Wednesday, June 19, 2013
RAWHIDE WEDNESDAY 44
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.
See the desperate kid helplessly trapped by the deadly guns of “A
MAN CALLED DRAKO!”
The terrific cover of The Rawhide Kid #59 [August 1967] is by Dick
Ayers. Though Dick didn’t always capture the short stature of the
Kid, he was and is a master at depicting gritty western action. He
did a great job on this cover and on the interior story.
Digression. In case you’re wondering, Larry Lieber was on leave for
a few issues while he penciled over fifty pages of art for Amazing
Spider-Man Annual #4 [November 1967]. That annual is a favorite of
mine and, whenever my well-read copy surfaces, I’ll likely devote
an entire bloggy thing to the issue.
Written by Denny O’Neil, “A Man Called Drako” (17 pages) was drawn
by Ayers and unfortunately inked by Vince Colletta. Unfortunate
because the Colletta line doesn’t convey the rough and ready world
of these western adventures. I’d have preferred John Tartaglione,
who had already proven to be a fine inker for Lieber.
O’Neil’s story is a pretty good one. The burnoose-wearing Drako,
who affects an Arabian sensibility and style, is a very different
villain for the Marvel western titles. Having killed the owner of
a mine and claimed it for himself, he’s fired any workers who have
families and made slaves of those who don’t.
Seeking a job, the Rawhide Kid blunders into this situation. He’s
manhandled by Drako’s foremen, manhandles them right back and gets
the job. The usually savvy Kid doesn’t question the odd actions of
those foremen or that Drako makes surrendering his guns a condition
of employment. I guess even my favorite western hero can have an
When the Kid gets between a co-worker and the brutal foremen, both
he and the other man end up in a metal cage. Given only bread and
water, they are “sentenced” to several days of the blistering hot
sun. A sudden downpour allows them to escape, but, in attempting
to lead the miners in a revolt, the Kid’s new friend is ruthlessly
murdered by Drako. As you can imagine, this is highly motivating
to Rawhide and it doesn’t take him long to get that revolt going.
Once again armed, as are the miners, the Kid makes short work of
Drako’s cowardly foremen. Drako tries to ambush Rawhide, but our
guy has anticipated that move and set up his hat behind some rocks
as a decoy.
Drako is a master with a gun, knife or sword, but the Rawhide Kid
is his superior in hand-to-hand combat. Drako flees across a muddy
path to a bridge. He has a horse on the other side and figures he
can reach it before the Kid can stop him.
Nature has a different plan. The downpour has loosed the pegs that
hold the bridge tight. The pegs pull free from the mud and Drako
is clinging to the fallen bridge. The Kid yells that he can drop
a lasso to Drako, but Drako refuses.
No! I will accept nothing from my enemy...not even my life! What
fate has decreed...man must obey!
Man, what a gloomy son of a bitch.
Drako falls to his apparent doom. The freed miners thank the Kid.
One miner has ridden into town to bring back the law. Which means
it’s time for the Rawhide Kid to ride off into the sunset.
Why do western heroes always ride off into the sunset? Don’t they
ever get to knock off a couple hours early? Or maybe get a decent
night’s sleep and leave in the morning? Why am I just now asking
these questions after 44 Rawhide Kid Wednesdays?
This issue’s “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page is a disappointment.
It leads with a plug for Brand Echh, which must have been a working
title for Not Brand Echh, then moves on to plugs for some annuals,
for upcoming Fantastic Four and Spider-Man cartoons and for a new
M.M.M.S. (Merry Marvel Marching Society) membership kit. There is
a brief “Stan’s Soapbox” in which thanks Marvel readers for their
support, but none of the personal information about Marvel writers
and artists that I loved reading as a kid. The page also features
“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” and the names of 26 more members of
the M.M.M.S. An off-month for this page.
The non-series story this issue is a just-three-years-old reprint
of “The Winner” from Rawhide Kid #41 [August 1964]. This is what
I wrote about the story when I wrote about that issue...
The issue’s non-series story is “The Winner” (5 pages) by Stan Lee
(plot) and Larry Lieber (script and art). Like their collaboration
in the previous issue, this one is also more serious than most of
Frank Dawson, the fastest gun in the territory, rides into a town.
The citizens are terrified of him, even though he does nothing to
justify that fear. It’s his reputation that has them cowering at
his presence. He reflects on his life:
That’s how it’s been since I became the fastest draw! All these
years I’ve been shunned by decent folks...treated like a vile
animal! But I’m not! I’m a person and I crave the companionship of
other people! But it’s hopeless! My reputation cheats me of
friends! And surely no woman will ever love me! I’ll never get
married...never raise children! I’ll die a lonely unwanted old man!
Arrogant and brash Rafe Collins decides to make his own reputation
by outdrawing Dawson. The older man tries to ignore him, but Rafe
keeps pushing Dawson. A gunfight ensues and, much to the surprise
of all, Collins beats Dawson. The triumphant youth takes his leave
of the wounded Dawson.
Dawson is amazed by the reaction of the townspeople no that he is
no longer the feared fastest gun. One man even invites him to have
dinner with him and his wife. Dawson thinks: They no longer fear
me! They’re even befriending me! My plan worked! I could’ve won
that gunfight, but I purposely lost it!
His thoughts continue into the next panel:
Now I’ll no longer be known as the fastest draw! My reputation was
a curse that deprived me of worthwhile human contact! But at last
I’m free!! I can have friends! Maybe some woman will even marry me!
My days of loneliness are over! After all these long years!
Now it’s Rafe Collins who carries that burden. The townspeople are
afraid of him and even his friends shun him.
By beating Frank Dawson, I’ve made myself an outcast! I’m the real
loser! I’ll be alone the rest of my days unless–-unless I can get
beaten in a gunfight as he did! But if I deliberately lose, I’m
liable to get killed–-not just wounded! I can’t take the chance!
I’ve got to go on this way! I’ve got to give up everything and
...the fastest draw!
The reprint is followed by a page of Marvel merchandise. The top
half of the page with its t-shirts, sweat shirts, and ever-present
stationery kit hasn’t changed.
The bottom half of the page is for the Super-Heroes Club. As with
the previous issue, it offers a set of eight full-color, 12" by 16"
posters of Marvel characters for a buck. But, this time around, it
adds giant-sized 2-1/2 by 3-1/2 foot posters of Spider-Man and the
Hulk for a buck each and also a set of five “batty bullpen booster
buttons” for two bucks. The buttons read:
This “Super-Heroes Club” seems to be a Marvel venture, but it had
a different address than the one for the top half of the page. I
didn’t wonder about that back then, but it puzzles me now. Can any
of you explain this oddity to me?
The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page finishes up this
issue. There are three letters.
Al Russell of Baltimore thinks Rawhide is too much like Kid Colt.
He suggests Rawhide clear his name and get a new job as foreman of
a cattle drive. Marvel asks readers what they think.
Gilbert Romero of Dupont, Colorado doesn’t like Two-Gun Kid as much
as he likes Rawhide and Kid Colt. He prefers seeing outlaws fight
for justice? The Marvel response plugs Two-Gun Kid #89 wherein the
three heroes all appear in the same story.
Jimmy Wingfield of Washington, D.C. liked seeing the Kid fight the
Scorpion in issue #57, but also wants more “Indians, stage robbers
and gun-slinging pretty gals.” The Marvel response plugs the next
issue which will feature General George Custer.
That’s all for this week’s Rawhide Kid Wednesday, partners. Come
back tomorrow and I’ll have some other stuff for you.
© 2013 Tony Isabella