Wednesday, July 3, 2013
RAWHIDE WEDNESDAY 45
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.
Writer/artist Larry Lieber is still working on the Amazing Spider-
Man annual for this year, so he’s missing from The Rawhide Kid #60
[October 1967]. The cover artists are Dick Ayers and Herb Trimpe,
who also handled the interior art on the cover story.
The cover copy is hard-sell: Now it can be told!! The six-gun saga
you demanded as the Kid thunders into a deadly...INDIAN WAR!
And also: The Greatest ACTION EPIC of them all!
“Massacre at Medicine Bend” is scripted by Gary Friedrich and Denny
O’Neil. Letterer Al Kurzrok spells Gary’s name as “Freidrich” in
the credits. Marvel credits of this era are sometimes ambiguous so
we don’t know who plotted the story. It could have been either or
both of the writers, it could have editor Stan Lee, it could have
been pencil artist Ayers. We do know that the story runs 17 pages
in length and that it features Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer
It’s an interesting story on many levels. It starts with Rawhide,
weak from two days without food or water, trying to escape from a
band of Sioux warriors. It looks like the Kid has reached the end
of his trail, but, surprisingly, the warriors capture him instead
of killing him.
Rawhide is imprisoned and taken to Chief Bald Eagle. The Sioux are
being blamed for a massacre, a massacre that was actually carried
out by renegades being armed by the gunrunner LaPlante. Secretly
working with LaPlante is Crazy Bear, a warrior who believes an all-
out war will drive the white men from Sioux lands.
Custer is also eager for all-out war with beings he considers to be
no more than savages. The wiser Bald Eagle wants a chance to prove
his tribe’s innocence and negotiate peace with Custer. He captured
Rawhide so that the Kid could carry this message to Custer and set
up a meeting. Custer agrees to a meeting.
LaPlante and the renegades attack Custer and his men at the meeting
place. Custer thinks Rawhide is a traitor. Rawhide goes after the
gunrunner and is forced to kill him. Any slim chance of peace has
The Kid is captured by Custer’s men. Custer believes the Kid was
duped and releases him with the warning that if he remains in the
area he will be arrested.
Custer is awaiting more troops with which he plans to wipe out the
Sioux. Bald Eagle must prepare for war. Crazy Bear, whose role in
this treachery is still unrevealed, says they should join up with
Sitting Bull. He anticipates winning great glory.
This is not a happy ending for anyone. The Kid can do nothing to
stop this war and sadly rides away from the Little Big Horn. The
impatient Custer decides to start the attack before the arrival of
his additional forces. That will end badly for him. And, for the
Sioux and other tribes, their persecution at the hands of the white
men will continue and they will suffer greatly.
There have been tragic deaths in previous Rawhide Kid stories, but
this tale is but a chapter in one of the most shameful and tragic
periods in our nation’s history. It was a hard story to read and
a hard story to write about.
The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page is still plugging the upcoming
Fantastic Four cartoon series, the satirical Not Brand Echh and the
summer annuals. When it gets around to the creators, we learn Roy
Thomas has bought a pet ocelot...Gary Friedrich has sold a bunch of
pop songs...newcomer Raymond Marais is writing Dr. Strange and the
Sub-Mariner...and Marshall McLuhan had a brief interview with and
a full-page photo of Stan Lee in The Mechanical Bride, the famous
philosopher’s first book.
“Stan’s Soapbox” discusses whether or not Marvel should be taking
political and social stands in its comic books and asks the Marvel
readers want they think. The page also includes the names of 26 of
those readers, all of them members of the M.M.M.S. (Merry Marvel
“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” touts the first appearance of “Him”
(the future Adam Warlock) in Fantastic Four #67. Familiar names in
the checklist entries include Doctor Octopus, the Cobra, Mr. Hyde,
the Titanium Man and Modok. Good times.
This issue’s five-page reprint stars the Two-Gun Kid in a story by
Stan Lee and Dick Ayers. “The Bronc Buster” originally ran in Two-
Gun Kid #63 [May 1963] and is a humorous contrast to the grim lead
story of this issue.
Attorney Matt Hawk (secretly the Two-Gun Kid) takes schoolteacher
Nancy Carter to the rodeo where they encounter a swaggering bronc
buster by the name of Laredo Smith who challenges Matt to attempt
to ride a horse named Tornado and win $100 prize. Matt wishes he
could ride the stallion. During the rodeo, he slips away from his
date, changes into his Two-Gun Kid mask and outfit and does that.
In a thrilling ride, our hero tames Tornado.
Returning to Nancy with some gumdrops, Matt watches as rider after
rider tries to ride Tornado. All fail. To Nancy’s great surprise
and undisguised terror, Matt steps forward to take his shot at the
stallion. Tornado apparently recognizes Matt’s butt and is gentle
as all get out with the lawyer.
Matt wins the prize. The crowd turns on Laredo and figures him for
a cheat of some kind. Laredo gets ready to pick a fight with Matt,
only to get kicked in the ass by Tornado. Stan’s closing dialogue
is great fun...
LAREDO: You sneaky coyote! I don’t know what you did or how you did
it, but you just cost me a fortune! I’ve got a good mind to...
MATT (walking away from the sprawled Laredo, who has hoofprints on
the butt of his pants): Correction, Laredo! You might have a strong
back, broad shoulders and a big noisy mouth! But a good mind??? Uh
uh –- you’re just flattering yourself, mister!
The usual Marvel merchandise ad page is followed by the very short
letters page. Dennis Schmitz and Watkins, Minnesota says Rawhide
Kid is one of the best western comics he’s ever read and says that
he gets magazines for free because his sister works in a drugstore.
Sounds like employee theft to me.
Tom Allright of Hanover, Pennsylvania writes that “Rawhide’s house
is real cool. Most Nightwinds are, you know!” The unknown Marvel
responder: It’s no blow to us if you wanna make breezy puns ‘bout
Nightwind, pard, ‘cause weather you know it our not, we think puns
are perfectly all right!”
Finally, Mildred Walker of Wichita Kansas points out that Rawhide’s
name was “Johnny Bart” in one issue and “Johnny Clay” in another.
The Marvel response says Rawhide’s real name is John Barton Clay
and that his pals called him Johnny-Bart. Which is as wrong as it
Johnny was orphaned as an infant and raised by Ben Bart. However,
in later issues, he met his brothers and learned his real name was
Johnny Clay. Which is what he used from then on.
Can I get a retroactive “no prize” for this?
Thanks for riding the range with me, pards. I’ll be back tomorrow
with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella