“Listen carefully, my son. You are not meant to right all the wrongs in the world. Seek justice in everything you do. But do not seek a fight. Violence only if it comes to you. These are not the teachings of the tribe. These are my teachings. You are your own man, Red Wolf. The world is changing quickly. You may not always understand it, but right and wrong will never change. The world is always talking to you, Red. If you rush to fight it, you won’t hear it. And if you can’t hear it speak, you can’t answer to it with justice.”
One of the great things about comics is the diversity of characters on offer. So, when a graphic novel focuses on a Native American superhero, it offers a fresh perspective on a well-known genre. Red Wolf: Man Out Of Time, written by Nathan Edmondson, follows Cheyenne warrior Red Wolf on a journey through time as he tries to balance his life as an outsider and protector.
Spinning out of Secret Wars, the event that reshaped the Marvel Universe, Red Wolf finds himself Sheriff of the small town of Timely. Beginning in 1872, Red Wolf stops a dispute between two men over cattle. The men aren’t interested in settling it peacefully, so Red Wolf breaks up the fight with his lasso and knife. Immediately, the reader is shown how capable he is, giving Red Wolf agency over his own story.
The Sheriff pays a visit to his mother Luyu and they’re visited by a boy who claims a murder has been committed in town. Red Wolf and the boy follow tracks leading into the forest, but the boy is killed by the unseen murderer. The town blame Red Wolf for killing the boy, only for a man called The Surveyor to reveal himself as the culprit. Surveyor, a time traveller, has come to the past for an unknown purpose and he and Red Wolf battle.
During the fight, Red Wolf damages Surveyor’s equipment and finds himself transported to the year 2007. He wakes up in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, disoriented and in shock of where he is. Red Wolf soon becomes entangled in a war between the Santa Rosa police department and a drug gang led by a man named The Rattler. Red Wolf works with Sheriff Knight and Deputy Ortiz, with the former being killed one of The Rattler’s snakes. It’s revealed this was on orders of the mayor, as he’s working with a shady organisation that’s trying to expand their influence in Santa Rosa.
Deputy Ortiz is injured and after she’s recovered, she and Red Wolf track down the gang. The Surveyor returns and although Red Wolf defeats him, he escapes through time. Deputy Ortiz confronts Rattler, but she’s outnumbered by his men. This leads to Red Wolf unleashing his power to control animals and attacks the gang with a pack of wolves. Rattler is taken into custody, while Red Wolf vows Santa Rosa is under his protection.
I found Red Wolf to be an interesting protagonist. He displays a calm, authoritative presence throughout the story, showing his courage multiple times. He’s a fish out of water when he comes to the modern era, making his lack of understanding hilarious and endearing. Edmondson never portrays him as a stereotype, and though there is commentary on how Native Americans have been mistreated, Red Wolf is never defined by his ethnicity. He’s allowed to exist outside of his heritage as a human character who solves problems on his own. I think the story benefitted greatly from having Native American graphic designer, Jeffrey Veregge as a consultant.
The art is handled by Dalibor Talajic, Jose Marzan Jr and Miroslav Mrva. Together, they create crisp panels that pop with colour and emotion. There’s a lot of detail in Red Wolf’s clothing that fits with the western and modern-day settings.
Red Wolf: Man Out Of Time works well as a western and superhero story. It has a grounded feeling to it that makes it seem like more of an indie comic than a Marvel product. If you’re interested in reading about a strong, Native American protagonist, you can buy the graphic novel right here.