Comics / DC Comics History

DC Comics History: Strong Bow (1955 - 1959: Dawn of the Silver Age)


By Deejay Dayton
Mar 31, 2017 - 9:45

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Strong Bow, the peripatetic native hero from beyond the Misty Mountains, saw his series in All-Star Western come to an end during the period 1955 – 1959: Dawn of the Silver Age.

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The series had always been difficult to place in  clear time frame, as the reader was told it occurred before the arrival of Europeans in North America, but the characters rode around on horses. The story in All-Star Western 93 makes a nod to the proper time period for Strong Bow, as Vikings land on the Atlantic coast.  If we excuse the horned helmets, as being an unhistorical as the horses in the strip, this puts Strong Bow around the 800s.

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Grandenetti does some very good art on the Vikings, irrespective of the helmets.  They come as conquerors, and enslave the natives they encounter, who hope for Strong Bow to come and free them. And that is basically what happens.  The story also has a ship of nice Vikings who show up to take the defeated and evil ones back to Vikingland.

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Few of the character’s stories in this period are memorable, but I sort of like the story from issue 96, which involves a village that believes it is under a curse thanks to three unlucky arrows. Strong Bow gets rid of the arrows, dispersing them in different locations, but the next day they are back in the village. Strong Bow agrees that they are the exact same arrows, with traces of the sand and such, from where he disposed of them. Or so they seem to be.

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In fact, the arrow maker has been preparing duplicates, and followed Strong Bow, to add the substances to convince him they were the same. The man’s plan is odd, to acquire wealth and power within the tribe, by exploiting their feelings about the arrows bringing bad luck. Strong Bow exposes his fraud by firing three of his own arrows, pretending they are the “cursed” ones, which he hides and then brings out when the arrow maker announces they have returned to camp once again.

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Strong Bow has his final outing in All-Star Western 99.  The story has him acting as a trainer and ultimately a judge, to two twin brothers.

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The eldest is to take over as chief, but being identical, no one can tell which is which, and both claim the honour.  Strong Bow, who trained both of the boys, is asked to figure out who is rightful heir. In the end he succeeds through deception, playing off of the guilt of the lying brother. 

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While it's not a bad story, it's not really much like what the series began as, with Strong Bow as peacemaker.

Strong Bow is next seen in the pages of All-Star Squadron in the 80s, part of a crossover with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Strong Bow's strip had its up and downs, but the series remains a landmark for DC, dealing with native characters before the arrival of the Europeans.

Strong Bow: All-Star Western 84 – 99 (Aug/Sept 55 – Feb/March 58)

Next up – Rex, the Wonder Dog!


Last Updated: Mar 31, 2017 - 9:50

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