This node doubles as a drinking game. Instructions: take a drink every time something gets mentioned which constitutes completely implausible circumstances, even by comic-book standards.

Given the number of superheroes, supervillains, neutral metahumans, and obsessive-compulsives in really stupid outfits who inhabit the Marvel Universe, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that some super-handles get used more than once. Red Raven is such a name.

Like Captain America and Prince Namor, his origins go back to comicdom's Golden Age and the 1940s' Timely comics. He may have been created by Jack Kirby, but this is not known for certain. Unlike Captain America and Namor, his original appearance was his last for many years, and no one really wanted credit for the character.

In the first and only issue of Red Raven Comics (1940), we learn of a plane that is struck by lightning in the 1920s during a transatlantic flight. The pilot crash-lands on a floating island hidden in the clouds. Everyone perishes, save for a toddler. The inhabitants of the Sky Isle are Bird People, who resemble humans, but with functional wings and avian egg-laying tendencies. Naturally, the king of the Bird People adopts the foundling, who receives the name "Red Raven," because of his red hair.

Like all humans raised by other species in comics and pulp fiction, the boy grows into a prodigy. Training by the bird people also gives him the ability to fly, with the aid of artificial wings. Red Raven’s first set of wings consisted of a red bat-like membrane that made him resemble a children's Bible illustration of the devil, but which could fold conveniently beneath his everyday clothing. He also possessed a ray-gun of Avian origins, and wore an uninspiring set of red leotards. As a young adult, he returned to human society, where he decided to used his abilities to fight crime.

Golden and Silver Age heroes always required an origin, but hidden societies, often with superior technology, were just there. When Marvel revived the Raven years later, however, in (X-Men #44), the Sky Isle had to be given a history that meshed with a complicated shared universe. It turns out the Bird People were a genetically stable off-shoot of the Inhumans, who separated from their Kree-created parent race and built the floating Isle. Anyway, it turns out Red Raven had been put into suspended animation years earlier, and he was revived. He now had bird-like wings which could project a pulverizing ray. He became a villain for a time, but this Raven turned out to be an evil android duplicate. Red Raven appeared in several X-Men and Namor stories, while the Sky Isle also turned out to be home to a monstrous artificial creature known as the Bi-Beast, who has encountered a number of other heroes. The revived Raven did not impress readers any more than he had in 1940, and he soon died.

In the 1970s, Roy Thomas created the retroactive super-group, the Liberty Legion, less-successful Timely superheroes of the Golden Age who defended American soil while the more popular characters (Captain America, the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, Bucky) fought the war. Red Raven ranked among the Legion’s members in their first appearance, in Marvel Premiere #29. The Legion never really caught on, but their existence filled a gap in the Red Raven's history.

After his death, his genetic material was used to create a second, female Red Raven. She proved about as popular as her father.

During the period that the Raven was suspended between his Timely and Marvel incarnations, another character showed up with the same name. He first made his mark in Rawhide Kid #38 (February, 1964), one of Marvel's western comics.

Both Marvel and DC produced Western comics, which initially chronicled adventures inspired by Hollywood's romanticized view of the Old West. As superheroes came to dominate the market, both companies folded the western heroes into their larger universes. Their adventures became the sort one might expect a cowboy to have if he lived in a universe where superheroes could exist.

This other Red Raven began his career as a red-haired bank robber named Raven, whom Rawhide corralled and sent to the hoosegow. His cellmate turned out to be an aging Navajo shaman, who shared with him a secret Native American technique for making artificial wings that allow a man to glide in ways that almost amount to independent flight. Dodging the question of why Marvel’s Old West wasn’t filled with flying Navajo, the enhanced Raven went on to other crime-filled adventures in the old west, facing both Rawhide and some time-traveling West Coast Avengers.

Iron Man handily defeated this character. Red Ravens haven't been seen much since.

Jeff Christiansen. Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Kevin Garcia. "Red Raven." The Golden Age of Superheroes.

"Red Raven." Marvel Directory.

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