Wednesday, June 5, 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.

Hold your breath, ranny...‘cause there’s two-fisted, six-shootin’
excitement ahead, as the Kid meets the most dangerous owlhoot of
his gun-slammin’ career...“WHEN THE SCORPION STRIKES!”

The Rawhide Kid #57 [April 1967] has a cover by Larry Lieber with
inks by John Tartaglione.  Inside the issue, Tartaglione also inks
Lieber’s pencils and he’s a far more suitable match for the artist
and for the western setting of the Rawhide Kid than previous inker
Vince Colletta.

“When the Scorpion Strikes” (17 pages) is reminiscent of the very
early Marvel super-hero stories, some of which were written by my
pal Larry.  The Scorpion - no relation to the Spider-Man villain of
the same day and who had debut years earlier - is an apothecary who
was humiliated by the town stud and said stud’s girlfriend.  Stung
by these events and knowing he would never be a deadshot with guns,
Jim Evans developed bullets that would paralyze an opponent on the
slightest contact.  Donning a green mask and outfit, Evans turned
to crime while maintain his civilian identity.

The story opens with the Scorpion robbing a stage.  Rawhide tries
to stop him, but is winged by one of the paralyzing bullets.  When
the Kid can move again, he gets the lowdown on the robber from the
stagecoach drivers and decides to accompany them to the nearby town
of Dustville.  The story then shifts to a flashback sequence that
shows how Evans came to Dustville, courted a woman, got his pride
handed to him and turned to crime. Put this origin in the 1960s and
it would not have been out of place for a Human Torch, Ant-Man or
even Thor adventure.

Even though he is not wanted “in this neck of the woods,” Rawhide
receives a less-than-cordial welcome from the town sheriff.  Keen
detective that he is, the Kid sets his suspect sights on Evans in
three panels and secretly follows the apothecary to the Scorpion’s
secret lair in an old abandoned mine.

The rematch between the Kid and the Scorpion is five pages.  It’s
exciting and well-crafted.  Still, over-all, this story is not as
richly-layered and plotted as most of Lieber’s Rawhide Kid tales.
I was a little disappointed by that.

When Rawhide brings Evans in, the sheriff invites the Kid to stay
on for a while.  The Kid declines and rides off with his familiar
exit speech:

Thanks, Sheriff, but there are too many men with two many guns who
don’t share your kind feelings about me! So the best thing that the
Rawhide Kid can do for this peaceful town is to push on!     

Maybe some day I’ll find a place where my rep hasn’t got to first!
A place where I can hang up my guns and settle down! But, until
then, it’s got to be...adios!

The Rawhide Kid story is followed by the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins.
I actually remember this particular page from my youth because it
offered so much information about the writers and artists who were
fast becoming my heroes.  After the usual hard sell for the Marvel
Super-Heroes Show, we learned...

Gene Colan bought a motorcycle and, after telling everyone what a
great thing it was, showed up at Marvel with “a couple of bandaged
elbows and a sheepish expression.”

Larry Lieber sprained his sacroiliac bending down to pick up an art
eraser and then, about a week later, Bill Everett did practically
the same thing to his sacroiliac.

John Verpooten, standing six feet six inches tall and weighing just
under 300 pounds, joined the Bullpen.  The uncredited writer of the
page reveals Marvel’s secret plot to get John into costume and be
their very own super-hero.

Roy Thomas gave up a scholarship to George Washington University to
write for Marvel.  He would have studied world events and might’ve
ended up as a diplomat.

However, knowing how the ol’ rapscallion shoots his mouth off, he
might also have accidentally started World War, we figure
mighty Marvel saved humanity once more by keeping Mr. T chained to
his typewriter

A final item praised Jack Kirby as “the ARTISTS’ ARTIST” and says
it’s been a ball working with Jack all these years and that the
best is still ahead.

This page also included the names of 26 more members of the Merry
Marvel Marching Society and the Mighty Marvel Checklist.  By this
time, I had buying Marvel comics down to a science.  I knew exactly
when new issues would arrive at my neighborhood drug store.  I also
knew a small convenience store about a 20-minute bike ride further
that would get the comics on Saturday instead of the usual Tuesday.
Weather permitting, I almost always made that ride.

This issue’s non-series story is “The Man Called Kleeg” (5 pages),
reprinted from Kid Colt Outlaw #105 [July 1962].  Written by Stan
Lee with exceptional art by Don Heck, this story is told entirely
in captions.

Kleeg is a vicious gunman who can outdraw anyone and who terrorizes
folks from the Panhandle to the Rockies. Tracking Kleeg is “a slim,
straight, grim-faced rider with the silver badge of a ranger on his
breast.”  He looks like a formidable foe for Kleeg.

Kleeg attempts to ambush the ranger, but misses.  The ranger takes
cover behind a rock as Kleeg approaches.  Taking advantage of the
sun being in Kleeg’s eyes, the ranger makes his move.  Kleeg fires
and wounds the ranger in the leg.

Kleeg looks to be the victor in this deadly match and then realizes
he’s fired his last bullet.  Facing the ranger, knowing he’s been
outfoxed, Kleeg’s fear takes the ultimate toll on the gunman.  He
has a heart attack and dies.

I think that’s a terrific ending to the story, but, unfortunately,
it goes one caption further:

Except for its mention in this tale, the name of Kleeg the gunman
is long since forgotten in the annals of the west! But the name of
his foe, the man who actually scared him to death, will long be long as men honor the name of...Wild Bill Hickok!

I’ve written before how Stan used to love ending these short tales
by dropping the name of some famous western figure without regard
to historical accuracy.  In fact, Stan used Hickok on at least two
previous occasions in this title alone.  Normally, it gets a smile
out of me.  This time, it just mars an otherwise excellent story.

Next is a page that combines a pitch for MMMS merchandise, such as
t-shirts, sweat shirts and the ever-present Marvel stationary kit,
with the statement of ownership, management and circulation.  The
average total paid circulation for the previous year, including the
mail subscriptions, was 202,823.  I wonder how many current Marvel
titles are selling that well.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page closes the issue.
Tom MacMillan of Scotia, New York has just started reading Rawhide
and finds it just as entertaining as any of the Marvel super-
hero titles.  He suggests Marvel increase the length of the Kid’s
adventures to 24 pages.

Peter Grimshaw of Lynnfield Center, Massachusetts, loves Larry’s
art, but objects to the Kid’s shirt being similar ro that of Thor.
The uncredited letter-answerer claims Rawhide saw a picture of the
Thunder God in a book, liked the look, and had shirts resembling it
made for him.  Sure, why not?

Dick Morris of Big Horn, Wyoming wants Rawhide to team up with the
calvary and fight Indians.  The Marvel response plugs the new Ghost
Rider title with this offensive line:

That origin yarn has more redskins than Custer’s Last Stand!

Tommy Wheeler of Crosbyton, Texas doesn’t know what adjectives to
use to praise the Rawhide Kid.  He suggests Marvel put the title on
its Mighty Marvel Checklist to increase sales.  Marvel responds by
saying that don’t want the law to know where the Kid is.  I’d bet
against either Stan Lee or Roy Thomas being the letter-answerer in
this issue on account of the answers being so weak.

Come back next Wednesday as I look at another classic issue of The
Rawhide Kid...and weren’t they all?

I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. I'm not sure if I've seen your thoughts on the brief revival (presumably for copyright-retention purposes) of Marvel's Western heroes in 2006. I'd be curious to see if you think true to the spirit of the old stories from the 60's.

  2. I have a lot of Rawhide Kid issues to cover before I get to those 2006 comic books.

  3. Thanks for another excellent Rawhide Kid review Tony. It’s neat how the western Scorpion villain’s costume on the cover sort of resembles the stripes and green color of the Spider-Man villain.