As a Native American who specializes in tracking, Charlie Iron-Knife knows he's a bit of a walking stereotype. What makes this all the more frustrating for him is that he can't exactly help but be good at tracking. Born with a bad case of sensory integration dysfunction rather than some sort innate, magical ability, living with his disability meant that Charlie had to learn to get good at honing in on things, at not letting his senses get overloaded. Because of this, his learned focus now allows him to see things that even those not affected by processing disorders wouldn't. While not even they seem to be able to stop the occasional racist joke from coming his way, Charlie has found a place where his abilities are understood and appreciated in G.I. Joe, operating as a member of the team under the codename Spirit.
Charlie Iron-Knife was a descendant of a Native American tribe that was known for creating their own cities, their civilizations dating back a thousand years to a time when European society was still stuck in brutal barbarianism. However, city life would prove to not be for Charlie. Born with sensory integration dysfunction, the loud, never-ending hustle and bustle of the city he was born in was far too much for him to handle. Because of this, his occupational therapists recommended his family move him to a much quieter environment. Out in the desert, Charlie now had the space and time to learn to live with his disability and even learn to better control his senses to a certain extent.
At some point Charlie joined the U.S. Army. While serving, Charlie found that the focus he'd learned as a boy made him a great tracker, able to perceive things as small as whether a rock had been driven down further into the ground from somebody stepping on it recently. While his skills were quite useful, his teammates would often assume his skills came about as a result of him being a Native American and, therefore, "at one with nature". While some would merely talk about his "magical abilities" in hushed tones behind his back, others were more direct with their racist assumptions about him, delivering old movie quotes about the nature of those savage natives to his face. This led to him preferring to spend his off time by himself with his headphones rather than socialize with those he served alongside to avoid both their comments and any potential rowdiness that might set off his sensory issues. Spirit
Charlie was eventually recruited for the G.I. Joe team with the codename Spirit. At some point he became good friends with Rock 'n Roll. G.I. Joe vol. 5 #6
Rendezvousing with Roadblock and several members of the G.I. Joe Special Missions unit, Spirit brought the horses they'd be riding on their journey to retrieve the downed M.A.S.S. Device satellite. After they found the satellite's crater, Spirit broke off from the rest of the team and followed the trail that was leading off from there, eventually reaching the end of the trail and finding tire tracks that led towards what seemed to be an encampment out in the distance. Him being away from the others meant he wasn't around when the Dreadnoks, the inhabitants of that encampment, arrived and captured everyone else aside from Roadblock. Operation: Deadfall, Part 1 Returning around the same time as Roadblock, Spirit explained about what he saw while he was away and noticed that the rest of the team seemed to have been dragged that way, the fact that the captors of their allies didn't seem care if they were followed concerning him. Traveling all through the night, Spirit and Roadblock eventually came to the rock formation that overlooked the Dreadnoks' camp and climbed it to get the drop on them.
Sneaking inside the camp while Roadblock kept watch from above and annoyed him by constantly calling him "chief" over the radio, Spirit eventually came to the cell where their allies were being held. Before he could free them though, Zartan used Heartwrencher's screaming to wake the other Dreadnoks, hoping to pit them against the Joes while he made his escape. Operation: Deadfall, Part 2 Asking Roadblock to lay down suppressing fire, Spirit climbed in the back of a truck driven by Tripwire and had him pursue Zartan while he covered their rear against the pursuing Dreadnoks. After Zartan took out Beachhead and Dial-Tone's motorcycle, Spirit and the others made a stand against the bikers. While things looked grim when everybody ran out of ammo, Roadblock suddenly making his way back to them with his machine gun in tow changed the tides of battle back in their favor. Operation: Deadfall, Part 3
Years later, following G.I. Joe being shut down and then rebuilt as an international peacekeeping force, Spirit was brought back on to the team to put his tracking skills to use on the mission to head underground and take out the gigantic monsters that were attacking the surface. Noticing something was wrong with his old friend Rock 'n Roll, Spirit approached him and warned that he needed to find a way to exorcise whatever his demons were before they consumed him and shared a Predator-style handshake with him. Once underground, Spirit used a tracking device to aid his leading of the team and soon came across what he believed would be a monster but turned out to be a pair of small, adorably fluffy creatures instead. Calling Doc out to come investigate them, Spirit's initial assessment of the trail he was following eventually panned out when the smaller creatures suddenly transformed into the larger monsters! Having gotten knocked away by the Fluffies as they grew, Spirit was awoken by Doc just in time to see Rock 'n Roll transform into a monster as well! G.I. Joe vol. 5 #6 Assuring her he was okay, Spirit asked Doc to go see what she could do for Rock instead of worrying about him. After everything was said and done, Spirit continued scouting ahead and eventually came across the hatchery the monsters were being born from. Though he was certain he could lead the team to the mysterious altar at the center of the hatchery, the team having lost the remote detonator for their explosives meant setting the bombs off would be a suicide mission. G.I. Joe vol. 5 #7 Spirit saw Rock 'n Roll off as he and Skywarp prepared to go off on that suicide mission, assuring Rock that his sacrifice wouldn't be in vain. G.I. Joe vol. 5 #8
Following the conclusion of Shipwreck's mission to fight off V.E.N.O.M. forces in New York City, Spirit enjoyed one of the real beef hamburgers Dial-Tone ordered in Shipwreck's absence. M.A.S.K.: First Strike
Spirit's tracking skills earned him a place on Roadblock's mission to attack Cobra's arctic temple. Though in the lead up to the mission he spent some time reading up on the local environment, that wouldn't do him much good once the team actually arrived and discovered that the ice had melted away to reveal a primordial jungle filled with dinosaurs! Scarlett's Strike Force #1 Since he didn't bring a gun, Spirit wasn't much help fight the velociraptor hordes off, as he refused to harm an endangered species with his survival knife. After a mysterious neanderthal scared off the ankylosaurus who had damaged the team's transportation, Spirit was shocked at how he was able to essentially just scold it like a dog.
While Cover Girl fixed up her jeep, Spirit and Roadblock scouted ahead, looking for any Cobras patrolling the area they might be able to interrogate. While he had Roadblock leave his gatling laser behind for stealth purposes, the loud arguing behind Croc Master and Raptor meant they didn't need to be too sneaky. After the two Cobra animal trainers summoned another pair of dinosaurs to fight the Joes, Spirit dealt with Croc Master's triceratops by destroying the dino's mind control device. Scarlett's Strike Force #2 Picking up on a trail of strange, almost snake-like footprints, Spirit was able to lead the Joes to the Cobra temple, which they promptly began their assault on. Scarlett's Strike Force #3
- Spirit's traditional surname of Iron-Knife has never actually been given in IDW's comics, with his first name being the only name he's ever been referred to as other than his codename.
- Spirit's characterisation from his Hearts & Minds debut went entirely ignored in his following appearances; his sensory issues have never been brought up again, and his resentment of being considered "one with nature" also disappears, with Special Missions #5 even having him refer to himself as being "born on a horse", something that seems odd for a character who prides himself on being descended from "city folk". There are other cases of something like this occurring with characters spotlighted in that series.
- While Spirit's tribe has yet to be named in IDW canon, flashbacks to his ancestors show them living in a pueblo, indicating that he likely shares his classic counterpart's Taos Pueblo heritage. (Aubrey Sitterson's script for G.I. Joe vol. 5 #6 explicitly identifies him as a descendant of Taos Pueblo peoples.)
- Spirit at YoJoe.com
- Spirit at TFWiki.net