FROM THE BOG
At his blog, Veitch mentioned his work on this cover:
"SWAMP THING appeared for most of the story as an elemental energy storm. I tried to catch that by finger-painting the main image of SWAMPY as a titanic bolt of green lightning and stacking it over several color surprints to give it that crackling effect up the center."
Moon Fawn, Tomahawk, and Hawk in
HAWK, SON OF TOMAHAWK #137
(Art by Frank Thorne)
1:2 Hawk's father Tom Haukins (better known as Tomahawk) had his own series titled TOMAHAWK which changed to HAWK, SON OF TOMAHAWK as of issue #131 (1970). Echo Valley was indeed where Tomahawk's family lived in that series. Tomahawk stars in next issue.
2:3 Firehair was a white man raised by the Blackfoot tribe. He first appeared in SHOWCASE#85 (1969) and appeared in a few backup stories beginning in HAWK, SON OF TOMAHAWK #131.
There was another western character named Firehair by a different publisher in the 1950's. She was a white woman raised by Sioux indians.
3:1 Jonah Woodson Hex, bounty hunter and former Confederate soldier, first appeared in 1972's ALL-STAR WESTERN TALES #10. Hex was revived in a trio of 1990's mini-series written by Joe R. Lansdale and drawn by Tim Truman. Since 2005, DC has published a new and very popular JONAH HEX series written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with interior art by Luke Ross. The Jonah Hex feature film in 2010 got terrible reviews.
In a short-lived mid-80's series titled HEX, he was teleported from the year 1875 into 2050 A.D. by a mad scientist of the future. This concept didn't go over well with readers and Hex was returned to the Old West (and let us never speak of that again.) Hex was killed in 1904 and his stuffed corpse is supposedly still on display in a travelling fair. (See DC SPECIAL SERIES #16.) Hex had a cameo appearance in ST issue #46.
3:2 Hex found a hole in his hat!
Madame .44's real name is Jeanne Walker, but that is also the name of a real life crime author who became a crime fighter out west. Jeannie Walker's book Fighting the Devil tells her true story of how she became a sleuth and solved the 1990 murder of her ex-husband, a Texas millionaire. Learn more at jeanniewalkerbooks.com
4:2 The gambler Bat Lash (Bartholomew Aloysius Lash) first appeared in SHOWCASE #76 and had his own short-lived series (1968). He was created by cartoonist Sergio Aragones, as the antithesis of the traditional cowboy hero.
Batton Lash is the working name of a real life comic book writer, inspired by the character.
Madame .44 (Jeanne Walker) first appeared in ALL-STAR WESTERN #117 (1961). She often infiltrated gangs of robbers to defeat them, and kept some of their loot.
4:4 Madame .44 was a photographer in her civilian identity, hence the "photography" wagon. First drawn by Alex Toth in 1948, Johnny Thunder (John Tane) had a lengthy run, starring in ALL-AMERICAN WESTERN #100-126 and ALL-STAR WESTERN 67-119. Although Madame .44 operated outside the law, she and Johnny found themselves kind of working together in his last several issues. DC COMICS PRESENTS #28 (1980) showed how they confirmed their suspicions of each other's identities and ended up getting married. Another character named Johhny Thunder premiered in 1939 who controlled a genie "Thunderbolt", but is apparently unrelated.
5:2 Super Chief first appeared in ALL-STAR WESTERN #117 (at the same time as Madame .44's debut). He was Saganowahna, Flying Stag of the Wolf Clan in the 16th Century. In addition to granting super-strnegth, his meteorite-amulet apparently allowed him to live for centuries, but now has caused long-term mental deterioration. (He is no relation to the Texaco gasoline, nor the Santa Fe train system of the same name.)
5:5 Black Bison (a.k.a. Bison-Black-As-Midnight-Sky) was an extremely powerful shaman, who was first seen in FURY OF FIRESTORM #1 (1982) which depicts the battle Bat Lash mentions here.
7:4 This is El Diablo. See info on Wise Owl and him, below.
9:1 Many convenience stores of that time displayed a life-size wooden carving of an indian chief by the entrance.
11:5 Wise Owl first appeared in ALL-STAR WESTERN #2 (November 1970) when he was responsible for giving the paralyzed Lazarus Lane the ability to turn into the athletic hero El Diablo (created by Robert Kanigher and Gray Morrow.) Published just one month later (December 1970), HAWK, SON OF TOMAHAWK #131 showed Wise Owl to be brother of Hawk's mother. This issue of SWAMP THING brings a new revelation that Wise Owl's motives are evil. In later issues of JONAH HEX (#11 and #24, 2006) it is revealed that Lane is possessed by a minor Spirit of Vengeance while he is awake. (DC's WHO'S WHO Volume 1 #7 (1985) incorrectly lists ALL-STAR WESTERN #3 as El Diablo's first appearance.)
MADAME .44's SECRET
On page 16, panel 6, Wise Owl was about to reveal some "treachery" to Johnny Thunder before being shot by Madame .44. Why does she choose this moment to stop Wise Owl rather than to continue to listen and assess the situation? Instead she hurries to take the most dangerous approach, breaking through the window. Although it's natural for her to be worried for her husband's safety, she's shown to be specifically scared when Wise Owl says he can reveal "treachery". On page 22, panel 1, she's about to make a "confession" to Johnny. What could it be? Well, we've see that she's a bit liberal in her sexuality, in the way she manipulates Superchief. She was propositioned by Bat Lash on page 4, and while she rebuffed him, she said they'd later "discuss it". On page 22, panel 2, she sounds in a hurry to get pregnant. My guess: She's already pregnant by someone else, and doesn't want Johnny to know. In 2011, I asked the writer, but he said he didn't remember. What do you think?
13:6 Despite Hawk's advice, Black Bison's great grandson John Ravenhair (Created by Gerry Conway & Pat Broderick) had to be stopped by the hero Firestorm in FURY OF FIRESTORM #1 (1982) when he went on a rampage to avenge social injustices against Native Americans. The original Black Bison's spirit possessed John through the talisman of the Bison Cult .
15:5 Hawk and Firehair are offended because both are "half-breeds".
"Happy Trails" was the signature song of 1930's-40's TV cowboy Roy Rogers.
16:6 Hmm. What "treachery" was Wise Owl about to reveal? (See inset "Madame .44's Secret" for more.)
20:2 Otto Von Hammer is obviously the ancestor of Hans Von Hammer (a.k.a. Enamy Ace) who guest-starred in #83.
20:3 Jason Blood is the Demon Etrigan, whom we'll see more of in the next few issues.
21:4 Oddly for such a detailed book, here we don't see the distinctive streak of color in Hawk's hair, for which he was known.
22:2 Madame .44 and Johnny Thunder indeed will have two children, according to 1980's DC COMICS PRESENTS #28. (See inset "Madame .44's Secret" for more about the confession she was about to make.)
24:3 Abby's comatose husband Matt disconnected his own life support system in last issue.
24:5 The book Liz was reading shows up again in next issue.
COMMENT: This story's title is the same as a 1974 revisionist western comedy film starring Henry Fonda.
Comment: Issues #82 and beyond have not yet been reprinted in a trade paperback.