Real Name: Thorn Trask
Identity/Class: Human (Old West era), bird costume wearer
Occupation: Owlhoot (or maybe a polecat)
Affiliations: head of Red Rock's Civic
Enemies: Rawhide Kid
Known Relatives: Nora (sister)
Base of Operations: Red Rock Township and the surrounding desert, Western USA, late 19th Century
First Appearance: Rawhide Kid I#35 (August, 1963)
Powers: As expected, the Raven could fly
and...wait a second. No, he couldn't fly. But he was an
ex-college boxer and could ride a horse and shoot a gun, like
most other non-flighted birds.
Of course, like other Ravens, he was decked out in...some funky maroon color?
History: Thorn Trask went to college somewhere in the Eastern USA, where he was middleweight boxing champion three years in a row. He later moved to (or moved back to) Red Rock, out west. There he headed up the Civic Betterment League. However, while he was working to clean up Red Rock, he also acted as a criminal in disguise, robbing those traveling along the outskirts of the city. He used his boxing skills, dressed himself up like a big red bird, and named himself after a black bird, the Raven.
(Rawhide Kid#35) - The Raven ambushed and the Rawhide Kid, knocked him out by whipping a rock at his head, and robbed him. Later, as Thorn Trask, he reprimanded his sister, Nora, for speaking to the Kid, who was an outlaw. Trask demanded the Kid leave town, then tripped him as he walked out. The Kid didn't cotton to such behavior, and went after Trask, who dodged his blow and floored him with a punch in the jaw. Nora came running back and pulled Thorn off of the Kid and apologized to him. Trask riled up the town against the Kid, accusing him of also being the Raven. The Kid fled from the ensuing mob.
Later, as the Kid slept, the Raven found him again and took his guns, then woke him up and marched him into an old mineshaft where he could dispose of his body. The Kid used a shovel to fling dirt in the Raven's eyes and then knocked the gun from his hand. The Raven kicked him aside and then yanked out a support strut to use as a weapon. The mine shaft then collapsed on him killing him, although the Kid made it out to safety.
Comments: Created by Stan "The Man" Lee and Jack Davis.
In my opinion, the story of the Raven is far
and away the most entertaining of the Western stories I have
read. I didn't say it was the best, but it sure brings a smile to
your face. It's worth the price.
In addition, the Raven really should be considered one of the Rawhide Kid's greatest foes. He defeated or got the better of the Kid in three out of three of their confrontations. The Kid had to resort to dirty pool to even the odds, and even then, he won only after the Raven defeated himself. Of course, none of the struggles involved the Kid using his gun.
There had to be some thought process that
caused Stan to create the Raven in issue#35, and then the Red
Raven in issue#38. The Red Raven of the World War II era had
premiered over twenty years before either of these two. Does
anyone know the deal?
My guess is Stan had forgotten about the WWII character when he did the Raven. Someone said, "Hey Stan, why'd you have Jack make that Raven guy red?" (or perhaps Davis took it on himself). At any rate, the name Red Raven appealed to the alliterative Stan, and he went with it. Or he'd forgotten his character from a few months before, but it was in the back of his head, and he used the concept again, but this time with a flighted character.
The cover of Rawhide Kid I#35 shows the Raven to have green plumage, while the inside has him red.
People wearing bird costumes, yet lacking flying abilities is not unheard of. The Falcon went a few years as just an athlete before getting the flight costume, courtesy of the Black Panther. Then there's the Osprey, although he was a joke character. While not a bird, the original Angel from the Golden Age had a halo and a cape, but couldn't fly until much later in his career. Not unheard of, however, does not mean not a dumb idea.
Will the Raven be seen again? Nevermore.
Actually, a very nasty Col. Richard Trask shows up in the Apache Skies limited series, with some unexplained back history with the Rawhide Kid. He's never identified as anyone other than Trask, but I still think he could be the Raven. Is it possible that "Thorn" is just a nickname? Absolutely. Will this ever be clarified? Doubtful.
It's entirely possible that Thorn and Nora Trask had a red-haired middle sibling. And that he adopted "Raven" as his new surname when he turned outlaw. He might have even been inspired to do so by the species of bird nesting on the geological formation for which the town of Red Rock was named. This brother, the Red Raven, in turn, could have inspired Thorn's own alias, the Raven. The first few crimes he pulled would initially have been blamed on "Red!" --Carycomic@aol.com
No known connection to:
Nora Trask was the more well-adjusted sister of Thorn "Bird Man of the Desert" Trask. She was kind of sweet on the Rawhide Kid, and he took a shine to her as well. However, Thorn kept them apart in life, and in death, the Kid decided not to tell her his secret, to prevent her shame. He instead had her told that Thorn lost his life trying to stop the "real Raven", the Rawhide Kid. Then he just moseyed on to another town, and another adventure.
--Rawhide Kid I#35
Rawhide Kid I#35 (August, 1963) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Davis (artist)
Last updated: 10/24/10
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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