Posts tagged ‘Pow-Wow Smith’

Detective 500 – 4 Batman stories, two of them team-ups, scads of detectives, and Elongated Man and Hawkman end

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Many anniversary issue build themselves up as being something really special, but few live up to their promise.  Detective 500 (March 1981) is one of the rare ones.  It’s not all gold, but enough of it is.

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The first story, by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, bring us to a parallel world, where a new Batman is about to be born.

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The Phantom Stranger brings Batman and Robin to this world, seemingly so that Bruce will have the opportunity to prevent his parents’ deaths.

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They find this world similar, but different.  James Gordon is still just a lieutenant, and Barbara , though a librabrian, is his fiancee, not his daughter.  Bruce is hunting for information on Joe Chill, while Dick discovers that this is a world with no heroic legends, no caped heroes, nothing to inspire heroism.

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Observing the Waynes, we see that Bruce is hardly a baby hero, more like a rich spoiled brat, but Batman is blind to this.

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Batman’s pursuit of Joe Chill, who on this world is not even from Gotham, and just arriving in the city, brings him into conflict with Gordon, but Batman manages to convince him that they are friends on another world.

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His search for Chill has raised such flags that the man is murdered by the Gotham mobs.  Batman learns that the planned murder of the Waynes is happening sooner than he expected – he had not counted the extra days from leap years.

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Robin, who has been watching the Waynes, sees the murder about to occur, and struggles within himself, thinking that is might be meant to be; but Batman swoops in saves the day, his parents, and himself.

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The Phantom Stranger takes the heroes back to their own world, and they are left to wonder what will become of Bruce, but the reader gets to see the impact the attempted murder had, and that even with his parents alive, young Bruce is on the road to becoming Batman.

Sadly, this is not a parallel world we ever visit again.

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Slam Bradley gets the billing, but this story, a re-write of a Batman tale from the 40s, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo, is pretty much a free for all with a vast line-up of detectives.

They are all at a celebration for an older detective, who gets murdered in front of them.

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The original version of this story has Batman working with a number of detective based on famous fictional ones from the era.  This story brings Slam Bradley, Jason Bard, Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith, the Human Target and Roy Raymond together on the case.

For Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith and Slam Bradley, this the first time the character appeared since the end of their own series.

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There are leads in a number of directions, which allow the detectives to split up and pursue them in smaller groups.  The story gives everyone at least one moment to shine, and they wind up stopping a number of bad guys.

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Slam suspects there is more to the case, and it’s Roy Raymond who provides the real solution, that this was an elaborate suicide, designed to prompt the men to tidy up some hanging cases of his.

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Jason Bard and the Human Target both return in the pages of Detective within the next couple of years, while Roy Raymond pops up in DC Comics Presents.  Many of the rest have their next, and final, appearances in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Slam Bradley returns a little after Crisis, returning to the pages of Detective for one story.

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The next story in the issue is a wonderful 2-pager, by Len Wein and Walt Simonson, that uses Snoopy’s “It was a dark and stormy night…” as it’s text.  Clever, and visually gorgeous.

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The Elongated Man gets his final solo story in this book, by Mike W Barr and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  As well as being a decent mystery story on its own, it delves into the facts around the death of Edgar Allen Poe.

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Chiefly, the identity of the mysterious “Reynolds” that Poe called out for shortly before dying.  The story has to do with a letter explaining who Reynolds was, and leading to an unpublished magazine by Poe.

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Garcia-Lopez’s art is great, and Ralph and Sue are always fun to read about.

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One of his best mysteries, this is also the Elongated Man’s last solo story until his miniseries in the 90s.

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On the downside of the issue, there is this text story by Walter Gibson, with some scattered art by Tom Yeates.  I recall reading this as a kid, but not finding it particularly memorable.  And I dislike text stories like this in comics.  If I’m going to read a book, I’ll read a book.  I read comics for the visuals.

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Hawkman also has his last solo story in Detective in this issue.  Well, kind of a solo, really he and Hawkgirl get equal roles.

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Paul Levitz and Joe Kubert helm this tale, that sees Katar and Shayera trying to solve the mystery of the death of a scientist many years earlier.

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There’s some great Kubert art, and the story itself is not bad, but it’s a bit of a tease.

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At the end, Hawkman reveals that the scientist whose death they were investigating was Dr. Erdel, who had died after bringing the Martian Manhunter to Earth.  J’onn had blamed himself, and Hawkman wanted proof that it was not J’onn’s fault.

Hawkman’s next solo outing is the Shadow War of Hawkman miniseries.

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The final story in this issue was also a let-down to me.  Even moreso, as it’s a Batman/Deadman team-up, and those had been above average stories, on the whole.  But Carmine Infantino’s art is not what it was, and Cary Bates’ story doesn’t help much either.

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Pursuing some criminals, Batman gets killed.  Sort of.  Almost dead.  Robin is really stressed, but Deadman shows up and decides to inhabit Batman’s body to bring his killers to justice.

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Oops, someone spilled a plate of scrambled eggs on the comic.  Oh, wait, that’s Infantino’s art for showing Batman and Deadman conversing on the astral plane.

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Deadman moves Batman around and catches the bad guys, and doing so ignites the spark that brings him back to life.  A shame this story closed the issue.  It would have done less damage buried in the middle.

Detective 202 – Batman goes to a resort, Roy Raymond gets his own series, and Robotman and Pow-Wow Smith end

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I skipped over many of the issues from 1952, and almost all the issues from 1953, but Detective 202 (Dec. 53) marks the end of two series, and a name change for another, so the tales in this issue get covered in my blog, even though, on their own, they likely wouldn’t.

The early 1950s were a bleak time in comic books.  They were viewed as a corrupting influence on children, and wound up neutering themselves to the point of tedium.

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The Batman and Robin story in this issue has art by Sheldon Moldoff, and a story that has Batman and Robin hunting a pirate that preys on wealthy people, staying at an island resort.

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There’s s bit of fun action, but it’s all been seen before.

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Roy Raymond, TV Detective begins, seamlessly evolving from Impossible But True, with Ruben Moreira still on the art.  Overall, this has been the best series in Detective in the last couple of years, with stories that were always interesting, even if the explanations did not always hold water.  This one has to do with a ventriloquist who claims his dummy is able to speak for itself.

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Although he is not able to take the dummy apart, Roy cannot find anything to prove the dummy is not speaking on its own.

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In the end it’s all a piece of classic misdirection, an attempt to smuggles a midget felon out of the country, in the body of the dummy.

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Robotman makes his final appearance in a story that pits him against stolen US military equipment.

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Not a bad story.  Short and action-packed, as Robotman tales were.

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Robotman did not appear again until an issue of Justice League of America in the mid-70s, and has rarely appeared since then.  In the mid-60s, a different version of Robotman, Cliff Steele, was introduced as a member of the Doom Patrol, and has “owned” the name ever since.  Curiously, for DC, the two Robotmen have never met in any story.

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Pow-Wow Smith is off to Hollywood for his final tale in Detective, which is, in fact, his second Hollywood story, though the last one was tv based.

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In this tale he is working as a stunt man, while at the same time investigating murder attempts on the actors during the shooting.

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It was the producer, doing it for the insurance.  A run of the mill plot, for a series that lost its exploration of a man of two cultures for straightforward crime stopping.

Pow-Wow Smith gets promoted, taking the cover and the lead spot in Western Comics.

 

 

 

Detective 164 – the Bat-Signal, Roy Raymond as a child, and Great Owl tells a story

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I love the cover for Detective 164 (Oct. 50).  The story is one of numerous within the next couple of years that deal with some specific item of Batman’s arsenal or accoutrements.

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The story opens with an editor complaining about declining sales, and demanding more of the writer, which probably reflects reality.  By 1950 almost all superheroes had vanished.

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The rest of the story is a series of short tales, in which the Bat-signal is used in as many ways as they could think of, in taking down criminals.  There is even a diagram of the signal and its properties.

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Roy Raymond deals with Marvella, a woman who claims to be able to talk to the dead in this Impossible But True story.  Very little background is ever given for Roy Raymond, so the little bit in this story is a gift.

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To prove to Raymond that her powers are real, she calls up his dead Uncle William, and has his voice emerge from a cat.  He accurately recounts a shared memory of William and young Raymond, which we see in flashback.

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Still, it’s a con, and Roy explains it all in the end.  But the memory was Roy’s, so it remains canon.

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This is a fun variation on the format for Pow-Wow Smith, with art by Bruno Premani.

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The story of Ohiyesa’s tracking and battle with some thieves is told by aged Great Owl to a group of young children in the camp.  Great Owl refers to everything by its “native” equivalent.  The airplane is a great eagle, for example.

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So the story is twice-told, back and forth, as we see the real events, and the way the kids imagine it.

Detective 156 – The Batmobile of 1950, the girl who could talk to animals, and Pow-Wow Smith and the gold dust robbery

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It’s time for a new Batmobile in Detective 156 (Feb. 50).

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The old model gets wrecked in a chase, which also leaves Batman in a cast.  He sets to work building a top of the line, brand new modern car.

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This Dick Sprang designed Batmobile can go faster than the previous one, and has a turbo boost for jumps, so it would have been able to make the jump that trashed the earlier car.

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It also has a monitor, linked to a massive camera that Robin wears as he tracks down the thieves.  Batman follows in the car, smashing through the wall to save Robin and take down the bad guys in the nick of time.

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A couple of deceptions are going on in this chapter of Impossible But True.  Roy Raymond investigates the story of a girl who shows up, having been raised with wild animals and able to talk with them.

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There is also a storyline about a manhunt for a murderer, and the only witness to the crime was the victim’s pet.  Roy arranges for the woman to meet with the pet, but the killer steps in.

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And that was the plan all along.  Roy exposed the girl as a hoax, a Hollywood promo stunt, but got them to work with him on drawing out the killer.

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Great new logo for Pow-Wow Smith, thanks to Carmine Infantino.

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When thieves steal bags of gold dust, the sheriff in the area summons a posse to track them down, and so Ohiyesa dons his Pow-Wow Smith garb to join in.

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The story itself is not as significant as the ending, in which the thief calls Smith a “stupid Indian.”  This is the first glimpse of the racism he faces, and the series would touch on it from time to time.

 

 

Detective 153 – Batman flies, Robotman fights his double, Impossible But True begins, and vengeance comes for Ohiyesa

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Great cover for this Dick Sprang story in Detective 153 (Nov. 49).  Batman and Robin are searching for an escaped felon, but take time out to attend a lecture on bats.  Just as the professor shows off some bat-wings he has created, the bad guy shows up.  Batman attempts to get to him, but she shoots his rope, and Batman falls, allowing the guy to escape.

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The professor gives him the bat-wings, and off Batman flies.

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Robin gets captured, but the professor has also provided a bat-radar system, which Batman uses to navigate a trapped room.

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And then, just as you are wondering how they are going to justify not keeping this cool stuff, Batman wakes up.  It was all a dream.  Lame.

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Robotman is pitted against a double of himself, when a scientist friend constructs a similar body, and implants the brain of a recently deceased man.

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The man inside the new body turns out to be a criminal, and a pretty fanatical one.  He takes no time to try to conceal his evil plans, announcing them to everyone.  Good thing he did, because Robotman knows to attack him right away.

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In attempting to electrocute Robotman, the new robot-man kills himself instead.

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Impossible But True begins in this issue, with art by Ruben Moreira.  The series stars Roy Raymond, and would come to be called that.  Roy has a hit tv show (Impossible But True) on which he shows off amazing things, and disproves hoaxes, along with his assistant, Karen Duncan.

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Looking for something good for next week’s show, Roy comes across a letter claiming there is a valley which ages people while they are in it.

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Roy sets out to investigate, entering the valley and experiencing the effect himself.

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The story closes with the broadcast of the episode, and the complex (and almost as unbelievable) explanation of what was really going on.

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Trouble comes looking for Pow-Wow Smith in this Carmine Infantino story, as a man he had captured escapes on his way to the gallows, and comes seeking revenge.

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The man disguises himself as a native.  He disguises himself, and is lucky enough to come at the time of a festival.

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He lures Ohiyesa out of the camp, and cuts a rope, so he will fall to his death.  He returns to the camp and announces that Ohiyesa has died.

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Which of course, he hasn’t, and shows up just in time.  They fight, the disguise comes off, and the Mexican is revealed.  At Ohiyesa’s insistence, they return him to the whites for justice, and he finally gets hung.

Aside from the very start and end, this story takes place entirely with the Sioux.

Detective 152 – Batman vs the Goblin, Slam Bradley ends, and Pow-Wow Smith’s first case

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It’s definitely Vicki Vale on the cover for Detective 152 (Oct. 49), and she is even in the Batman and Robin story inside!  The scene pictured does not happen, but her photographs are central to the story.

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The Bob Kane story introduces the villain, the Goblin, and then follows Vicki as she attempts to photograph Batman with three men whose lives he saved.  When the photo gets sabotaged, Batman figures out that one of the three must be the Goblin.

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From there it becomes a chase for the negative to the picture, and Vicki getting kidnapped.  Batman gets a severe head injury, but saves her and reveals the Goblin.  I love the last few panels, showing that Vicki has no problem throwing herself at both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

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Slam Bradley’s long running series comes to an end in this issue, and Slam is barely even in the story.  Instead, it’s all about Shorty, and his younger, but taller, brother Tiny.  Howard Sherman provides the art.

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Look, there’s Slam!  Standing around while Shorty commands the story.  This page has the most Slam Bradley on it of any page in his final story.  Shorty’s comic hijinks were the meat of the series now.

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I think Slam must have gone into retirement at this point, leaving the agency to Shorty.  He’d been at it a full eleven years at this point.  Slam Bradley would not return until Detective 500, in 1980.

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Pow-Wow’s first case, with art by Infantino, clearly causes him some inner turmoil.

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He is meant to compete in a sort of native version of the Olympics, but Jimmy summons him to go help round up some train robbers.

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He winds up enlisting the braves of his tribe to help, and the take down of the train robbers is impressively done.  Then, knowing he could win the honour of being the greatest brave, by moving a boulder he had already moved, he declines to do so, choosing to lose.

But why?  The story is mute on this, but the only action he has taken during the course of the story that could account for this is abandoning the contest to go get the thieves.  He must feel deeply torn about this.

Detective 151 – Batman and the I.O.U.s, Robotman loses his head, and Pow-Wow Smith debuts

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Who is that woman driving the motorcycle on the cover of Detective 151 (Sept. 49)?  The picture does not correspond to the Batman and Robin story inside.  Simply due to her red hair, and from lack of any other options, I aver that this is Vicki Vale.  She had been introduced almost a year earlier in the pages of Batman, although she had yet to appear in Detective Comics.

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The story in this issue is a complex one, dealing with a man who rescues others, but then demands they sign over an I.O.U. for their lives.

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He then attempts to blackmail them, warning that he can foresee their deaths and prevent them, but if they refuse to pay him, he won’t.

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Aside from the Dick Sprang art there is little to recommend this tale, but I decided that if any of the interior stories were worth commenting on, I would also write up the Batman story in that issue.  Which I have done.

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The Robotman story in this issue is entertaining, sometimes even intentionally so.  The story opens with a man discovering a box containing Robotman’s head.

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Ah, that panel made me laugh so hard.

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It turns out Robotman allowed himself to be used to test out a new motor an inventor had created, but it sent racing uncontrollably around the world until he smashed his own body in order to stop.

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Pow-Wow Smith, Indian Lawman begins in this issue, with art by Carmine Infantino.  The series is vastly less racist than its name would imply.

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We get the whole backstory of the character in this issue.  His real name is Ohiyesa, of the Sioux.  As a young boy, he made friends with a white settler, Jimmy.

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After stopping a fight between loggers, they give him the nickname Pow-Wow Smith.  So it’s bestowed on him by white men, who are shown to be abrasive and difficult.  It’s a backhanded compliment, but Ohiyesa accepts it with pride, and refers to himself that way as well.

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Jimmy goes off to college, and Ohiyesa decides to go as well, though members of his tribe are concerned that he is abandoning their ways for those of the white invaders.

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Ohiyesa graduates, and gets a job as a “lawman” (presumably a freelance policeman).  He returns home to his tribe, but dons his native gear when he is with them, to show he has not abandoned his past.

Although the series would become primarily a mystery series with a western patina, this first story gives more of a taste of the actual issues that the character would deal with, a foot in each world, but not entirely part of either.

It was also a good addition to the book, maintaining the “detective” concept, while at the same time bringing a western series into the title, at a time when westerns were the big hit craze.

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