What if a superhero lived among the Comanche tribe in Kansas in the 18th Century?
In an epic answer that question, one Reddit user imagined what would happen if the comic book hero Superman grew up among Native Americans in 1775.
The post answered a hypothetical question posed in the AskScienceFiction section: “How does it change/affect history in North America and the world?”
A writer named Naugrith responded with a grim and poetic look at what happens when super-powers manifest in a time before modern medicine and laws.
Spoilers follow below…
Here’s part of the story of “Iron Jacket,” a Superman-like hero among the Comanche tribe:
“He said that Iron Jacket must be a supernatural being, for he had seen the Comanche chief shot dead centre without any harm coming to him. The Mexicans and Texans became terrified of Iron Jacket, and the Comanche became a name to be feared.”
Despite his supernatural powers, Iron Jacket is unable to save his family and friends from the nightmares of smallpox and colonization sweeping North America.
“Iron Jacket knelt in the dirt as tears poured down his face. His wife and daughter lay under the Wichita mountains, and their belongings lay burning before him, the flames dancing on his tear-soaked face. The smallpox had taken them both, and devastated the Quahada. Barely half of them remained. The rest of the Comanche faced similar woe. Iron Jacket was devastated.”
The whole dark story hinges on a single sentence at the end of the Reddit post: “This is actually a true story.”
Iron Jacket was a real person, and the post brought his life into sad focus. The Texas State Historical Association described his life briefly: “a Comanche chieftain and medicine man to whom the Indians attributed the power to blow approaching missiles aside with his breath.”