Friday, November 20, 2009
Frontiersman AND Anthropologist- Tomahawk #71
The term "Caveman" was coined shortly after the first, isolated discoveries of Neanderthal Man in 1829,1848 and 1856. However, in the story "The Caveman Indians" from 1960's Tomahawk #71, Revolutionary War scout Tomahawk and his sidekick Dan Hunter seem really familiar with the idea of Cavemen.
While exploring for new hunting grounds (in unnamed territory) Tomahawk and Dan are caught in a landslide on a mountaintop and get dumped into an underground river. When they come to and make it ashore, they are set upon by Caveman warriors who capture them and take them home to their cave.
Luckily, these Cavemen (who live in an isolated lost valley) speak a dialectic Algonquian and Tomahawk and Dan can understand them.
What follows is a fairly mundane story about a tribal power struggle. Tomahawk and Dan have lost all their ammunition, but teach the friendly Cavemen how to make bows and arrows and a canoe. They also use their black powder to make exploding arrows. The comics code, however, makes sure that the good guys use ropes and padded arrows to subdue their foes without bloodshed.
The day is saved when Tarn, chief of the good guys challenges Varrak, chief of the bad guys (and a giant) to single combat. Tarn quickly vanquishes Varrak with the aid of the "Indian wrestling" techniques taught him by Tomahawk.
Tomahawk and Dan climb into their new canoe and paddle right out of the lost valley.
I have to say this was a little disappointing. I mean, I would have liked to at least see some mammoths or sabre cats in this lost valley. Sure, it's not all that realistic, but Tomahawk faces a giant gorilla somewhere in the American West in one issue. Where are my extinct beasts?
Also, apart from wearing the kind of sad, unfinished loincloths that are the Caveman's stock in trade, and their stone-age tools, I don't see any reason why anyone would think these guys are Cavemen instead of just isolated Indians. Never mind the fact that Tomahawk and Dan shouldn't even know Cavemen ever existed.