Friday, March 22, 2013
HIS GUNS MAKE OUTLAWS TREMBLE
by the comic books that appeared on newsstands in my birth month of
December 1951. Those 60-year-old comic books are a mystery to me.
I don’t own any of them and precious few of them have been reprinted. I
love looking them up on the Grand Comics Database and learning what
I can about them. Sometimes, they lead me to additional surprises.
That’s the case today.
The Texas Kid #8 [Atlas; March 1952] was one of a bunch of westerns
published by Martin Goodman because westerns were hot at the time.
It ran ten issues from January 1951 to July 1952. The masked hero
looked familiar to me...and then I did a bit more digging. We’ll
get to that in a moment.
Joe Maneely drew the cover of this issue. The GCD doesn’t have any
credits for the interior stories, but it does list titles for those
Texas Kid: “Payment In Lead” (7 pages)
“Sheriff's Bluff” (2-page text story)
Texas Kid: “Bloody Saturday” (7 pages)
“Bait For Boot Hill” (4-page non-series story)
Texas Kid: “Hoofs of Death” (5 pages)
A quick visit to the International Catalogue of Superheroes, which
utilized information provided by the amazing Jess Nevins, told me
more about the character:
Zane Temple had been a Texas Ranger who had retired following the
Mexican-American War of 1846 to become a rancher near the border
town of Caliber City. He and his family lived a peaceful life until
the day outlaw Link Cado and his gang came to town, seeking revenge
on the Ranger who years before had sent them to jail. They attacked
the Ranch and slew Lucy Temple, Zane's wife; Zane retaliated,
killing many of them before Link shot him in the back. Lance tried
to fight too, but Link shot the gun out his hands and was about to
finish him off when two of Zane's friends, Emilio (a Mexican) and
Red Hawk (an Apache) arrived and scared him off.
Though Red Hawk managed to save Zane's life, the former Ranger was
permanently blinded. Emilio and Red Hawk vowed to look after both
of the Temple men, and help them work the ranch. As Lance grew,
they tutored him in ranching, hunting and fighting, so that he
became an expert in each. Reaching adulthood, Lance sought to hunt
down Link, but his father made him swear to forebear violence and
seek peace instead. Rather than disappoint his father, Lance
decided to create a new identity so he could fight anonymously. He
was supported by his two other friends in this venture, with Emilio
giving him a costume he had worn as a young caballero, and Red Hawk
gifting him a horse and Winchester rifle. Lance became the Texas
Kid, and rode the range in the service of justice.
“What in the Sam Hill?,” I exclaimed. A hero named Lance Temple?
Hiding his other identity from his father? Where had I seen that
The Outlaw Kid. Drawn by Doug Wildey. Reprinted by Marvel Comics
in the late 1960s and early 1970s and, reportedly, one of the most
successful of their western reprints. Here’s what Wikipedia says
The Outlaw Kid is a fictional Western hero in comic books published
by Marvel Comics. The character originally appeared in the
company's 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics. A lesser-known character
than the company's Kid Colt, Rawhide Kid or Two-Gun Kid, he also
starred in a reprint series in the 1970s and a short-lived revival.
The Outlaw Kid was Lance Temple, an Old West lawyer and Civil War
veteran living with his blinded father on a ranch. Though promising
his father he would never take up a gun, he'd nonetheless felt the
need to right wrongs expediently on the near-lawless frontier, and
created a masked identity in order to keep his gunslinging secret.
The Outlaw Kid first appeared in 1954. The Marvel Database claims
this Lance Temple is not the same as the Texas Kid, but the origin
is the same as the earlier character. Simple logic tells you that
Atlas simply relaunched the earlier character with a new name and
pretty much the same look.
But, wait, there’s more...
There was a Texas Kid that predated the 1951 version. That Texas
Kid was an unmasked, unnamed hero who billed himself as the “Robin
Hood of the Plains” and protected ranchers from criminals. He was
created by Ben Thompson and only appeared in Daring Mystery Comics
#1 [January 1940]. One and done.
But, wait, there’s even more...
I couldn't shake the memory of another Atlas comic book that I owned
once upon a time. It took some stretching of my brain cells until
I remembered it and another visit to the GCD to confirm the memory.
That Atlas comic book that I once owned was The Kid from Texas #2
[August 1957], the second and final issue of the title.
The cover was by Fred Kida, though I did not know this back then.
Inside the issue were four short “Kid From Texas” stories drawn by
Joe Sinnott, who I did know from his work for Treasure Chest, some
Atlas era mystery comics, some early Thor stories, and, of course,
his magnificent inking of Jack Kirby’s pencils on Fantastic Four.
There was also a non-series comics story and the usual text story.
I remember the Sinnott art, but nothing else about this comic book.
Not even after I read this brief summation at the International
Catalogue of Superheroes:
After his Texas Ranger father was killed at the Alamo, young Dan
Hawk was raised by Cactus, his deceased parent's best friend.
Cactus taught the boy to ride, shoot and survive in the wild, and
as soon as Dan felt he was old enough, he tried to follow in his
father's footsteps and join the Rangers. Rejected because they felt
he was still only a boy, Dan nonetheless proved his worth when he
intervened in a battle between a group of Rangers and renegade
Indians, rescuing the lawmen from certain death. In gratitude for
his bravery, Dan was made an honorary Ranger, but he declined to
join full time, deciding instead to ride the land and see more of
America, lending aid where it might be needed.
Still drawing a blank. There were a few more Kid From Texas tales
that showed up in other Atlas westerns of the era. I figure they
were originally done for The Kid From Texas and put into inventory
when that title was cancelled.
I don’t know if anyone reading my bloggy thing is as fascinated as
I am by this stuff. But it excites me to learn that the Texas Kid
begat the Outlaw Kid...and that there were two other western heroes
who essentially had the same name.
And one more thing...
The Kid From Texas was a 1950 movie about Billy the Kid. The title
hero was played by Audie Murphy in his first western. Moreover, my
uncle Tom Rocco served with Murphy in World War II and, until the
actor’s death, my uncle would receive Christmas cards from Murphy.
Circles within circles.
Keep reading this bloggy thing of mine for more vintage comic-book
covers from my birth month. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella