Tom Hawk — Revolutionary War scout, “Indian fighter” and “America’s favorite frontier hero” intrigues the hell out of me. Not that I have a burning urge to buy up some back issues or that I lie awake at night wishing for DC to release the Tomahawk Omnibus. From the little I’ve read of the series, the content seems, like most of Tales of the Unexpected or My Greatest Adventure before the debut of the Doom Patrol, to be mediocre. The art is largely forgettable and editor Jack Schiff was no Julie Schwartz. That said, when I look at the covers, it’s fascinating to see how much variety the series encompassed, like a 1950s/Silver Age time capsule.
We start out with the first issue (cover by Fred Ray) which establishes Tomahawk (who’d been appearing in Star-Spangled Comics since 1947) as a Davy Crockett-type, though operating in the Revolutionary War. I used to think he was inspired by Fess Parker’s groundbreaking TV turn as Davy Crockett, but when I actually looked up the dates, he was way too early. So we have a Revolutionary War freedom fighter/frontier scout, aided by trusty sidekick Dan Hunter. Early issues highlighted battles with Native Americans, as you can see (covers by Curt Swan, then Bruno Premiani).
Later the book introduces Tomahawk’s trusty sidekicks, the “rip-roaring Rangers” (cover by Bob Brown) and it’s presented as a kind of war comic, with the Rangers as “The GIs of 1775.” From what I’ve read about them online, they seem to be the same kind of oddball crew as the combat-happy joes of Easy Company or the Howling Commandos, though adjusted for the era (e.g., the Ranger nicknamed Stovepipe wore a stovepipe hat).And because it was Silver Age DC, to no surprise there were monsters courtesy of Dick Dillin, then Bob Brown.Including, of course, a giant gorilla. What’s more emblematic of Silver Age DC than the fabled gorilla cover (Brown again)?By 1962 superheroes were back in vogue, so we got America’s first superhero, Miss Liberty (cover by Fred Ray)—And, of course, supervillains (Brown, Brown, Dillin)The Hood, if you’re curious, is the sister of the British government’s master of disguise, Lord Shilling, determined to succeed where her brother failed.
Like I said, I can’t pretend I have a burning urge to read any of these (okay, the totem pole story, maybe), but taken as a whole that’s quite a crazy ride. Though only to be expected of a B-list series that ran for 22 years in a shifting comics landscape.