Wednesday, August 21, 2013


If you’re new to the bloggy thing...

The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  Most
every Wednesday, I dive into my ever-growing collection of Rawhide
Kid to write about Johnny Clay and his adventures.  So, saddle up,
pardner, we got some hard riding to do if we want to catch up with
the greatest gun-slinging hero of them all!


The Rawhide Kid #63 [April 1968] seems like an “off” issue to me,
despite the return of Larry Lieber.  Maybe it’s because there was
so much other stuff going on at Marvel in early 1968, but this issue
almost seems thrown together to me.

Lieber’s cover for this “BIG ALL-ACTION ISSUE!” is an exciting one,
with Rawhide leaping from his horse at a brutish bad guy trying to
shoot him.  A second owlhoot is firing away as well.  Inker Vince
Colletta lavishes a great deal of attention on the cover’s horses.
Though westerns aren’t something Colletta’s style was suited for,
I like his work on this cover.

There are two Rawhide Kid adventures in this issue.  “Shoot-Out at
Mesa City!” (8 pages) is written by Ron Whyte with Lieber/Colletta
on the art.  The tale reads like a condensed version of some older
Rawhide stories.  Our young hero is in a small town in a territory
where he’s not a wanted man.  His peaceful moment is interrupted by
a thrown knife that pins his hat to a tree.

The town sheriff is none too happy to have a guy with Rawhide’s rep
in town.  He makes the Kid feel downright unwelcome and pretty much
tells him to get out of town.  The Kid doesn’t show the sheriff the
note that was on the knife blade:

Come to Hungry Horse Mesa tonight at midnight!

The Kid rides out to the mesa and finds outlaw Gila Johnson waiting
for him.  Johnson wants the Kid to join his gang.  The Kid refuses
and only manages to escape by using Johnson as a shield.  He rides
back to town to warn the sheriff...who still doesn’t want the Kid in
his town, not even to help him stop Johnson from robbing a big gold
shipment coming in my stage.

The sheriff sets a trap for Johnson, but is outgunned until the Kid
charges to the rescue.  Rawhide shoots Gila’s men and goes man-to-
man with the slippy outlaw.  Lieber puts a lot of energy into the
several-panel battle and it’s the high point of an otherwise so-so

The sheriff apologizes to Rawhide, but the Kid rides away.  He
knows he will always be a fugitive until he clears his name.  His
departure from a territory where he’s not a fugitive makes no more
sense this time than in did in all those other stories.

There’s a bit of the fantastic in “The Gun that Couldn't Lose!” (7
pages), which is both written and penciled by Lieber.  The Rawhide
Kid is called out by Cheeno Yates, who claims to be the fastest gun
in the West.  The Kid outdraws Yates, but he can’t pull the trigger
and is wounded in the arm.  You see...

Cheeno’s partner has what appears to be “just an innocent-looking
pocket watch.” But, instead of a watch, the case conceals a small
but powerful magnet.  The magnet creates a force field attracting
the iron trigger of any gun and prevents Cheeno’s opponents from
squeezing the trigger.  The partner is not named in the story, but
I’m guessing he’s some black-sheep ancestor of Tony Stark.

While his arm heals, Rawhide follows Cheeno from town to town and
figures out the scam.  When the Kid is able to draw his gun again,
he challenges Cheeno to a gunfight.  But, this time, the Kid first
knocks out Cheeno’s partner and takes the magnet.  One humiliating
defeat later, Cheeno retires from gunfighting.

Lieber gets a lot of story into just seven pages.  I’m not sure I
buy the magnet bit, but, what the heck, I was just glad to see
him writing and drawing Rawhide again.

This issue’s reprint is a Kid Colt story from Kid Colt Outlaw #105
[July 1962].  “Dakota Dixon, the Badman” (7 pages) is an outlaw who
lived with Colt and his father for a few years back when he was a
teen.  Colt’s dad has promised Dixon’s father he would look after
and protect Dakota.  Colt feels honor-bound to do the same, even if
it means walking away from a fight.  The story was written by Stan
Lee and drawn by Jack Keller.

Dixon’s gang doesn’t believe Colt won’t stop them and figure they
have to get the Kid out of the way first.  Outgunned, surrounded,
Colt figures he’s going down fighting.  That would have been what
happened, but Dixon jumps between Colt and one of his back-shooting
henchmen.  Colt asks the dying Dakota why he gave his life to save
the Kid.  Dixon’s dying words:

Maybe–-maybe I wanted to prove yore father was right–-when he said
Dakota ain’t–-as bad as he–-seems–-ohhh...

Kid Colt reflects:

Fate works in mighty strange ways! Because my dad tried to befriend
a teen-ager years ago, my life was saved today! Well, I reckon Dad
was right, after all! I reckon maybe nobody is really all bad!

It’s rare for a reprint to be the best story in an issue of Rawhide
, but this moving tale is an impressive one.  As for the art, I
really like Keller’s work.  Along with Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers and,
of course, Larry Lieber, he was one of the reasons I liked Marvel
westerns so much.

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page was filled with announcements
of new Marvel titles.  Captain America and the Incredible Hulk were
getting their own books.  Two other heroes would appear in Iron Man
and Sub-Mariner
#1 (and only) before getting their own titles next
month. The new Not Brand Echh was said to be “the unexpected smash
hit of the decade” and the Kree-born Captain Marvel was starring in
Marvel Super-Heroes.

A new Marvel rank was announced.  If a reader had previously been
awarded the ranks of RFO (Real Frantic One who bought three or more
Marvel comics a month), QNS (Quite ‘Nuff Sayer who had a published
letter in a Marvel comic), TTB (Titanic True Believer who had won
a No-Prize) and KOF (Keeper of the Flame who had recruited a “new
disciple into the rollicking realm of Marveldom), that reader held
the rank of PMM (Permanent Marvelite Maximus).

Because I didn’t have a No-Prize, it wasn’t until the 1990s that I
was able to claim the rank of PMM. A sarcastic Marvel editor sent
me one in a response to my query letter about what he was looking
for in the titles he was editing.  That editor is no longer working
in the comics industry or, near as I could determine from a quick
online search, any other creative field.

In “Stan’s Soapbox,” our fearless letter announced Marvel would no
longer refer to its competition as “Brand Echh.” In light of DC’s
malodorous “New 52,” maybe Marvel should consider resurrecting the
phrase.  Just saying.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” was filled with cool comics this time
out.  Not Brand Echh #7 has the origins of the Fantastical Four and
Stuporman.  Fantastic Four #73 had Doc Doom, Spider-Man, Daredevil
and Thor.  Hercules was battling Typhon in Avengers #50 and Charlie
Xavier was allegedly dying in X-Men #42.

Thor was being claimed by Hela, Goddess of Death in his own book.
Captain America was reliving his origin during a team-up with the
Black Panther.  The Hulk was “vacationing” in Asgard.  In Strange
#167, Steranko was knocking our socks off with his Nick Fury
stories.  Back in World War II, the second issue of Captain Savage
had the Leatherneck Raiders going up against the Samurai Squad with
Baron Strucker in the background.  Good times.

There’s no “Ridin’ the Range with Rawhide” letters page this issue.
There is a nearly full-page ad for Not Brand Echh #7 and Strange
#167 with great covers by Marie Severin and Steranko.

Also on this page - in teeny type - is the statement of ownership,
management and circulation.  The statement is dated October 1, 1967
and list the total average paid circulation of The Rawhide Kid as
205,221 copies.  The single issue nearest to the filing date was
238,200.  I’m going to speculate that the larger number represents
an issue published during summer when, traditionally, comics sales
were higher.   

That’s it for this edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday,” my rannies.
I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Always treat the single issue nearest to filing date figure with caution. Comichron says the following:

    One proviso is certainly apt: as soon as publishers began relying on affidavit returns rather than actual returns of unsold or stripped copies from distributors, they became dependent upon the distributors to report that information in a correct and timely manner.

    We know that often, that information was not reported in a timely manner. That is why I have implored readers to never, ever place any weight on the column known as "nearest issue to filing date," which began being reported in the mid-1960s. Since publishers didn't have all the information about returns, the number of returned copies is often lower than the average figure for the year — and the sales, thus, appear higher than the average for the year. I can't tell you how many comments and posts I've read over the years from people who looked at the "closest issue" data and wrongly concluded that a comic book was improving in sales.

    It can happen, especially if some big event happened or some famous creator joined a title in the latter part of the year. But the truth usually is the "closest issue" data is simply incomplete, and often by a wide margin.