The fate of Native American superheroes has not been good. They have ranged from embarrassing ethnic stereotypes like, Super Chief, to well-meaning but still embarrassing portrayals like Apache Chief from “Super Friends.”
They have usually been part of groups, like Shaman from “Alpha Flight,” or the more contemporary version of Man-of-Bats (from current “Batman” comics, but who evolved from an embarrassing ethnic stereotype), but not front and center as lead characters. One, Thunderbird, was a member of the hugely popular “X-Men,” but he was soon killed off.
None of the above characters were created by Native American creators. There is also a paucity of Native American creators at any of the major comic book companies.
It’s a bit easier these days for people of other ethnic groups to be involved in comics. Technology has driven down the cost of production and producers can use the Internet to market and distribute their own comics and build up a demand before they try to get them to comics distribution companies and get them into the comics stores. Comics can even be printed on demand and creators don’t have to commit money to a print run to get their comics into the hands of consumers.
A re-launch of a 1990s series is trying to give people a version of Native American heroes produced by a Native American. John Proudstar is re-launching his “Tribal Force” series, which he first produced in the late 1990s.
He is doing it as an independent production available through the Rising Sun hub.
The Tribal Force are a group of young heroes selected by gods to take on evil in the world. They use Native-derived powers to fight foes of a more technological nature.
Proudstar said in an interview with “High Country News,” that he’s trying to give today’s Native kids what he didn’t have growing up, Native American heroes.
As to their nature, Proudstar said in the interview,
“The characters are very young and flawed, and not into their culture. They're the last people you'd pick to have super powers in your community. They're the jerkoffs who are in jail every frickin' weekend.”
The time may be right for a re-launch of the comic. Digital and print options for delivery these days give independent producers options to keep their costs down and give new consumers a reasonable price point. Also, distribution through the Internet gives them options for reaching audiences without having to get their product distributed in stores.This might be a good option for a comic aimed at a specific group that maybe other comics consumers will like as well.