The American Eagle was in comic book limbo for 13 years. He made his thunderous return in Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts. Ellis took the original Wilson/Moench concept, sanded down the dated 1980s aspects, kept the reluctant/grumpy angle from the Figueroa/Wilson 1990s take, and made him far more grounded and charismatic.
- Real Name: Jason Strongbow.
- Marital Status: Single.
- Known Relatives: Ward (brother, deceased), a possibly mythical unnamed tribal chief (deceased), unnamed father (deceased), Jimmy Littlehawk (cousin), Bonita Littlehawk (aunt).
- Group Affiliation: Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, Agent of Wakanda.
- Base of Operations: Navaho Reservation, AZ.
- Height: 6’1″ Weight: 210 lbs.
- Eyes: Brown Hair: Black.
Powers & Abilities
When it comes to opponents, one certainly can find easier pickings. The American Eagle can prevail even against a 2000s Iron Man suit.
He still occasionally uses his crossbow. But it is now more realistic. It is also meant as a mobility aid (say, to climb a building) or if he needs to make a ranged attack. He won’t routinely pack it.
He further demonstrates blue collar technical skills, such as welding. These previously were but implicit in the design of his costume and crossbow.
A Marvel secondary source alleges that he can run at 65mph for hours. But that contradicts the material and his use of a motorcycle, horses, his crossbow, etc. to travel. In some scenes he moves very quickly, but a non-superspeed acrobat (say, Longshot) would be drawn in the same way. Still, he does seem faster than before.
The aforementioned motorcycle seems to be a late 2000s Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom .
Secondary sources state he’s now with the Navajo Nation’s police. Whether he’s actually an officer is unclear, though he’s on excellent terms with his colleagues.
He also has a semi-functional working relationship with the PD of nearby non-rez municipalities. He *might* have kept ties with an FBI agent or two, and/or an Interpol agent.
American Eagle is also seen working with a tribal chief. One might thus suspect that he stepped down from his leadership responsibilities. But that’s likely not the case. Arizona has vast patches of disconnected reservations, and Mr. Strongbow seems to work with all or most of these. Thus, the chief could easily have been part of a different community – quite possibly not Navaho.
Let’s see, something more modern and more specifically Diné… Yeah, let’s go with Blackfire. No, they’re not from Tamaran, you wisenheimers. They’re from Black Mesa. No, not the Half-Life one, the real one in Arizona. Jeez.
The Benally siblings were chiefly active as Blackfire during the 1990s and the 2000s. They do solid garage/punk rock, and Klee’s deep and calm voice also makes them reminiscent of Pearl Jam. Or Black Flag, depending on the tune.
This here song is notable since the words are by iconic protest singer Woody Guthrie. Guthrie’s daughter found unused lyrics from her dad and gifted them to Blackfire, with cool results. And a huge drop.
The American Eagle continued to serve as a minor, somewhat reluctant hero. He chiefly dealt with local problems, or at the request of people with ties to Arizonan reservations (Diné, Mohave, Yaqui, White Mountain Apache, Hopi, Paiute, etc.).
Few cases were mentioned. During the mid-2000s he fought a drunk, depressed criminal named Bobby Lame Wolf. Having found an old Cobalt Man power armour , Lame Wolf tried to take an entire casino hostage after his girlfriend left him. The Eagle took him down, though Jason’s costume was ruined in the fight.
At some unrevealed point (late 1990s ?), the American Eagle worked with War Machine (James Rhodes). Circa 2007, Jim asked Jason if his mum Roberta could come live on the res, so she wouldn’t be targeted for retortion by US law for her son’s actions. The Navajo Nation agreed and Mrs. Rhodes moved to a house in their desert.
I don’t need your Civil War
In 2007, the Federal government, under the influence of Norman Osborn, passed the Superhuman Registration Act. This likely meant that Eagle would be forced to register to continue superhuman activities beyond the res.
This rubbed Mr. Strongbow the wrong way. He reasonably expected legislation to be unfairly applied against Natives. A friend of his also pointed out that Osborn’s organisation HAMMER had already used this law as a weapon against Black heroes, particularly Luke Cage and the late Black Goliath (Bill Foster).
At this point, the Steel Spider (Oliver Osnick) got into a bad row with Navaho gangsters in Phoenix. This would likely lead to deaths. Thus, Mr. Strongbow reluctantly drove to Phoenix to intervene and de-escalate.
At this point, Osborn predictably made everything so much worse by sending the Thunderbolts to curbstomp Steel Spider.
Maricopa, mon amour
When the Thunderbolts attacked, Strongbow was attempting to reason with the paranoid Osnick. Though the Eagle certainly didn’t like the Steel Spider, he couldn’t in good conscience let him be arrested. Obscure heroine Sepulchre (Jillian Woods) was also accidentally caught in the battle.
The Thunderbolts underestimated whom they were dealing with. Strongbow inflicted a nasty wound to Moonstone (Karla Sofen)’s arm, mauled Venom (Mac Gargan), and overwhelmed Bullseye. Bullseye was remotely paralysed just as the unsuspecting American Eagle hit him, and suffered massive spinal damage.
In the wake of this disaster, the Commission On Superhuman Activities didn’t take action against the reservation-based American Eagle. This was too much of a legal minefield.
No step on snek
In 2008, super-criminal Cottonmouth (Burchell Clemens) fled from Initiative agents and into Navaho turf. Officers of the Navajo Nation Police forbade the agents from giving chase, and requested the American Eagle’s assistance.
Strongbow easily tracked Clemens down in the desert. He freed the local girl Cottonmouth had taken hostage. He then forced Clemens into hard labour to compensate for scaring the lass and killing three of her dad’s dogs. The first order was to dig proper graves for the dogs.
Despite his distaste for the Initiative, Strongbow likely then handed his prisoner over to the Phoenix Police Department. Since Clemens had seriously wounded several bank guards there.
Only the strong
While he was in armed conflict with HAMMER abroad, War Machine came to his mother’s house. That was to prepare an attack on an Arizonan military base. Which was well beyond what had been agreed upon to protect Mrs. Rhodes from official harassment.
Mr. Strongbow came to confront Mr. Rhodes and his pit crew. When Rhodey refused to back down, the American Eagle reluctantly used force. However, he soon discovered that the War Machine he had taken down was a backup suit manned by Jake Oh as a diversion from Rhodes’ attack on the base.
As the Eagle rushed to the base, he saw that Rhodey had actually underestimated the problem. HAMMER had not only been studying stupidly dangerous technology there, but also had the head of the Ultimo alien robot. It reanimated and started killing the soldiers. Given the disaster, War Machine and American Eagle teamed up to stop it.
Seeing that Norman Osborn and HAMMER were keeping uncontrolled alien weapons within miles of the res’ border incensed Strongbow. It also made it clear that Rhodey’s seemingly beyond the pale actions were justified. Therefore, Jason and the Rhodeses stayed on good terms.
Play stupid games, earn stupid prizes
In 2011, tension rose between the small municipality of Bleachville and their neighbouring reservation. Both polities were competing for a wind farm contract, as both sorely needed the revenue this would bring. And Bleachville’s Mayor’s racism tanked an attempt at talks.
The area had also had been experiencing problems with the Great White Sharks. These were a rural gang of drugs runners, known for being fond of their merchandise. Not wanting to see the wind farm money go to “those people”, the desperate Mayor cut a deal with them.
Some Sharks thus dosed themselves on Mutant Growth Hormone to gain temporary super-powers. They attempted to pass themselves for Native spirits inciting a riot.
Not only was this plan amazingly stupid and ignorant, they had murdered and scalped a Bleachville police officer to frame the res folks. Both the American Eagle and the tribal chief he was working with briefly pretended to go along, to expose the Mayor.
The Bleachville police had an okay relationship with the Eagle. They had worked together against the Great White Sharks. And the cops had been shocked by the murder of their colleague. They thus sided with the reservation folks to arrest the Mayor, then to facilitate talks about the wind farm contract.
Agent of Wakanda
In 2019, the Black Panther (King T’Challa) set up a special organisation to support the Avengers. It was run by Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje — Wakanda’s Praetorian Guard.
These agents of Wakanda were a wide variety of specialists, capable of operating solo in terrible conditions.
The American Eagle was one of the experts they approached. Though his priority was the res, he liked what he saw. Jason agreed to help when needed, and has already been deployed at least once for solo work.
Strongbow has dropped his 1980s super-hero costume, which he sarcastically referred to as his YMCA outfit. This is a reference to Village People member Felipe Rose, who usually performed in Native (or Native-inspired) garb.
As to the 1990s suit, it was destroyed in battle.
He still reluctantly wears one piece of super-hero-like paraphernalia, for identification. This distinctive helmet has its visor styled like an eagle’s beak. This makes it reminiscent of the uniforms in Battle of the Planets / Science Ninja Team Gatchaman / 科学忍者隊ガッチャマン. He’ll wear it when going to Phoenix or the like, but not in the desert.
Though he’s no longer drawn as tall and massive as before, he still seems bigger than his official vitals.
You can note the dog-tags-looking-pendant in the art. This is one of the more notable clues he may have served during his youth… *if* these are indeed dog tags.
Grumpy and a tad grim. Strongbow is fed up with the world’s bullshit, endless injustice heaped upon his people, and general stupidity.
He’s wary of outsiders — especially if they wield some sort of authority — since there’s an *history*. He has a large chip on his shoulder, especially if he can smell that some racist [expletive deleted] is coming up.
But though he’s no longer an activist and idealist, he’s still interested in building a better world. It’s just that he does so on a smaller, more local scale. He protects the “checkerboard” of reservations spread across Arizona, and works on establishing better relations with neighbours and partners.
Jason can’t stand bullies. Part of his reluctance to muscle in seems to because he doesn’t want to be one. This may also be why he prefers not to sound like an authority figure.
On the other hand he likes mavericks who fight for what’s right. Especially if they’re minorities.
Though he can appear angry and stony-faced, Jason actually has an excellent rapport with those people whom he does trust. These folks appreciate the American Eagle as a helpful, warm, altruistic, reliable, honest friend and community organiser with excellent people skills.
Mr. Strongbow occasionally employs sarcastic, low-key humour. That depends on his mood. Sometimes he’s more grim, or visibly irritated.
Strongbow is proud of being from the harsh Arizona desert. He’s also proud of being an American, and likes keeping a patriotic theme to his field clothes and his vehicles. A typical example would be the flag painted on the fuel tank of his Harley.
When confronting Bullseye he went for a little “country rules, city drools” speech. It seems to have mostly, but not entirely, been trash talk to provoke his opponent. The general vibe was “you’re so pathetic I’m giving you a free shot”. Except the Eagle absolutely didn’t give Bullseye a free shot.
He’s not fond of super-hero aesthetics, feeling embarrassed when he’s wearing something too costume-like. But he reluctantly understands the value of signalling that he’s one, for instance to reassure civilians.
Amusingly, this Navaho man embodies many of the ideal qualities for American Frontier settlers. Strongbow is ruggedly individualistic yet actively caring about his neighbours, gruff but very much involved in the community, proud of what he is and where he is from but open-minded, ready to stand up to any tyrant with defiant courage and a natural born fighter’s skill and innovative tactics.
(Moodily holding his beer) “What am I thinking ? I’m thinking about shoving their [Superhuman] Registration [Act] right up their backsides.”
“No, wait. I get it. The super hero thing. You think we’re all in a club.”
“Hey, back up. You’ve got a New York City accent and I was born ten miles from here. So you do not want to sound too entitled right now.”
“I’ve read about you, Bullseye. Killing regular people. Fighting unpowered operators like Daredevil. Pick your targets carefully, don’t you ? Like some schoolyard jerk. Looking for little kids to kick around. You spineless little sack of crap. […] But you and me are in Phoenix, Arizona [now]. So you take a swing at a real American and see what happens.”
“You folks ain’t got no jurisdiction out here. You’re on *Indian* land. Now get the hell off it. And tell Tony Stark he can kiss my ass.”
“No. You’re not getting any of that. Here’s what’s gonna happen instead. I’m gonna take my fist and punch you in your big, stupid mouth. And there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it.”
Tribal chief (sarcastically): “Eagle ? Please use your mysterious Native powers to reveal who is responsible for this deception.”
American Eagle (sarcastically): “Very well, Chief Runs-With-An-IPod. But only if my spirit medicine allows.” (lifts a thug in the air with one hand and shakes him a bit so he’ll talk).
Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly
American Eagle (2000s+)
|Dex: 09||Str: 16||Bod: 10||Motivation: Responsibility|
|Int: 07||Wil: 05||Min: 06||Occupation: Tribal leader|
|Inf: 06||Aur: 06||Spi: 06||Wealth: 006|
|Init: 028||HP: 025|
Enhanced Initiative: 04, Extended hearing: 03, Super hearing: 02, Telescopic vision: 02, Ultra-vision: 03
Bonuses and Limitations:
Ultra-vision is Night Vision only.
Acrobatics: 07, Animals handling (Horses): 05, Detective (Legwork): 06, Gadgetry: 04, Martial Artist: 10, Military science (Danger sense, tracking, camouflage, survival): 06, Vehicles (Land): 05, Weaponry (Crossbow): 09
Area Knowledge (Arizona), Expertise (Navaho lore), Familiarity (Parachuting, Superhuman operators, Native cultures in Arizona), Iron Nerves, Language (Navajo), Partial Attack Vulnerability (-2CS RV vs Ballistic and Piercing, -1 CS RV vs Slashing), Sharp Eye, Misc.: as a reservation representative, Strongbow has a specific and complicated legal status re. the USA.
Navajo Nation government (Low), Street (Low), James Rhodes and his mum (Low), Okoye and the agents of Wakanda (Low).
Crossbow [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 06, Ammo: 08, Bonus: Projectile weapon can trail a rope and act as a piton].
Adding Super-hearing is poorly substantiated. Mostly it feels right, and I *assume* that’s how he heard the whistling sound of a thrown knife leaving Bullseye’s hand.
Source of Character: Marvel Comics.
Helper(s): Darci, Sampson Pete, plus rpg.net’s Tangency for identifying the exact kind of Harley (CosmicCowboy, OldKentuckyShark, Cailet, Last Knight, celebdae’s dad).
Writeup completed on the 30th of September, 2019.