Reign of the Supermen #301: Super-Chiefs I, II, III and V

Source: Super-Chief I debuts in All-Star Western #117 (1961)
Type: Precursors/descendantsI wasn't going to put the mystical western super-hero Super-Chief in Reign, you know. Aside from the word "Super", there was no real connection between him and Superman. But in the final issue of the Byrne Age Superman's series (#714 to be precise), writer Chris Roberson pulled a fast one on me, on us all. A Kryptonian crystal that had absorbed Superman's powers and psyche was shattered in limbo and shards of it sped across time giving rise to the strongmen of legend, like Samson, Gilgamesh, Hercules and... the 15th-century Iroquois, Super-Chief!
The meteorite Flying Stag believed was sent to him by the god Manitou and that gave him his amazing powers was actually a imbued with Superman's essence. And so, Roberson extends Superman's legacy both forward (with the Supermen of America, soon to appear in these pages) and backward through history. Super-Chief (in the Native tongue, Saganowahna) turns at once into an inheritor and a precursor of the Superman legacy. And Super-Chief's strip wasn't at all bad, and sadly short-lived. Three stories in 1961 were followed by a gulf of 25 years before Roy Thomas included him in his chapters of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Rick Veitch used him once in his Swamp Thing run, he appeared as an elder in 52 (apparently extremely long-lived), and he was a Black Lantern in the Weird Western Tales special issue. Yet, in those three brief back-ups to headliner Johnny Thunder's stories, he managed to do come cool stuff, like Defeating a giant Iroquois with a snowball...
...and helping his people build the better missile.
Yeah, Super-Chief fought aliens in the 15th century. It's a Gardner Fox/Carmine Infantino comic, all right? And Flying Stag managed his OWN legacy as well (or continued Superman's in a strange, parallel way, if you like) as the . There was the villainous Super-Chief of Dry Gulch (Adventures of Superman Annual #9, 1997) who tried to turn his town into a gambling resort and was defeated by the Electric Superman.
There was Jon Standing Bear (first appeared in 52 #22, 2006) who inherited the mantle, joined Firestorm in a new iteration of the Justice League, and was killed by a possessed Skeets.
And there was the Saganowahna of Wisconsin (Superman #709, 2011), introduced by Roberson himself earlier in the "Grounded" storyline, where he tangles with supervillains in the Midwest with the help of the transient Superman and (I now notice this) mentions his "manitou stone" could be of Kryptonian origin.
TAN-TAN-TAN!!! It's a quick, single page, but there it is. And with this Super-Chief joining the Supermen of America at the end, the cycle is complete, from past to future, as we prepare to leave that particular version of continuity, perhaps forever.


Martin Gray said...

Smart stuff from Mr Roberson. Finally, a reason for the strip's name.

Siskoid said...

Mr. Roberson was nice enough to say on Twitter that he was happy I "got" what he tried to do with his Superman run. So that's ONE clue to what was JMS and what was Roberson.


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