Wednesday, May 8, 2013
RAWHIDE WEDNESDAY 41
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.
Action!! Danger!! Gun-slingin’ galore!! There’s more blazing, two-
fisted action than you can shake a Colt at when the Rawhide Kid
tangles with the man called the Peacemaker!
The Rawhide Kid #56 [February 1967] has a cool Larry Lieber cover
inked by Sol Brodsky. Surrounding a dramatic figure of the Kid, we
have three vignettes of the Peacemaker blasting away at opponents
and a head shot of this issue’s villain. We also get the hardest
sell of almost any Rawhide Kid cover.
This man is Bret Adams! An unforgettable face–-an unforgettable
character–-an unforgettable story...”Fall of a Hero!”
I’m not sure if the hard sell is due to enthusiasm for the story or
some doubt about its commercial value, but, from where I sit, the
17-page “Fall of a Hero!” is one of Lieber’s finest Rawhide tales.
It’s a densely-plotted story that nonetheless has page upon page of
fisticuffs and gunplay. Lieber is the writer and penciler with
inks by Vince Colletta.
The story opens in the town of Gila Gap with a barroom bully doing
what barroom bullies do. However, when the tavern patrons send for
Bret Adams, the bully turns tail and runs.
The Rawhide Kid makes his first appearance on page three, working
on a ranch and not carrying a gun. One of the ranch hands attempts
to bully him and the Kid punches him out. When the bully pulls a
gun on the Kid, another ranch hand tosses Rawhide a gun and, well,
you know how that will end.
Harrison, the ranch owner, asks to see the Kid, who he knows only
as Johnny Clay, in his home. Harrison doesn’t know anything about
Johnny, but the fight shows him that the young man is more than an
Harrison tells Johnny how Bred Adams came to town and drove off the
entire Drago Gang single-handed. The rancher thinks it was a set-
up to make Adams look good. He has a personal stake in this. His
daughter Laura has fallen in love with Adams and is fixing to get
married to him. Harrison wants Johnny to expose Adams as a fraud,
but the Kid is looking to avoid gunfights, not start them.
Laura overhears the conversation. Her and her father argue. The
Kid takes his leave. The rancher tells Laura that, if she marries
Adams, he’ll cut her off without a penny. Harrison knows it’s the
ranch, the richest in the state, that Adams really wants. When the
angry girl repeats the conversation to Adams, the gunslinger tells
her heart is all he wants.
That evening, Adams reveals his true nature as he sneaks up to the
Harrison house with the intent of gunning down Laura’s dad before
the rancher can change his will. Out for a stroll, the Rawhide Kid
spots Adams. He manages to tackle Adams and spoil his aim enough
to turn a lethal shot into a wounding one.
Adams and Johnny duke it out, but, when the noise brings Laura and
the ranch hands onto the scene, Adams claims it was the Rawhide Kid
who shot Harrison. Johnny makes a run for it and soon outdistances
Adams knows he’ll never be safe as long as the Rawhide Kid lives.
Adams meets with the Drago Gang - the comatose Harrison was spot on
about the gunslinger being in cahoots with the outlaws - and hires
them to ambush the Kid when he returns to town. Adams has clearly
figured out that the Kid won’t let the frame-up stand.
Rawhide heads back to town to clear his name. He’s winged by one
of the Drago Gang and still takes them down with just one hand and
a whole lot of moxie. He marches them back to Gila Gap to expose
the Peacemaker for a fraud and attempted murderer.
The Kid challenges Adams to a duel. He doesn’t kill Adams, but he
humiliates him and forces the man to admit to shooting Harrison to
keep him from changing his will. Laura realizes she was played for
a fool by Adams.
Adams leaves town. Surprisingly, the Kid tells the townspeople to
let him go. He explains:
Bret Adams had made himself far more of a helpless prisoner than
you could ever make him...the man who sacrificed his honor to win
a rep now has one! Not the one he wanted, but one that he’ll never
be able to shake...for no matter how long he rides–-how far he
travels–-the Peacemaker will forever beat the brand of coward and
Okay, it’s a pretty speech, but I still would have thrown Adams in
a cell for a decade or so. That’s just how I roll.
Laura tells Johnny he will always have a job with the ranch if he
wants it. He declines. It’s too risky for a man with a price on
his head to stay where he’s known. As he rides out of town, Johnny
talks to his horse:
I hated to leave those folks, Nightwind! But there are other towns,
other territories...and, sooner or later, we’re bound to find the
one that has the peace and quiet I’m searching for!
Next in this issue is the “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page and it’s
a mite light on actual news. Marvel thanks Stars and Stripes, “the
famous serviceman’s newspaper,” for its favorable article on Marvel
Comics. Fans are asked to let their dealers - not what you think -
to make sure they stock and display Marvel comic books. Fans are
asked not to send money to the Marvel offices for Marvel stuff not
offered by Marvel itself.
There’s a long-winded explanation of why some competitor characters
were featured in a TV cartoon advertisement that ran in the Marvel
mags a few months back. The quick answer: someone paid for the ad.
There’s a nice item about the Comics Fan Convention that was held
in midtown Manhattan the previous July, a request for comments on
the Marvel Super-Heroes cartoons now airing and the usual list of
26 more Merry Marvel Marching Society members. Also, as usual, I
didn’t recognize any of the names.
There are no big events in this month’s “Mighty Marvel Checklist.”
But the name-dropping is impressive: Dr. Doom, the Silver Surfer,
the Inhumans, the Lizard, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Ka-Zar,
the Banshee, the Mandarin and more. No wonder I couldn’t wait for
the new Marvels to show up at my local drugstore!
The five-page “Reno’s Revenge” is the issue’s non-series story and
it’s not a reprint. Written by Denny O’Neil with art by Al Ulmer,
it’s the tale of gunfighter Reno Branden. As a boy, Reno watched
his father gunned down by the Laramie Kid. Branden spent his youth
learning how to use his guns with both hands and with amazing speed
and accuracy. He’s been tracking the Kid ever since.
The twist? When Branden finally finds the Laramie Kid at a hotel,
he’s shocked by what the once-famous gunslinger has become:
He’s old...almost blind! He’s already paid for his crimes! Time
caught up to him before I did!
Reno turns and walks away from the old man. He drops his gunbelt
in the street and doesn’t look back. He mounts his horse and rides
away from his own misspent life as a gunfighter.
O’Neil delivered a good story here, perfectly in keeping with the
similar stories written by editor Stan Lee and others. I thought
Ulmer did a good job as well and wondered why I hadn’t seen more of
his work beyond this one story. As it turns out...
Ulmer wrote and drew for a number of comics publishers in the 1940s
through the early 1950s. His clients included Marvel, ACG, Avon,
DC, Dell, Eastern Color, Fawcett, Fox, Hillman and Holyoke. From
what I can tell, from comics, Ulmer turned his talents to working
on commercial advertising films. I don’t know what brought him to
Marvel for this story, but it seems to be his only comics credit of
the 1960s. If anyone has additional information on him, feel free
to share with me and my bloggy thing readers.
The tale was followed by a half-page ad for the Marvel Super-Heroes
cartoon show that includes over 40 stations carrying the program.
Alas, my native Cleveland wasn’t one of them, but the show did air
in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Japan, Argentina, Uruguay and Toronto,
Canada. The bottom half of the page offered ten different Marvel t-
shirts at $1.60 each, Thing and Hulk sweatshirts at $3.15 and the
ever-present stationary kit at a buck or two for $1.60. Handling
and poster were an additional quarter per item.
The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page ran four letters
from readers. Bobby Closs of Ontario pointed our a coloring goof.
Terry Lee Pennington from Verdon in France wanted to see an annual
teaming Rawhide with Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid. Butch Ragwell
of Ackerman, Mississippi wanted to see a new outfit for the Rawhide
Kid. James E. Lee of Panama City, Florida wanted the Kid to have a
girlfriend, become a lawman and get his own TV show. I’ve always
been intrigued by the notion of the Rawhide Kid becoming a sheriff
and settling down. Unfortunately, even if What If was still being
published, I probably couldn't sell Marvel on a story like that.
I’m taking a few days off to put the finishing touches on my first
comic books garage sale of the summer, but I’ll be back as soon as
possible with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella