Real Name: Unrevealed
Identity/Class: Human magic user, possibly degenerated into demonic form
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Clown demons, Iktomi
Enemies: Ghost Dancer (Nathaniel Great Owl), Ghost Dancer (James Owl), Lori, Mike, Patti
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Currently unrevealed;
formerly mobile across Earth
First Appearance: Dances with Demons#1 (September, 1993)
Powers/Abilities: The Manitou was superhumanly strong (at least enhanced human) and highly resistant to injury. Many of its power were associated with necromancy, in which it slew a victim and then used its entrails to divine pathways, track individuals, or see distant events. It could also don the flesh of a victim and adopt that victim's form. Its other abilities remain unspecified.
(Marvel Frontier Comics Special#1/2 -BTS) <December 21, 1925> - Curtis M. Edwards, possessed by one of the Clown demons, sought to become Manitou. He was foiled by Ghost Dancer (Nathaniel Great Owl) and apparently perished.
(Dances with Demons#1) - A human anthropologist sought to discover tribal secrets believed long forgotten. There remained a few, condemned as crazy by their tribes, who believed that the current world was not the first, that there had been others before it that still existed, hidden from the eyes of the unenlightened. To his astonishment, some of these believers offered to enlighten him, despite the fact that he was nothing but a nosey foreigner, a belagana. As he stepped into the smoke-filled Kiva--a sweat lodge--he wondered what knowledge awaited him. The last thing he expected was a trap. To some, to be Manitou is to be holy, to others it is to be cursed. The believers sought to curse the belagana, but he turned their curse into a blessing and tore their secrets from their screaming souls. The man become the Manitou demon.
(Dances with Demons#1 (fb) - BTS / Dances with Demons#1 (fb) - BTS) - For decades, the Manitou demon served the Death way, feeding its hunger and being transformed by it. His goal remained to become the Ghost Dancer to gain freedom from the demands of the Death Way, as well as access to the deepest, darkest, most secret world. The angry ghosts of the righteous dead would rise up into the modern world and the Death Way would be sated on the blood of humanity.
(Dances with Demons#1) - The Manitou demon confronted the
weakened Nathaniel in a New York subway. Nathaniel transformed into Ghost Dancer
and fought back, but was slain when his chest was slashed open by the Manitou
demons' lesser demons, the Clowns. The Manitou then tore off Ghost Dancer's head,
questioning why it hadn't received his power and where he was hiding his soul,
at which point a hawk (Lori, guardian to the Ghost Dancer) burst forth from his chest and escaped, despite the
Clowns' efforts to stop it.
When a drunk wandered into the tunnel, Manitou slew him, and used his flesh to adopt the man's form.
Reappearing above South Central Los Angeles, Lori took a wound from the Clown before casting it to the alley below.
(Dances with Demons#1 - BTS) - Following Lori's trail, the Manitou read the augurs from the entrails of a child in New Jersey, then a bar singer just outside Pittsburgh.
(Dances with Demons#1) - From the augurs of yet another human's entrails, the Manitou followed Lori's trail, continuing its trek westward.
(Dances with Demons#2) - From the augurs of the entrails of the Eischers, a family staying at a motel just west of Albuquerque, the Manitou located his Clown demon that had been slain by Lori. He reanimated it and sent it after her and James Owl, the youth destined to become the next Ghost Dancer. The Manitou then told Mr. Eichers, or, more correctly, the skin torn from the head of Mr. Eichers, that the worst of the pain was over, as he donned the skin and took the victim's form and headed west again. Somewhere further along the way he slew a police officer and took his form. He then confronted Ethan and Mrs. Owl, James parents, and slew them both. He took Ethan Owl's form, and when James returned home he prepared to ambush him, but Ethan's spirit fought back, forcing the Manitou to reveal itself prematurely. As the Manitou grabbed James, the boy transformed into Ghost Dancer for the first time. The energy backlash knocked the Manitou back, but it left Ghost Dancer exhausted.
(Dances with Demons#3) - Manitou easily overpowered Ghost
Dancer but Lori then arrived and jumped into the fight. She was no match for the
Manitou, but James then had a flash of his grandfather's memories, and Nathaniel
took over the Ghost Dancer's form and fought for him. Nathaniel cast off the
Clowns swarming over him and rescued Lori, who in turn temporarily healed James'
after he had been skewered by one of the Clowns. James regained his own mind and
fled via motorcycle with Lori and Mike to the Grand Canyon to complete his
The Manitou and his Clown demons retreated to a storm drain, where they were met by the trickster Iktomi, who offered to lead them to James in exchange for the return of his power of change. Iktomi then led James' close friend Patti to Manitou.
(Dances with Demons#4 (fb) - BTS) - Iktomi, Manitou, and the Clowns inhabited the flesh of Patti, forcing her to use her spiritual connection to James to lead them to him.
(Dances with Demons#4) - As James continued his confrontation with his ancestor Ghost Dancers, Patti--possessed by Iktomi, Manitou, and the Clowns--was forced to follow the psychic trail to James, after which they erupted from her form. Mike and Lori held off the attackers as long as they could, but Manitou eventually cornered killed Mike and then cornered Lori, taking his time to brutally slay her. However, as the Manitou entered the cave in which he was meditating, James completed the ritual, tearing the heart from the last standing Ghost Dancer and taking it for himself. Accepting the mantle and power of the Ghost Dancer, he seemed to grow to great size and consume Manitou, who vanished into darkness.
Comments: Created by Simon Jowett and Charlie Adlard.
The Manitou referenced in this story is not the Native American sky god,
though that's where he derived the name from. Manitou is Algonqui for Spirit. I
honestly don't get what the connection is supposed to be.
Manitou, The Great Spirit, is an Algonquin term, often erroneously applied as spirit monster. Manitou combines the meanings of Spirit, mystery, magic, and generally is applied to the manifestation of some form of power that is not readily understood or coming from elsewhere.
The way Marvel depicted him makes him sound very similar to the Skin-walkers of Navajo mythology. Now, the Navajo (like the Apache) are of the Athabaskan family of Native American languages. Named, of course, for the Chipewayan tribal band near Lake Athabasca, in Canada.
As for the generic Algonquin roots of "manitou?" The word probably came into the Southwest, in the mid-1800's, with the splinter faction of Kickapoo Indians who refused to live on reservations in Wisconsin. Some of their descendants still live in Mexico, to this day.
And, up until their defeat by American cavalry (under the notorious Kit Carson), the Navajo did a lot of raiding into Mexico. Occasionally, even taking captives who ultimately married into the tribe. In fact, they even have a few tribal clans of partial Hopi descent!
I would, therefore, postulate that the Manitou battled by the Ghost Dancer(s) is of mixed pantheonic origin. And, a minor god--degenerated into a demon--to boot.
I guess James and his family were Hopi, but the names of all the different characters were from different tribes. Manitou is Algonquin, Iktomi is Lakota...
The existence of the Ghost Dancer was somehow related to the three worlds that allegedly existed before the current one:
Profile by Snood.
Manitou should be distinguished from:
Manitou (Wisaka) - Native American sky god—Ghost Rider II#49
images: (without ads)
Dances with Demons#4 cover (main)
#1, p15, panel 1 (human form)
Dances with Demons#1-4 (September-December, 1993) - by Simon Jowett (script), Charlie Adlard (art), Garry Russell (editor)
Last updated: 07/02/06
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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