Wednesday, July 10, 2013
RAWHIDE WEDNESDAY 46
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-packed adventure thunders your way when the Kid meets...Wild
Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane!
Despite a solid cover by Dick Ayers and Frank Giacoia, Rawhide Kid
#61 [December 1967] shows how much the title needs writer/artist
Larry Lieber. While my pal Larry was drawing miles of webs for the
1967 Amazing Spider-Man Annual, the Kid had to endure the racially
offensive “Shotgun to Deadwood!”
Writer Gary Friedrich, also a friend of mine who I hope won’t take
this review personally, seems to share editor Stan Lee’s fondness
for inserting historical figures into western comics. This issue
has frontierswoman and scout "Calamity Jane" Burke (1855-1903) and
lawman "Wild Bill" Hickok (1837-1876). The two were acquaintances
in real life, but I can’t vouch for the accuracy of their portrayal
in this story. I will say it isn’t so jarring that their presence
was a problem for me. My problem is, well, let’s get to that after
a brief synopsis of this adventure.
Rawhide is riding a stagecoach to pick up his horse. The driver is
Calamity Jane. A minister and his daughter are also passengers on
this trip. The coach is attacked by “redskins” twice. The second
time, the raiders kidnap Jane and her passengers, leaving behind an
unconscious Rawhide Kid. These attacks are the work of Black Jack
Simpson, who is seeking revenge on Hickok. In this story, Hickok
and Jane are linked romantically.
The Rawhide Kid teams up with Hickok to take down Simpson and his
Indian henchmen. The two gunfighters are too much for the bad guys
and win the day so easily that there’s really no suspense to their
confrontation. While all this is going on, the minister’s daughter
is making goo-goo eyes at Rawhide.
At the end of the story, everybody agrees Rawhide is a fine fellow.
The minister and his daughter will pray that the young man will be
able to clear his name someday. The Lord will judge the kid fairly
when the time comes. Cue the choir.
The story’s portrayal of Native Americans leaves a real bad taste
in my mouth. No demeaning cliche is ignored. They are “redskins”
and "savages." They are working for Black Jack because he gives them
“firewater.” They turn tail and run the moment they are faced with
more than one gunfighter. Bad stuff.
The story was drawn by Dick Ayers with Vince Colletta on the inks.
As I’ve said before, Colletta is not a good fit for western comics.
His lines are too soft for rugged western action.
The issue’s centerfold proclaims ABC’s Saturday morning cartoons to
be “America’s Best TV Comics” and Marvel even published a one-shot
comic with that title. The line-up:
9:00 am: Casper the Friendly Ghost
9:30 am: Fantastic Four
10:00 am: Amazing Spider-Man
10:30 am: Journey to the Center of the Earth
11:00 am: King Kong
11:30 am: George of the Jungle
Noon: The Beatles
The issue’s non-series story is “Blood is Thicker...! (5 pages) by
Friedrich with art by Tom Sutton. Two badmen come to town seeking
revenge on the marshal for killing their bank-robbing brother. The
marshal tries to move them off that path, but they are insistent.
He offers them a chance to settle the score by arranging a gunfight
between them and his brother. The two owlhoots don’t believe the
marshal has a brother, but agree to return at sundown. When they
return, they think they are fighting the marshal but it turns out
they are fighting his look-alike brother.
MARSHAL: That’s right, Cal! The gent with the Buntline specials is
the fellow you wanted to shoot down! Now why don’t you boys just
say howdy to my kid brother–-Wyatt Earp!
That’s right. It’s the “historical figure as surprise ending” bit
so beloved by editor Stan Lee back when he was writing these non-
series stories. It was fun to read this “encore” and to enjoy Tom
Sutton’s very detailed, very individual art.
This month’s “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” kicks off with a shout-out
to Jack and Roz Kirby on their 25th wedding anniversary. I’m sure
that seemed like a long time to me back then. Not so much now as
Barb and I will have been married 30 years next June.
In other Bullpen news...
The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man cartoons are promoted.
The Inhumans are replacing the “Tales of Asgard” back-up feature in
the pages of Thor.
Dan Adkins (Doctor Strange and Sub-Mariner) and Jim Steranko (Nick
Fury Agent of Shield) have become the newest darlings of the Marvel
fandom. Coincidentally enough, I met both of them at the same time
at an early 1970s Detroit Triple Fan Fair.
If you buy at least three Marvel titles per month, you’re an R.F.O.
(Real Frantic One).
An “Origins of the X-Men” back-up feature will begin appearing in,
what else, X-Men.
Forbush-Man will debut in Not Brand Echh.
Dick Ayers returns to pencil Sgt. Fury with John Severin inking.
They are described as “two towering talents.”
In “Stan’s Soapbox,” the Man wax philosophically on inferior comic
books published by other companies.
The page also features “The Mighty Marvel Checklist” and the names
of 26 more members of the Merry Marvel Marching Society.
Between an ad for the Merry Marvel Marching Society and the large
“Riding the Trail with Rawhide” logo, this issue’s letters page can
only run two letters.
Albert Smith of Russellville, Arkansas praises “When a Gunfighter
Faces the Enforcers” as a “classic example of how the white man
mistreated the Indians...and how misunderstood our red brothers
were.” I wonder what he made of this issue’s story.
Gary Marcella of Waterbury, Connecticut is another reader who wants
Rawhide to clear his name and become a lawman. That seemed to be
a common request. I wonder why Marvel never went that way with the
Kid, given that they had another misunderstood outlaw in Kid Colt.
I should ask Larry Lieber about that soon.
That’s it for this week’s “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” Though I will
be taking around ten days off when I go to Comic-Con International
in San Diego, I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella