free web hosting | free hosting | Business Hosting Services | Free Website Submission | shopping cart | php hosting
Star Spangled Comics 100
"The Frontier Phantom"


Story: Unknown Art: Fred Ray

The nation was founded by heroes of a bygone age, who have since passed on into history. Today, they live on in statues, portraits, history books, and as legend! But, are they really gone? This strange adventure occurs some 180 years after the time of the frontiersmen Tom Hawk (Tomahawk) and Dan Hunter, showing how the two figures still exist when Lieutenant Ellison meets... "The Frontier Phantom!" On the splash page, the spirits of Tomahawk and Dan Hunter watch as the state police offier grapples with a armed criminal!

The forest of Lake Ontario in the year 1770 knew only the presence of nomadic indian tribes... but a hundred and eighty years later... they are gone, and in their place are three men! The trio are fugitives from the law, and each is confident that they will not be found by their pursuers! A week ago, in the state police headquarters of a nearby city... Lieutenant Ellison is told about the three bank robbers who have been spotted in the area, and he is to be assigned to the case! With some reluctance, Mike Ellison puts down the book he had been reading! As he prepares to leave, he regrets having to leave the story where Tomahawk is fighting his way through an injun war... but it will just have to wait... On the sixth day, the Lieutentant makes contact with the fugitives... and receives a gunshot wound in the shoulder...

A day later, the three crooks believe themselves to be safe, and pause to divide the stolen money... Each receives fifteen thousand dollars, then split up... Mugger and Ratsy head for the cabin on Hoot Owl Hill, while Monk heads north... and when the heat dies down, they will meet at their hideout in Cleveland! (Holy Isabella, Batman!) Ratsy warns Monk that the policeman might still be on their trail, and the departing thug figures that he'll be a dead copper if he gets in his way. Mike Ellison is still on their trail, but is tired and thirsty... with the bullet in his shoulder... he figures that he's failed... and guesses that they've gotten away! He believes himself to be completely lost, and sees the thousand old indian trails... then wonders where they lead to... Nearly delirious, Mike rises slowly to his feet... he knows that he's no Tomahawk... he's tired and has a fever... he probably won't last another day...

Lieutenant Ellison senses someone behind him and turns to see two figure dressed up like the people in the book he was reading. The older of the two assures Mike that they are as real as the woods around him! Tom Hawk introduces himself and the young boy is his friend, Dan Hunter! Lieutenant Ellison is feverish and believes this to be a dream... Tomahawk sees that Mike has gunshot sickness... the fever which comes with the wound! He knows of some herbs which can bring the fever down... and Mike remembers what they are! The state policeman prepares the herbs and drinks the juices... He feels much better, but can't quite believe that Tomahawk could possibly be here in the present! The frontiersman tells him that everything is history, and that he shouldn't try to figure it out... especially since he has some work to do! Mike remembers the bank-robbers he was after, and how he lost their trail in the woods! Tomahawk reminds him that when in the woods, you must use the way of them! He tells the Lieutenant to look at the trail... someone has gone past here not too long ago...

Mike sees that the tracks don't belong to a trapper or a hunter... they are tracks made by city shoes! He is looking for three men... and only one hass passed here! Tomahawk tells him that the tracks don't lie, and perhaps they've split up! An hour later, they are following the trail along the river... and the Lieutenant sees that the trail continues into the hills... in a southernly direction! He had told Tomahawk that Ratsy is a small man... the tracks are too large for him! Mugger is a big man, and the tracks are too small to be his! The trail must be Monk's, who is hiding in the bushes, and is readying to fire his rifle! Dan Hunter sees some crows ahead... flying and chattering! The birds are excited about something... or someone up ahead! They duck moments before the rifle shot goes past! Tomahawk suggests that they tie some leaves to them for some camouflage!

Monk heads in their direction... confident that he shot the copper... but he can't take any chances... BLAM! The rifle goes off when the startled crook is tripped by the hidden lawman! He takes it on the chin when Mike lands a right uppercut! With Monk out cold, the Lieutenant wonders what he can do now? He can't take him along while going after the other two... and he can't leave him where the animals might get him! Tomahawk recalls when he was captured by the Cherokees, and held prisoner for two days! Mike has read the story and knows what to do... He gathers some strong tree limbs and some vines, then ties them together... When Monk wakes up, he finds himself in a cage, and the state policeman tells him that he's going to stay there until he returns... a good shelter against bears who might get to him before the law does!

As they walk on, Tomahawk reminds Mike to leave trail markings so he can find his way back! He wonders how to find Ratsy and Mugger in a place which seems as vast as a continent! The frontiersman tells him to keep looking for signs, which are the secret of the wilderness! They find a recently built fire... a stripped berry-patch... and on stony trails, they look for overturned pebbles... leather scrapings on the stones... At the cabin atop Hoot Owl Hill... Mugger is about to get a fire started so they can have some supper, while Ratsy sees nothing from what he considers to be the perfect hideout.

Even so, he keeps his gun loaded... just in case! Outside, Mike and the frontiersmen have reached the cabin! The state policeman thinks that it could be just a couple of trappers inside, and is about to sneak closer for a better look... Tomahawk suggests that he cover all areas of escape! Two paths lead from the cabin... at each one, Mike sets up a trap under Tomahawk's direction. The Lieutenant recalls that this was how indians scouted a fort at close range by creeping behind the bushes... (Holy G.W., Batman!) When he wonders what they should do next, Tomahawk tells him to think of a way to get them out of the cabin! Mike has an idea! He uses a long pole and a hornet's nest, which was a deed done by the frontiersman long ago! Mike uses the pole to drop the hornet's nest down the cabin chimney!

Inside the cabin, Ratsy and Mugger are driven out the door by their sudden "guests!" With the two crooks outside, Mike rushes at Mugger, who is intent on tearing him apart! The large fugitive is startled when he finds out that the copper is not so weak after all, for he is invisibly aided by the strength of Tomahawk, whose hands also grasp Mugger's! He boasts of having beaten six men in Chicago, but the copper makes him seem as weak as a mouse! The frontiersman knows that strength means little when wrestling! Ratsy sneaks from behind and uses the handle of the gun to knock Mike from behind! '

The two fugitives flee, only to have their feet caught in the two traps left by the lawman! Both are now hanging upside down, and so they will remain until the state policeman gets the forest rangers to take them back to town! Mike uses his shirt to make smoke signals over the fire to attract the rangers! He turns to see Tomahawk fading away... back into the pages of history! Two days pass, and at headquarters, Mike tells his story... The Chief feels that it was the fever which made Mike imagine meeting Tomahawk... but the young Lieutenant insists on showing him the tracks... When they arrive at the place where the smoke signals were sent... Mike sees that the tracks are gone! The older man tells him that since he was reading about the frontiersman, the fever made everything he read come to life! Tomahawk's backwoods skills were used to capture the crooks... and the smiles on the watching spirits of Tomahawk and Dan Hunter would seem to agree!

The story has charm, as a lawman of the late '40s/early '50s meets up with the frontiersmen from the 18th Century.

The legend of Tomahawk is alive in a book, and he aids Mike Ellison in his assignment to catch the three fugitives.

Monk and Ratsy are wearing business suits, while Mugger resembles the Ox from The Enforcers.

The introduction between the feverish state policeman and the frontiersman is unique, as Tomahawk tells Mike not to try and figure it out... just accept it as is.

What I enjoy about reading comic books is how the stories can be effective in having the characters and their situations come to life.

It is regrettable that we don't see more Westerns, Crime, Monsters, Comedy, Science-Fiction, and other genres in the current day.

Stories like these make me wish for a Tomahawk collection.

I remember the character from his appearances in Who's Who, Firestorm (a Crisis Crossover with Donna Troy in the Revolutionary War), Swamp Thing ( Brothers In Arms storyline with a time-travel story by Rick Veitch, Tom Yeates, and Alfred Alcala), and a Vertigo one-shot.

Star Spangled Comics is quite a book for its time. Other features include Robin The Boy Wonder, Captain Compass, and Manhunters Around The World

I'll be sure to review these, as well.

Steve Chung
"The Frontier Review"