Wednesday, June 13, 2012
RAWHIDE WEDNESDAYS 14
The Rawhide Kid is one of my favorite comics characters. Inspired
by Essential Rawhide Kid Vol. 1, which reprints Rawhide Kid #17-35,
I write about the Kid every Wednesday. There are spoilers ahead.
You have been warned.
If you were going to buy one issue from the period when every issue
of The Rawhide Kid had three Rawhide Kid stories and one non-series
story, I’d recommend The Rawhide Kid #30 [October 1962]. Though
the Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers cover isn’t an action cover, it’s loaded
with characters and details as the Kid robs a bank by command of
Spade Desmond. The Grand Comics Database doesn’t list a scripting
credit for the cover, but the copy was almost certainly written by
editor Stan Lee.
Spade Desmond is the villain of “When the Kid Goes Wild!” (7 pages)
and almost certainly an early Marvel mutant. During this tale, he
hypnotizes a bartender, the owner of the bar, and the Rawhide Kid
himself and does so in seconds. The story is written by Lee with
art by Kirby and Ayers. Plotting was most likely a joint venture
between Lee and Kirby, but, of course, there’s no way to know for
sure which of them came up with which ideas and scenes.
I love the splash page of this story in which the Kid is chilling
against a railing watching the stage come into town. He likes to
watch the passengers. Clearly, this is a territory where the Kid
is not a wanted outlaw.
Following Desmond into the bar, Rawhide sees the man “convince” the
bartender to give him a free drink and make the bar owner behave
like a monkey. The bar patrons take offense and turn on Desmond.
The Kid defends the unarmed stranger by outshooting every cowboy in
the place. In one of those wild Marvel moments, Rawhide stands on
his head and shoots the boot heels off one fleeing gunman.
Desmond tries to hire the Rawhide Kid. When the Kid refuses, the
stranger hypnotizes him. After using the fear of the Rawhide Kid
to get a free meal, Desmond has him rob a bank. However, when he
commands the Kid to shoot the town sheriff, the hypnotic spell is
broken. The sheriff explains: “But he made one mistake! Even under
hypnosis, you can’t make a man do something that he would never do
normally! And you’re not a killer, Kid!”
Gaffe of the story: In one scene, Desmond refers to the Rawhide Kid
as “the Two-Gun-Kid.” Man, I hope someone caught that when Marvel
reprinted the story in issue #134 [July 1976].
The sheriff in the first story trusts the Rawhide Kid, but, alas,
that’s not the case with the ranch owner and said man’s family at the
start of “Showdown with the Crow Magnum Gang” (6 pages). He thinks
the Kid is a member of the gang that just trashed his place and
rustled his cattle.
The Kid goes after Crow and his goons, blocks their passage through
a canyon, takes them down one by one like a Wild West ninja, then
outpunches and outshoots the rest of them. The little guy puts in
a full day’s work in those six short pages.
The Crow Magnum gang returns the cattle to the rancher and patch up
the ranch before turning themselves into the law. Rawhide put the
fear in them but good. In cruel irony, the rancher says everything
worked out except for one thing: “I’m sorry that the little gunman
in black got away! He was the meanest-lookin’ one of all!”
The National Rifle Association should love this issue’s non-series
story, “This is...a Gun!” (5 pages) by Lee and Don Heck. The tale
commences with an exquisite splash panel of a .45 caliber revolver
“You are looking at a .45 caliber revolver—-one of the most
important man-made devices in the history of the Old West! Tooled
to precise tolerances by a master craftsman, this gun has only one
function...to fire a bullet with speed and unerring accuracy! How
it fulfilled its function is the subject of the dramatic story you
are about to read...”
We see the gunsmith making the gun and taking pride in his work.
We see a shady owlhoot buy the gun and use if fro crime until he’s
outgunned by a sheriff and the lawman’s rifle. A cowboy finds the
gun in the road and claims it for his own, but he uses the gun in
lawful ways and it serves him well his entire life.
“For a gun, like any other device made by man, is nothing without
the human who uses it! And it can be used in many ways—-for good or
evil! Let us pray that all of man’s creations will always be used
only for good—-for after all, the choice is always up to—-us!”
“Riot in Railtown!” (5 pages) is the issue’s finale. Lee, Kirby
and Ayers work their usual magic as the Rawhide Kid comes to town
looking for just a little rest. He tries to eat at the local bar,
apparently not realizing that when you go into an Old West saloon
in a story drawn by Kirby, peace and quiet just ain’t gonna be on
The barroom brawl starts on page two and the bodies keep flying for
the next two pages as well. It’s so fierce that the Ladies Cookie
Society demands Sheriff Iron John McGraw put an immediate kibosh on
the fight. The brawlers blame Rawhide for starting the fight, but
Iron John knows better.
RAWHIDE: Sheriff, don’t say it! I didn’t start it—-I ain’t lookin’
for trouble–-all I wanna do is rest for a spell!
IRON JOHN: Look, Kid—-I know that! But I ain’t the one you gotta
worry about! There’s a delegation of the Ladies Cookie Society up
in arms outside!
RAWHIDE: Yuh don’t haveta say any more, Mister! I can stand up to
‘most anything, but not a passel of angry housewives!
IRON JOHN: Can’t say’s I blame yuh, Kid!
The ladies are glad to see the Rawhide Kid ride off on his horse,
erroneously called “Cyclone” in this story.
IRON JOHN: Congratulations, ladies! You helped to drive a real
trouble-maker out of town! My hat’s off to you!
LADIES: Tee hee–-it was nothing, Sheriff! Now how would you like a
nice, fresh cookie?
A few miles away, the Kid sets up camp: Well, I reckon the only way
for me to get any rest is to stay as far from other people as
possible! Funny, all I want is to be left alone, and everyone
things I’m a real rip-snorter!
Hmm...I think the Rawhide Kid might have something in common with
a certain green-skinned goliath also appearing in the Marvel comic
books of the 1960s.
Face front, true believers, I’ll return next Wednesday with another
Rawhide Kid Wednesday and I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff.
As a wise man once said...
© 2012 Tony Isabella