Wednesday, January 2, 2013
RAWHIDE WEDNESDAYS 28
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 the later issues of the title.
Because that’s what the Kid would have done.
Below the logo of the dramatic Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers cover of The
Rawhide Kid #44 [February 1965], display lettering cautions “Hang
on to your Stetson, pard! You’re about to thrill to...The Masked
Maverick!” The Grand Comics Database notes the Maverick resembles
the Black Rider, a Marvel western hero of the late 1940s and 1950s.
On the cover, the outlaw’s duds are purple. Inside, the outfit is
black and the resemblance is clearer.
Plotted by Stan Lee and written/drawn by Larry Lieber, “The Masked
Maverick” (18 pages) is a well-crafted action/mystery. The story
kicks off with Rawhide being ambushed and framed by the Maverick.
When the villain strikes again while the Kid is sitting in the town
jail, the Kid is released and vows to settle that score.
As the story progresses, we meet possible suspects for the masked
outlaw: mild-mannered Wade Mason and his wild brother Lint. They
aren’t actual suspects when introduced, but when the Kid follows a
trail to the ranch owned by their invalid father, it becomes likely
that the Maverick is a member of the family and, because this isn’t
my or your first time at the rodeo, you already know which one it
will turn out to be.
That said, the Maverick is a most worthy opponent for the Rawhide
Kid. He’s clever and good with a gun. Indeed, during their final
battle, the Maverick is beaten, not by the Kid, but by the ricochet
of a bullet he fires at the Kid. When the mask comes off, we and
the Mason brothers see the face of their dying father...who turned
to crime to support his failing ranch. The end of the story carries
a emotional punch. Larry Lieber isn’t as lyrical as his brother and
editor Stan Lee, but he knows how to bring the drama. I like his
work on the Rawhide Kid as much as I liked the original Lee/Kirby
issues. Which is saying a lot.
Of course, being a writer myself, I couldn’t help but come up with
an alternative ending for the story. Early in the story, we meet
Betty, who is clearly Wade’s girlfriend. She disappears from the
story after that. While it’s unlikely such a story would have been
published in a mainstream comic book in 1965, I’d have made her the
Masked Maverick. Certain her beau’s brother would be more likely to
inherit the ranch, Betty turned to rustling to build a little nest
egg for Wade and herself.
An advertisement for the Merry Marvel Marching Society appears in
the middle of the cover story. This was exciting news for Marvel
readers. For a buck, you got a membership card, button, stickers
and that famous/infamous Marvel Bullpen record. Sadly, my kit went
missing long ago, but I’d love to see Marvel recreate the MMMS kit
for the Marvel maniacs of my generation.
“When the Gunmen Come!” (5 pages) is the issue’s non-series story.
Larry Lieber is credited with script and art while Stan Lee is only
credited with the editing. The GCD gives Lee a plotting credit and
I think they may be correct, if only because the story has a much-
Three nasty gunmen are on the run from a posse. Their horses are
“plump worn out” and they are low on supplies when they spot a farm
in the distance. On the porch of the farmhouse, a nicely-dressed
young man is courting a beautiful young woman. The gunmen look at
the couple and think easy pickings.
The young man tells the gunmen they are making a big mistake, which
they take as a threat. They disarm the young man and knock him to
the ground. One of the trio grabs the arm of the young woman and
demands a smile. Another big mistake.
The woman grabs one of his guns and shoots his other gun out of his
hand. She shoots the guns out of the hands of the other two men.
She shoots their hats off their heads. She shoots their gun belts
off their pants. She shoots the heels off their boots. It’s all
over for the bad guys.
The young man explains what’s just happened:
“I tried to warn you owlhoots! I even tried to chase you off the
farm myself, so you wouldn’t have to tangle with my gal, ‘cause I
knew of her quick temper. But don’t feel too bad! There aren’t
many hombres who would’ve done much better than you did in a fracas
with...Miss Annie Oakley!”
Historically accurate? Probably not. But, like Stan, I get a kick
out of these brushes with history.
This issue introduces “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide,” the comic’s
letters column. The first letter requests a Rawhide Kid/Kid Colt
team-up and the editorial response plus the upcoming Kid Colt #121,
which will feature just that. Two of the letters are from cities
in Ohio: Willoughby and Cleveland. The fifth and final letter asks
for a story where some of the modern-day Marvel super-heroes travel
back in time to meet Rawhide and the other western heroes. Which
would eventually happen during Steve Englehart’s famed run on The
Avengers about a decade later.
The unknown Marvel person responding to the letters - probably Stan
himself - calls for a poll with the catch that the responses should
be no more than 20 words long and in rhyme!
Have Benjamin Grimm meet the Rawhide Kid,
We’d buy more comics if you did.
If the Torch goes back to help Kid Colt,
We Marvel fans will revolt.
Did any readers respond to this challenge? I guess we’ll find out
in future Rawhide Wednesday installments. However, next week, I’ll
be writing about Kid Colt Outlaw #121, that epic first meeting of
the two young gunfighters.
Tomorrow? Why I’ll be back with more stuff.
Thanks for asking.
© 2013 Tony Isabella