Tomahawk #107 cover

Tomahawk #107, November-December 1966

“Double-Cross of the Gorilla-Ranger!”

Our tale opens with the improbably-named ranger Big Anvil finding himself confronted by a huge gorilla—and I mean HUGE: it’s about 15 feet tall! Moreover, the beast comes equipped with a bow, a quiver of arrows, and a headband. Tomahawk and the other rangers come running to help, but the gorilla is finally stopped in its tracks by the shout of a Native American. It transpires that the gorilla is named Mikora and is a rare breed from Africa. He came into the possession of the Indian tribe when his owner died 10 years ago. Taking ownership of Mikora, the tribe taught him to shoot arrows—as you do. In the intervening years, Mikora has grown to full size.

Mikora Tomahawk 107

The tribe chief, Tanka, has been captured by the British and is being held hostage against possible retaliation. The tribe ask Tomahawk if he and the rangers will fight the British on their behalf and rescue Tanka. Tomahawk agrees, and takes Mikora along as a new ranger.

Mikora gorilla Tomahawk

The Britsh Red Coats attack. Mikora wades into battle scattering soldiers every which way, however he is so huge that he puts Big Anvil and the other rangers in danger. While the rangers continue the fight, Mikora wanders off. Later, Tomahawk discovers the giant ape has disabled a British cannon emplacement all on his own. There is little time for praise however, as the group come under attack from the truly bizarre Thunder-Man, a super-powered, costumed villain, who wastes no time blasting them with lightning bolts from his fingers!

Thunder-Man Tomahawk 107

The rangers quickly fall to the electrical discharge. Mikora resists for as long as he can, be even he succumbs eventually.

Thunder-Man is leader of a small army of British deserters: it is they who hold Tanka hostage. They tie up the rangers, put Mikora on a giant sledge (that they apparently just find lying around) and haul him away. When the rangers recover consciousness they follow Thunder-Man to a mountain-top fortress. Conveniently, Tomahawk knows of a secret entrance so the rangers set about getting inside.

As a storm rages outside Thunder-Man has Mikora raised through a hole in the roof to be blasted by lightning, in classic “He’s alive!” Frankenstein fashion. The mad-as-a-hatter Thunder-Man is convinced that this will turn the giant ape against Tomahawk, and, as the rangers burst in, this turns out to be true. So, clearly, he’s not entirely mad. The now-berserk Mikora runs around wildly, punching rangers.

Mikora Tomahawk 107

Big Anvil seizes his chance and grabs Thunder-Man, hoisting him up by the ankles. This dislodges battery-like equipment from the villain’s back—the secret of his great power is revealed as merely a trick! Big Anvil scoops up the electrical gear and dons it himself. He fires lightning at Mikora, surmising—correctly as it turns out—that this will bring Mikora back on-side.

The fully-restored Mikora hugs Big Anvil in the touching ending, as Tomahawk ties up Thunder-Man and frees Tanka.

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Tomahawk concerns one Tom Hawk and his band of rangers under George Washington as they fight the British, or just generally fight crime around the time of the Revolutionary War. Things started off in the Golden Age in a fairly straightforward manner, however, by 1966, Tomahawk had caught the DC Silver Age bug, and our leather-clad hero found himself battling aliens, dinosaurs, and, as here, giant gorillas. Well, it’s a living!

Ed France Herron was a writer whose credits go back to near the dawn of comics. He was involved with Simon and Kirby’s Captain America, and is often credited with the creation of the Red Skull. By this time he was clearly just phoning it in, and who can blame him really? The idea of a Revolutionary soldier fighting supernatural threats isn’t by itself a bad one, but when you find yourself having to write the same thing issue after issue after issue, it must begin to grate. But formula was what DC wanted at the time: this sort of thing was happening in all its books. Superman fighting a giant gorilla is one thing; having Tomahawk or Blackhawk (WW2 pilot) or Sgt Rock fighting the same thing was quite another, and reached ludicrous proportions.

Artist Fred Ray had been drawing the Tomahawk comic since it started in 1950. His work here is competent, but he’s clearly uncomfortable having to draw this really silly stuff, and would surely have been happier drawing a less fantastic version of the strip. The strip as it started out, in fact. Ray continued drawing the book for another couple of years, before disappearing from comics in the early-1970s.

The cover, allegedly by Bob Brown, is by far the best thing about this comic. It’s daft, but fun, and promises much. The comic itself delivers very little, sadly—unless, of course, like me, you love really, really silly comics.

Images ©2011 DC Comics