Manitou Raven & Manitou Dawn

Created by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke

NAME + ALIASES:
Manitou Raven

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Dawn (wife)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
The Ancients, Justice League of America

FIRST APPEARANCE:
JLA #66 (July 2002)

DEATH:
Justice League Elite #8 (April 2005)

NAME + ALIASES:
Manitou Dawn

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Manitou Raven (husband, deceased)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Justice League of America

FIRST APPEARANCE:
JLA #75 (January 2003)

+ History

Manitou Raven and Dawn hail from the Obsidian Age of Atlantis, circa 1000 BCE. They were born in North America, from a tribe which would one day become the Apache Indians. Few details are known about Raven's early life. It is also unclear whether his command of mystical forces was learned or innate.

When Dawn herself was thirteen, she was called the "Goat," because unlike other girls, she fought back when pushed. As she matured, she drew the attention of her tribe's chief, Big Father. He bought her from her family, but things ended badly. Ultimately she found a dynamic and kindred spirit in Raven. The two actually fell in love on the night Dawn burned his house to the ground.

Raven was recruited by the rulers of Atlantis — Rama Khan and Gamemnae — to join heroes from across the globe (and from rival societies) and form a multicultural "League of Ancients."

In response to a dire prophecy by Gamemnae, Raven traveled to the 21st century to destroy the Justice League. (JLA #66) He barely managed to return to Atlantis to alert the Ancients that the JLA were en route. (#70) The JLA ultimately traveled back to the Ancients' time and were slain, but Green Lantern's bravery convinced Raven to switch sides. He used GL's heart as a sacrifice in order to weave a spell to save the Leaguers' souls. With the resulting power, he cast a containment spell around Atlantis, effectively trapping the evil Gamemnae. (#74) Eventually another team of Leaguers arrived and defeated Gamemnae. Raven and Dawn then chose to accompany the returning Atlanteans into the future. (#75) Following this, Jason Blood left the JLA and suggested Manitou Raven as his replacement. (#76) Superman formally admitted him soon thereafter. (#78)

After some initial culture shock, Dawn took quickly into Twentieth Century culture. In her first interaction with the JLA, she offered herself sexually to Superman! She soon set about learning English with the help of her new friend, Firestorm. (#81) Meanwhile the Manitou continued to immerse himself in his work. He even visited a reservation casino built on what was once his tribe's land. It's location was not specified, but he called it gontee ni, "ground of four fingers."

The Manitou's fate changed the day Vera Lynn Black approached the JLA with a proposition. It seemed that a powerful chaos was emanating from the Earth's very being. The mother goddess, Gaea, was awakening and in her anger she threatened to destroy humanity. Though Superman was understandably hesitant to ally with Vera's new Elite, Raven confirmed Vera's prophesies. The JLA and the Elite subsequently staged an elaborate battle and convinced Gaea that humans were worthy of inheriting the planet.

After this, Vera boldly proposed the formation of a sort of "black ops" JLA team: the Justice League Elite. Superman and Batman denied Vera membership in the League, which angered several of their teammates, including Raven, the Flash and Major Disaster, who all believed that Black had proved herself worthy. They left the main JLA and allied with her in this new venture. (JLA #100) Thus the Justice League Elite became a sort of "not-exactly-sanctioned don't-ask-don't-tell covert operations unit. Their mission was to hunt and eliminate extranormal threats to the Earth before they went public. (JLA Secret Files 2004)

This new undercover branch of the League moved to a secret base in New Jersey called The Factory. Dawn, of course, accompanied her husband. (JL Elite #1) In their first mission, they infiltrated an organization of assassins that led to the takedown of the despotic dictator, Hi-Shan Bhat. With Bhat in custody, Vera's disembodied brother, Manchester Black, began asserting some control over his sister, who blacked out while Bhat was being held. In her unconsciousness, Menagerie secretly coaxed Coldcast into killing Bhat. Coldcast retained no memory of the act, and no other members were present. (#3)

Vera knew this bode poorly for their future; upon their return, she charged Raven with divining the identity of the team's traitor, Bhat's killer. (#4) During this time, Dawn became distanced from her husband. His constant attention to work and the trials of the "Stony Path" kept him from satisfying her needs. Dawn became friendly with Green Arrow, who had vowed to quit the team because of Bhat's death. (#4) Soon the two engaged in a sexual relationship — not unbeknownst to Raven. (#7) Raven was angered of course, but consumed by his work. He acquired the "Eye of 18 Pupils" in order to divine the truth behind Bhat's death. (#5)

But before Raven could reveal the team's killer, he followed the them in pursuit pursuit of the villain Aftermath. There Raven invoked his magic one last time and died taking the brunt of a bomb. (#8) This would not be the last heard from such a powerful magician.

Back on Aftermath's ship, Vera was fully taken over by the disembodied Manchester Black. (#7) Black had sensed great power in the source and made mental contact with an ancient female warrior named Eve. Black emerged from the Source alongside her, in full possession of Vera's body. (#8) Just before his death, Raven discovered the identity of the team's killer, but it was their coordinator, Naif al-Sheikh whose investigation linked Coldcast with DNA evidence to the crime. Coldcast confessed to the murder and was taken to the Slab.

Just after his death, Raven appeared to several members of the Elite. Major Disaster had been drunk at the time of Raven's death, and felt responsible. Disaster returned Raven's hatchet and stick to Dawn, then went on to privately attempt suicide. (#9) He was interrupted by the spirit of the Manitou and had a revelation. He left the team and joined AA. Al-Sheikh closed the Factory and offered housing for Dawn, which she refused. She gave al-Sheikh Raven's hatchet, but kept his staff for herself. Then in grief and anger, she too summoned Raven's spirit via the staff and uttered his magic phrase, "Inukchuk!" (#10)

All seemed lost for the Elite. Even Vera's closest friends now believed that Manchester had been in control of her from the beginning. But Manitou Raven made sure justice would be done: he appeared to the members of the Elite and implored them to regroup against Manchester and free Vera. Dawn then assumed Manitou Raven's mantle of power, and she was permanently marked on the face by his touch. (#11)

Raven's spirit guided the Elite into battle. Black's defeat began when Raven gave Vera his Eye of Eighteen Pupils, which enabled her to recognize the true strength within herself and regain mental control of her body. Raven further claimed that if she could assert control over the Whorlogog (a miniature of the universe) within her, all Black's evil could be undone. Green Arrow threw Raven's staff (which was itself cleaved from the essence of the universe) and finally disconnected Vera from Black's presence. The Elite disappeared and the public was left to believe that the JLA had saved the day.

Dawn helped wrap up the Elite's final piece of business: capturing the traitor, Menagerie. Vera and all the Elite were granted new leases on life. Al-Sheikh was released from prison and he and Vera hinted at a new plan to rejoin with "a few friends." (#12) Dawn has since taken the title of "Manitou" for herself and was present for Aquaman's ceremony that ended the JLA. There she also met the Black Canary, who sensed Dawn's former affair with Green Arrow. (JLA #120) She was a key player in stopping the Key, who had developed new, super-powerful telepathy.

During the Elite's final battle, Manitou Raven appeared in both the form of a Raven and as a spectral version of his former self. So far, Raven has remained close to Dawn, in a spiritual form, acting as an unpredictable advisor.

Notes

The word "Manitou" means "god." His name might be translated as "raven god." Manitou Raven uses the phrase "Inukchuk!" to grow super-tall, just like Apache Chief from the Super Friends cartoon. A sign in JLA #67 which read "Apache Land" gave the first clue to Manitou Raven's link to Apache Chief.

+ Powers

Manitou Raven is a master magician. His abilities come from having studied the ways of "the Stony Path." He is capable of casting spells which can hold fast over millennia. He is so practiced that he can hold his own against powerful other-worldly spirits.

While alive, he also wielded several powerful mystical artifacts: his hatchet which could not pierce the skin of a good man; his dreamcatcher which keeps history and secrets; and a headdress that sings with ancient knowledge.

His most powerful weapon was his medicine stick. This was actually a piece of the universe, cleaved by Raven as a ritual in his gradual ascension up the Stony Path. The stick is an unbreakable manifestation of his spirit.

Upon his death, Dawn inherited these artifacts and bequeathed the hatchet to Naif al-Sheikh. The medicine stick was used in the Elite's final battle to break the power of another cosmic artifact: the Whorlogog. The stick survived this and remains in Dawn's possession.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • JLA #66-67, 70, 74, 75, 76, 80, 81, 84-89, 94, 100 

» SERIES:

  • Justice League Elite, 12-issue limited series (2004-05)