Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy more issues of the title.  Because that’s what
 the Kid would have done.

The “Marvel Universe” was becoming more unified in the mid-1960s.
Its heroes and titles were connecting with one another, forming the
links that would forever transform the nature of super-hero comics.
The unification included Marvel’s war and western titles.  Over in
Sgt. Fury, the Howling Commandoes had crossed path with the future
Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four and faced a Nazi villain who
would return to battle the Avengers.

The Rawhide Kid had already teamed with the Two-Gun Kid in Rawhide
#40 [June 1964].  A year later, Rawhide would cross paths with
Marvel’s longest-running western hero.

Kid Colt Outlaw #121 [March 1965] boasted an action-packed cover by
Jack Kirby and inker Chic Stone.  Colt and the Rawhide Kid, each of
them wanted by the law for the mistakes made in their youths, draw
down on one another.  In the background, ten bystanders scurry for
cover from the impending gunplay.  But not all the action is in the
drawing as editor Stan Lee’s cover copy practically explodes from
every available corner of the cover.

An extended blurb proclaims that “deadly guns roar” and points to
a title burst: “The Two Kids Meet!”  Another extended blurb points
to and introduces the Rawhide Kid.  At the bottom of the cover, the
villainous Iron Mask gets his own jagged wood fanfare.  He’s back
and more dangerous than ever! Comic book covers didn’t get more
exciting than this one.

The 17-page “Iron Mask Strikes Again!” was written by Lee and drawn
by Jack Keller, an underrated artist whose clean lines and panel-
by-panel storytelling revealed him to be a master at the craft of
comics.  Super-hero artists like Kirby and Steve Ditko were better
at grabbing my youthful attention, but I enjoyed Keller’s somewhat
more realistic approach as well.

There are actually three heroes in this story, the third being “Sam
Hawk the Manhunter.” The relentless Marshal Hawk had been hunting
Kid Colt since 1958, making several appearance prior to this tale.
Hawk wasn’t sure Kid Colt was as bad as people said he was, but he
didn’t feel his job description included being judge and jury over
the outlaws he hunted.  His aim was to capture them so they could
be brought to trial.

Marshal Hawk is having a good day for the first five pages of this
adventure. Leading “the biggest posse in history” and pulling off
some clever tricks, Hawk captures Colt and takes him into custody.
Then the Rawhide Kid comes riding into to town to warn Hawk that
Iron Mask and “a whole passel of hard-ridin’ gunnies” have taken
over a nearby town.  When one of Hawk’s men recognizes Rawhide, the
Kid is also arrested and thrown in a jail cell. 

Hawk thinks there may be something to Rawhide’s warning and rides
to check out the situation.  Fearing a trap and wanting to protect
his men, the marshal rides alone.

The two kids meet behind bars (in separate cells) and take a quick
dislike to one another.  When Kid Colt’s horse Steel helps bust his
master out of jail, Colt leaves Rawhide behind:

“I don’t help other owlhoots bust of jail.”

Despite years on the run, Kid Colt doesn’t consider Rawhide might
have received bad press similar to his own.  Colt really needs to
stop watching Fox News.

Rawhide isn’t about to let Hawk face Iron Mask and his gang alone.
He also busts out of jail and soon catches up with the escaping Kid
Colt.  The kids mix it up a little and, from where I sit, Rawhide
wins this round. A mildly humbled Colt listens to the Rawhide Kid
and is convinced that Iron Mask really is back.  The two young men
ride off to save Sam Hawk, the man who tossed both of them in jail.

Hawk is ridiculously outgunned, though he gives a good accounting
of himself in battle with Iron Mask’s thugs.  However, Iron Mask’s
armor protects him from the marshal’s gunfire.  Hawk soon becomes
a prisoner himself.

When Hawk refuses tell Iron Mask how many men are in his posse, the
armored asshat gets ready to put a bullet in the marshal’s brain.
This would sure be a good time for Kid Colt and the Rawhide Kid to
come riding to the rescue.  Which, of course, they do.

It’s three heroes against Iron Mask and his owlhoots and it’s the
second-last page of this story.  Time for some quick thinking from
the Rawhide Kid and the guys writing and drawing this tale.  While
Kid Colt and Sam Hawk hold off the others, the Rawhide Kid manages
to lead Iron Mask into a dead-end courtyard.  Thinking Rawhide is
trapped, Iron Mask doesn’t pay attention to boards scattered across
his path.  When the villain steps on them, he plunges through them
and into a water-filled hole.  Rather than drown, he surrenders his
gun so he and his heavy armor can be pulled from this mystery trap
that just happened to be in that most convenient spot.

Marshal Hawk’s posse has come looking for him, but he and the kids
have everything wrapped up neatly.  If Hawk is concerned about Kid
Colt and the Rawhide Kid escaping, he doesn’t show it.  Instead, he
reflects on the irony of these events:

“Funny, isn’t it? The two owlhoots who the governor wanted to catch
turn out to be the two rannies who save my life and bring Iron Mask
to justice!” 

As near as I can figure, this story is Sam Hawk’s last appearance
in Kid Colt Outlaw or any of the other Marvel westerns.  I like to
think he retired rather than continue hunting the good men who had
saved his life.

Kid Colt and the Rawhide Kid ride alone, but they part as friends.
As always, Stan gets the last word:

Thus fate had briefly joined two of the west’s most famous fighting
crusaders! But are they destined ever to meet again? This much, we
can tell you...if ever they do, you’ll read it here in the glorious
pages of a Marvel western adventure!

A full-page ad for Two-Gun Kid #74 [March 1965] follows this story.
The great Jack Kirby cover shows a wounded Kid at the mercy of one
Dakota Thompson - “the roughest, toughest gunman of all” - and the
badman’s son while another cover blurb promises “another wonderful
western epic from mighty Marvel.”

“Hogan’s Hiding Place” (5 pages) is the issue’s non-series story.
It’s written and drawn by Larry Lieber, though the opening caption
sure sounds like something brother Stan Lee would write.  In part,
it reads:

Observe this peaceful nocturnal scene! Pretty dull way to start a
story, eh? Well, don’t let appearance fool you! We know full well
our readers did hair-raising excitement the most and we always aim
to please!

This tale builds to another of those “brushes with history” shock
endings that Stan Lee seemed to love.  Wearing a mask, lowlife Bart
Hogan robs a store of its cash box.  His escape is interrupted by
one of the townsmen.  In the ensuing scuffle, Hogan is unmasked and
ends up shooting the man.  Before long, the “ruthless robber” is on
the run with a posse close behind him. 

Hogan eludes the posse long enough to bury the cash box and make a
map of its location.  Then, to hide in plain sight, he heads over
to the territorial army post and enlists.  He figures on deserting
once the coast in clear. 

When word hits the base of Sioux warriors violating a treaty - and
we all know how dear white men held those treaties - Hogan and his
fellow soldiers are sent to chase the “redskins” back to their own
territory.  When the soldier don’t return, the entire garrison goes
out to look for them.

The search takes the garrison to the river called “the Little Big
Horn” and a shocking sight. Hogan’s unit had ridden into an ambush
and been wiped out to a man.

“Not a soldier survived! But they died valiantly in a heroic battle
against overwhelming odds! And none fought more bravely than the
General himself! I’m sure that long after we’re gone, history will
remember this fateful battle as...Custer’s Last Stand!

The closing panel shows Hogan’s still hand clutching the map he’d
drawn of his stolen treasure’s hiding place.  He had paid for his
crime “and at the same moment ironically become a part of American
You can almost hear Rod Serling’s voice there.

A full-page ad for “The Merry Marvel Marching Society” comes next,
followed by the “Kid Colt’s Roundup” letters page.  There are four
letters, one each from readers in Iowa and Illinois and two from
readers in Texas.  Iowa’s Mark Walter tells of the week’s Marvels
selling out in three minutes.  Illinois’ Bill Loudin expresses his
strong preference for Keller inking his own pencils while Margaret
Suesse of Texas especially likes how Keller draws horses.  Finally,
Bruce Westbrook of Waco, Texas wants the MMMS to devote
some of its energies to Marvel’s western titles.

Tucked inside the letters page is “The Mighty Marvel Checklist” and
its plugs for Fantastic Four #36 (The Frightful Four), Spider-Man
#22 (the deadly Clown and his Masters of Menace), Daredevil #6 (the
Fellowship of Fear) and the latest issues of Avengers, Strange
Tales, Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish
and Sgt. Fury.  At the
end of the letters page is a “Special Announcements Section” which
promotes the western titles before wishing the readers a heartfelt
“Happy trails!”

Cover to cover excitement and the personable editorial style that
always made readers feel like they were part of Marvel.  It’s what
made me a Marvel fan!

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

No comments:

Post a Comment