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Tomahawk 135
"Death On Ghost Mountain!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND July - August, 1971

Story By Bob Kanigher

Art By Frank Thorne

Editor Joe Kubert

(Originally Reviewed On 05/10/02)

On the cover by Joe Kubert, Hawk, Son of Tomahawk, and his friend have found gold on Ghost Mountain, but unlike his friend, he also sees that they have some visitors coming up from behind!

A peddler is having his head dunked in a nearby stream, while his assailant's partner is searching for a particular item from his wagon. This is seen by Hawk, on horseback, and he draws his gun, clicking it back, and firing a warning shot in the air to alert the two roughnecks, who are giving the peddler an unscheduled bath. Getting off his mount, Hawk kicks one of them aside...

Then kicks the other in his backside, and fires off two shots to make them do their best to run on water. The elderly peddler is grateful and tells Hawk that they were looking for money, not knowing that all he carries are his wares. When offered a reward from the peddler, Hawk is interested in one thing, and rides back to his home in an isolated valley away from town, and begins to read the peddler's illustrated catalogue. Hawk can scarcely believe that folks can live and dress like kings with the items to be found in the book, and he imagines that if he had the money, he could buy them.

Days later, Hawk's mother bids her son farewell, for he has decided to live in town and seek his fortune, and before he goes, he wants a hug from his brother, Little Eagle, but the proud young brave does not believe in hugging, but is a firm believer in the hardy handshake. Hawk tells his father that all the things he wants cost money and there's nothing for him in the valley, and so, he's heading for Howlin' Forks to say goodbye to his friend, Jess, then seek out his fortune, and live like a king! Shaking his son's hand, the elderly Tomahawk wants his son to tell him how much a king's crown is worth. Riding off from the valley, Hawk turns and waves a farewell to his family.

Embracing his new-found "freedom," Hawk rides to town, just in time to see his friend, Jess, who is about to leave and seek his fortune, but not before kissing his girlfriend goodbye, while her father tells him that he''ll never have the old man's permission to marry her until he can prove himself to be worthy of her. Jess vows to return with more gold than Mr. Henderson has in his bank, and he'll be back for Tina. The two men ride out of town, with Jess wanting Hawk to be his "pardner" on a trip to a secret gold lode, which is hidden on gold mountain, and the map he holds in his hand was given to him by a dying prospector.

Nothing will keep Jess from finding gold and marrying Tina, while Hawk agrees with his friend, intent on living like kings. Miles pass, and both rein their mounts in the direction of a desolate land, with Hawk wondering if Jess is going the right way, but Jess insists that it's what the maps reads for them to go. Jess leads Hawk through a natural tunnel behind the falls...

After a while, the two come out of the dark tunnel and find themselves at Ghost Mountain, which Jess admires, while Hawk sees something on the ground. Dead indians have come this way, leaving arrows, clubs, and broken bows as sign that they've been there. Jess chides his friend for being afraid of such things, and both decide to continue in their quest for gold. Hawk and Jess begin their work beneath the hot sun, pausing only to double-check the map. Jess begins to have doubts, but Hawk urges his friend to keep diggin'.

Night turns into day, as they make their way up Ghost Mountain, and on the seventh day, they've struck gold! Jess marvels at the sight, while Hawk compares it to the sun being trapped in rock! They continue to pan, with the gathered nuggets gleaming in the moonlight. Hawk urges Jess to stop, for they've collected enough, but Jess wants to keep going, determined to return to his girlfriend as a millionaire! Both are exhausted from their labors, with Hawk getting ready for sleep, but Jess refuses, standing guard and determined to make certain that the gold will not be taken away from him.

At dawn, Jess sees some trespassers on "his" mountain, who have no doubt come to steal "his" gold. Hawk sees the elderly indians who make up a burial party, and who tell them both that the mountain is sacred, for it is where they bury their dead, and urges them to leave or else their lives will be cursed.

Jess is determined to gun them down, but Hawk sees that his friend has lost his senses, slapping the gun from his hand, while Jess, though momentarily startled, tells Hawk that he should have realized that his friend would take their side!

Jess aims to kill Hawk, as certain as there's gold in Ghost Mountain, but Hawk is determined that his friend won't hurt the elderly indians. Jess swings his pickaxe, which misses Hawk by inches, but the strike has made the ground give way, and both men are thrust into the underground burial chamber, where the honored dead are interred.

Jess finds the location ironic, for this is where he'll bury Hawk with his "redskin" brothers! Jess swings his pickaxe, which strikes one of the mounted burial cots, and what remains of the dead, buries its long-clenched spear into Jess' back in its fall from the burial cot.

In the dim light, Hawk sees what remains of his friend, and the interred bones of the honored dead. Hawk makes his way up the ladder, and empties the sacks of golddust, giving back to Ghost Mountain what he would have taken. He tells them to bury their dead in peace, and that he'll go, but the elderly burial party see that he has learned wisdom, which is worth more than all of the sacred mountain's gold, and bid him go in peace. As the sun set, Hawk makes his way home. At home, Hawk tells his story, and Little Eagle sees the yellow pebble, which falls out of his brother's boot. Seeing that it shines like the sun, Little Eagle asks Hawk if it's valuable, but his brother tells him it's just something for him to play with. Tomahawk turns in his chair, and tells his wife that it looks like their son learned what a king's crown is worth. She agrees, for when Hawk goes in search of true values, he'll learn to be a man!

In the letterspage, Roger Schoolcraft, of Follansbee, West Virginia, writes: Dear Joe, How could you have done such a thing? Sure, Hawk, Son of Tomahawk is good, but it just cannot compare with the original Tomahawk! First off, I cannot forgive you for chucking The Rangers. Do you mean to say you're just going to forget them? That's like Johnny Cash forgetting The Tennessee Three! Never to see Big Anvil again? He was one of my favorite characters! And another thing: you've changed old Tomahawk completely! I'll admit Tom was never really a husky fellow, but now you've got him looking like a scarecrow! And to realize we'll never see his beautiful blonde hair is unbearable! He was human when you had him as a younger man! Now I'm fairly sure that I'm not alone when I ask you to return this magazine to Tomahawk. However, if you're unable, how's about giving the second story section to the "young" Tomahawk and his ranger. After all, you can't just forget a bunch of the greatest guys you ever read about! Sorry I sound mad, but the plain truth is I am! Besides, you didn't have to make Tomahawk look THAT old!!

Joe replies: Dear Roger, Tomahawk is not the "Forgotten Man", as subsequent issues will prove. There will be stories involving his past (as a young man with the Rangers), just as those same Rangers will meet their old friend once more in his present existence.

As far as I know, Roger lurks on this list (Hi, Rog!), and I hope that he'll read this and enjoy it, for this is dedicated to him. I certainly would like to know what he thought of Joe's reply, and the subsequent issues, back in the days of snail mail and Smith Corona typewriters, not to mention when Hal Jordan was Green Lantern, and didn't go crazy after getting the shaft... but that's another story. Seriously, I'm sure that Editor Joe Kubert was impressed by your missive, and that it probably wasn't the only one for supporting Tom Hawk.

The cover of #135 has Jess gleefully reaching for the gold, not seeing the spectral visitors behind him. The center figure looks like one of the Autumn Bros from Jonah Hex: Riders of The Worm and Such.

In an issue of Alpha Flight by John Byrne, Puck, Talisman, and Shaman travel back in time to deal with a different type of ghost, and the young man who wouldn't pay attention to the danger of the gold and its temptations until it was too late.

The art by Frank Thorne is fluid in action, always in motion, and captures the right moment, before and after. You can see the growing avarice in Jess' eyes. While Hawk sees it with childish wonder, Jess sees it as a means to an end.

In this story, Robert Kanigher gives us insight into human nature, showing Hawk affected by material wants, when what he has with his family in the valley is worth more than mere gold.

Jess seeks to earn Mr. Henderson's respect and Tina's hand by finding gold, no doubt to shove under the banker's nose while he makes off with his daughter.

On the map, there is reference to Goulart River. Ron Goulart is a writer, contributing to "All In Color For A Dime" and other works.

The burial party arrives to preserve the sanctity of their honored ancestors, but this means nothing to Jess, who would see them join their kinsmen. Even his friend, Hawk is to be among their number.

Jess is struck down by one whose remains impart its final lesson.

What motivates a person? Often, this is the basis for a story, but in real life, it can make all the difference in the world.

In Memory of Robert Kanigher
For Whom Life Was The Story
And He Told It Well.