Aata Wakawarewa has gone by many names throughout his life. Most roughly translate to descriptions of his great prowess in battle. Aata, the Bold. Aata, the Fierce. Aata, the Mask of Death. Aata’s indomitable fury took on an almost legendary air - his feats so great that many believe him a myth. His proudest name, however, was Ariki, the chief of his tribe.
Aata led his tribe for many years. He bore them through drought and famine. He brought honor to them in times of peace and times of war. He held strong against foreign invaders, protecting his people’s traditions from outsiders. For years, he was honored by his people as the greatest leader the Maori had ever seen.
However, Aata’s great power is what eventually laid him low, bringing his reign to an end. One morning, after the night of a great battle, his Tā Moko, the facial tattoos identifying him as a Maori warrior, faded completely. Though they knew not what Aata could have done to displease their gods so thoroughly, they took it as a sign that their once great chief had been cursed. Aata’s own right hand man, Ruru, stepped up to challenge him in order to cleanse their village of his taint. Outwitting the giant warrior, still stunned from his tribe turning against him, Ruru dealt Aata a killing blow. Ruru dragged his former friend’s body into the desert, slit his throat, and left him to the dogs.
But this was not to be the end for Aata Wakawarewa. He awoke the next morning with his body restored and stronger than before. To the shock and dismay of his tribe, Aata reappeared at the edge of his village where he called out the new chief, Ruru, and easily struck him down in unarmed combat. He looked out to his people expectantly, thinking they would honor his victory and accept him as their chief again. Instead, Aata was given some new names. Aata, the Damned. Aata, the Other. Aata, the Salted Earth. They spat on him, shouting curses and driving him from the village.
Exiled and without a people, he spent decades wandering. No village would take him - new stories had been told. No longer was Aata the great legend, but a demon. And so he fought for survival, facing the perils of the wilderness alone. Each wound mysteriously made him stronger and, after a time, he was more powerful than even the man of the legends told so long ago.
One day, he finally stopped wandering. His tribe no longer existed to take him back, and his redemption would have to come from his own eyes. But as a warrior and a defender of the people and their traditions, all he knew was battle. Aata finally gave himself a name, Haka, after the war chant of the Maori people, and he carries that name into battle as he fights for honor, not just for himself, or for his people, but for the world itself.
- Haka first appears in Arcane Tales in the mid-to-late '60s. This was a newer book at the time; and an anthology title that was typically split between some weird Twilight Zone-esque story and a more traditional one (frequently monster-of-the-week kind of things - Ra showed up in this one a bunch too). This places it in the same general category of book as Tome of the Bizarre, but they were distinct.
- The writers were excited to use him as he was a good vehicle for big fights but also a kind of "walking the earth" nomad stories (blowing into a town, getting some static from the locals due to his appearance - a giant of a man from a foreign culture/ethnicity who's still dressing like he has for hundreds of years - but then solving whatever problem they were having). Even through his strangeness, his humanity and compassion are his greatest assets. They really milk the "noble savage" trope in these early days, but he gets a lot of actual character development over the years.
- He's around for a while before readers are told his backstory (still in Arcane Tales*) - he was Aata Wakawarewa, the chief of a tribe of Maori in New Zealand. He became something of a legend among many tribes on the islands as kind of the Maori ideal. Until, as described in his bio, one day he woke up with his Tā Moko missing. His tribe saw this as meaning that he'd angered the gods and they turned against him. His right hand man, Ruru, challenged and defeated him in his shocked state, dragging him into the desert and slitting his throat. The next morning he returned, not dead as he should have been, to challenge Ruru in return (whom he soundly defeats this time with some newfound strength, although he doesn't kill him). His people don't accept him as their chief again, however, seeing him as some kind of monster and driving him off (he allows himself to be driven off rather than fight them).
- This starts his "walking the earth" stage of his life. He takes on the name of "Haka" instead - naming himself for the ritualized war cry/dance of the Maori people. He fights all sorts of things, seemingly cannot die, and seeks to protect people in general since he can't protect his own people in particular.
- This kind of monster-of-the-week (-month?) stories are a runaway hit for him and it's only around a year before he gets picked to take a spot in the Freedom Four (now Five) team-up book. It wasn't a great fit (given the other problems with the book), but it still ran for a few years [this contradicts the time-frame specified in the Freedom Five episode for how long the first iteration ran, but it's not terribly important]. The readers liked the nomadic nature of his adventures and having him stationed in Megalopolis long-term didn't really work. After the FF book ends he goes back to his previous kind of adventures in the pages of Arcane Tales again (a title that continues publication right up through OblivAeon).
- He's a fan favorite, but the big stories were rarely about him. He shows up for occasional cross-overs, which are generally well-received, and he will certainly show up for the big stories, but he's always kind of the guy the writers know that they can bring in when the chips are down. Savvy readers would come into a crossover story on the lookout for how Haka was going to be involved. For example, during the Omnitron fight there's one city that's pretty much just overrun by drones. Haka goes in and basically solos that whole situation ("Rampage") while the rest of the heroes are taking care of Omnitron itself (even in such a story where the action on the page is just him smashing all the things, they'd still use it as an opportunity for him to have introspective character stuff about heroism going on - he genuinely enjoys combat, but he likes it more if it has a purpose). Similarly in the Voss fight he's fighting a lot of gene-bound minions - he's not the main character of these events, but the heroes would be in trouble without his presence.
- He fights the Hippo a lot, but it's never a really dangerous fight for him - the Hippo is just kind of "that guy who fights Haka" occasionally. Ambuscade has a few stories where he's trying to kill him as the "ultimate prey", but more on that stuff next week.
Variant: Originally revealed during Shattered Timelines Kickstarter as the $125k stretch reward.
In a future well over a thousand years from now, the world is covered in monsters and vile beasts of myth and legend. However, even the monsters know not to disturb the dwelling of the large human who has outlived all the others. He keeps to himself, mostly reading and meditating, remembering fallen friends and better times. All times, really - Aata Wakarewarewa has taken up the mantle of guardian of all history, and he keeps it safe, in his home, in his head, and in his heart.
Every so often, a monster will get hungry enough to attempt to storm the ancient warden's abode, but even when this attracts dozens of other monsters, the outcome is always the same. The Hakas of old ring out strong and the giant man crushes those who threaten the stories of his friends throughout time.
Another being has entered this time, however. Another human. The monsters made quite the ruckus attempting to get to him. Aata fears for this new-comer, but also worries that leaving his home for long will result in the loss of the stories he holds dearest. Still, with the opening of these temporal rifts, there might be a chance for Aata to once again don the mantle of Haka and create better stories for some of his less fortunate allies.
Variant: Originally revealed from Wrath of the Cosmos preorder event for 100 copies preordered.'
A stalwart companion and a fierce defender, Haka was quick to take up the mantle of Prime Warden. He saw the team as a chance to help protect even more people. Haka has seen more than his fair share of years and experienced more loss than most could comprehend, but among his powerful allies, he finds a sort of peace in fighting to save the world.
Haka lived a life of joy. He found the joy in the simplest things in life, and took great pleasure in protecting those around him. He taught the young and cared for the old. He was Guardian and Mentor of humankind - all people were his people, and he fought for the good of all.
Akash'Bhuta threatened not just his friends, but the existence of humans on Earth, so Haka naturally joined the fight against her most eagerly. A great challenge was always appreciated, and Haka could really let loose against mountainous form of the destructive Nature Spirit.
Having a team of allies helped Haka face greater challenges, and the Prime Wardens could do more to protect their world - and reality - than Haka could on his own. He found joy in his allies and friends, but more than just joy, he found pride. Both pride in his comrades, and in himself.
- Then he joins the Prime Wardens following FFA #10 where, in Akash'Bhuta, he's got a villain he can really let loose on. He's sort of got a "tanky" role on the team, doing a lot of interposing himself between a teammate and a threat to take a hit for them (well, that's kind of his whole shtick in general, for teammates or bystanders, really).
Variant: Originally revealed during the OblivAeon Kickstarter as the $450k stretch reward.
- In Vengeance, he's a known issue for the villains (and writers!) that they need to keep him out of the general fight if the plan is going to have a chance. So, they enlist the Hippo, Haka's most... persistent foes, to just keep him busy. Baron Blade directs him to the school in Colorado that Haka substitute teaches at currently. The plan isn't to so much fight him to win, but to set up a kind of hostage situation where if Haka just comes in punching the kids will get hurt. If the Hippo can stick to the script, he should have the upper hand and be able to play the defensive game until the Vengeance plot succeeds, at which point Blade can send in the cavalry to get him out of there, thus "defeating" Haka. Plus, Blade will pay him a bunch of money. This leads to an interesting issue where Haka can't punch the problem since Hippo's got a school bus full of kids that he's carrying around and Haka has to outsmart/goad him into a mistake (which basically comes down to him taunting the Hippo to eventually put down the bus and fight him - Hippo's not too bright, so this isn't a huge hurdle to clear). One punch later, Blade's plan is ruined - Hippo gets thrown in jail real quick and Haka books it over to the main Vengeance fights that Hippo had spilled the beans on during their verbal sparring. This probably results in Haka learning about/getting to the main fight earlier than he may have if Hippo hadn't been involved at all - he fights his way through waves of Proletariats and eventually takes down Fright Train (one of the major threats at this stage - Baron Blade being stuck in the Realm of Discord with Legacy by this time).
- Between Vengeance and OblivAeon he's still around, the new Prime Wardens book starts up, he's in the Bloodsworn Colosseum for a while (more in the Kaargra Warfang episode - they teased a bit involving Tachyon and Tempest before, but most of the stuff that happens there really should be in her story), he's involved in the initial Progeny fight alongside the other Prime Wardens, but that's a weird fight for him since punching it doesn't seem to actually help. Being "not strong enough" for a challenge is seriously weird for him - and for the team, frankly. Argent Adept has the whole Void power mastery thing, Haka and Fanatic are both bruiser powerhouses, Tempest can control the weather and is a brilliant tactician, and Captain Cosmic who (while probably the weakest member) still harnesses cosmic energy to create things with his mind. This is not a "weak" team, but they can't stop Progeny - it's not necessarily the case that he defeats them either, they're just incapable of stopping it.
- In OblivAeon, the writers don't play the game of keeping him held back somehow, instead choosing to show how great the stakes are by just throwing him into the heart of things right away. While the other Prime Wardens are fighting the Scion, Aeon Master, he's just tearing through waves and waves of Aeon Men, but they're functionally infinite numbers of them (compared with Omnitron drones, Proletariat clones, or Voss's gene-bound minions). It becomes clear that this strategy isn't going to work and that he's kind of being wasted in this role. This is when we start seeing heroes undertake "side quests" to try to get new resources to help in the fight (we've gotten several of these stories already). Haka helps gather up a lot of scrap for Unity to use for a big project. Then, when Nightmist starts opening all of the portals to other dimensions, he falls back on his "walking the earth" roots and ventures out into these other realities to recruit heroes to come help.
This information is from the Miststorm Universe, one of two branching timelines. Products in this timeline are: Sentinel Tactics (and expansions). Prime War (and expansions)
- There is no Haka in this world (because of the whole "only 2 Hakas" thing), but the one that we know and love from everything up to this point does show up here in Prime War. Remember when "our" Haka went through some portals in OblivAeon to recruit help? Looks like he gets stuck in the darkest timeline when the portals close.
This information is from the Sentinel Comics Universe, one of two branching universes. Products in this timeline are: Sentinel Comics RPG.
- Arataki Wakawarewa is a Mission reward in OblivAeon to bring her into the fight. After that 'our' Haka is locked in the Tactics-verse. Arataki is locked out of her reality and is in the RPG as the resident Haka now. In the Starter Kit adventures the players encounter her, and might have to fight her to help Tempest - in her reality he was a villain. You might convince her to join the new Prime Wardens. She is the "other" Haka who doesn't get erased and is linked to "our" Haka.