Wednesday, May 28, 2014


The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 56th installment of that series.

The Rawhide Kid #71 [August 1969] boasts a striking cover by Larry Lieber (pencils) and John Tartaglione (inks). As I’ve expressed in previous Rawhide Kid Wednesday, I really like this artistic combo. The scene is exciting enough with the Kid facing an Apache gunman on the edge of a crumbling cliff, but what kicks the cover image to an even greater level is that stunning reddish-orange background. This cover popped on the newsstands.

Digression. I would’ve bought this issue originally just before or after my graduation from St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio. I used to buy my comic books from a near-to-my-home drug store, but I think it had closed by then. So I bought from a combination cigar shop and comic-book store near the high school and from a couple of convenience stores a long bike ride away from my home. I hope you youngsters realize how much easier you have it these days with all your comic-book stores and online retailers and those newfangled digital downloads. End of old man digression.

“The Last Warrior!” (22 pages) by Lieber (writing and drawing) and Tartaglione (inking) is a solid story, but, in my more enlightened dotage, I couldn’t read it without thinking of the atrocities that the white settlers visited on the indigenous people they misplaced in their lust for empire. I don’t think Lieber’s treatment of the Apaches in this story is disrespectful, but history tells us that the oppression of the native people has, in many ways, continued to this day.  That said, I’ll write about the story sans any further commentary of that nature.

The Rawhide Kid rides into a town as a local store owner refuses to sell food to the Apaches whose crops have failed. The owner and a gang of his fellow racists attack the Apaches. When Rawhide tries to intervene, they threaten the Kid as well:

How ‘bout that?! We got us a real live Injun-lover! But not for long! ‘Cause the only thing I hate worse’n an Injun is an Injun-lover!

The Kid ends the fight with three well-placed shots, including one to the hand of a goon who tried to shoot him in the back.  Because being a racist wasn’t awful enough for that would-be bushwhacker. Not that they know they were facing the Rawhide Kid and how lucky they are to be not dead, the store owner and the goons decide to be okay with selling the Apaches their needed supplies.

Enter Ace Larkin. He’s got a mustache, a string tie, a vest and a cigar.  He’s a bad guy. He’s been trying to goad the Apaches into an uprising. He figures the Apaches will attack the settlers and drive them from their land. Then Larkin will move in and buy that land dirt cheap. Bad guy.

The Kid escorts the Apaches back to their village. Chief Lone Cloud calls Johnny Clay brother. The angry Red Eagle doesn’t accept this. The young warrior wants a war.

Red Eagle has trained himself in the use of a six-gun.  He’s good. Maybe even as good as Rawhide. But the Kid is not anxious to test his skills against the Apache’s, even when Red Eagle suggests that Johnny is a coward. The Kid replies:

A man doesn’t have to be a coward to value life...and to hate death!

The Kid rides back into town and reasons with the citizens.  They see the wisdom is becoming better neighbors. This does not please Ace Larkin, who sends his gunmen to ambush Apaches watering horses at a stream. Did I mention Larkin is a bad guy?

The wounded Apaches make their war back to the village and identify their attacks as men from the town. Red Eagle vows vengeance on all his enemies. The Kid figures the only chance of avoiding a lot of violence is if he can capture the men who attacked the Apaches and bring them to face the tribe’s justice.

Larkin’s men don’t deny attacking the Apaches when the Rawhide Kid confronts them in the saloon. They think they have him outnumbered because, low lives that they are, they have not been reading these “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” accounts. It takes our young hero less than two pages to educate them in such matters.

Lone Cloud decides to turn Larkin and crew over to the territorial marshall. But any hope of containing Red Eagle’s rage has passed. He has left the reservation to seek vengeance against all whites.

Lieber’s storytelling and drawing is first-rate in this story. He knocks himself out portraying Red Eagle’s four-page crime spree in a series if vignette panels and scenes. When word of these crimes reach Lone Cloud, he knows what must be done:

Red Eagle must be stopped, before he fans the fire of hatred between white and red man into a holocaust! But he must be stopped, not by a posse of blue coats...but by a lone warrior, as brave as himself...the Rawhide Kid!

The Kid agrees to try to stop Red Eagle. He spreads the word among likely targets in the territory to give Red Eagle that he wants a showdown. The Apache tells one of his victims to tell Rawhide that he will meet him at high noon in Cactus Pass.

The Kid believes Red Eagle is misguided, but no villain. He’s being far too kind. The two men meet.  But, when they face off, the Kid spots a rattler going for the Apache. Rawhide shoots and kills the rattler. The unsuspecting Red Eagle shoots the Kid, but the bullet only grazes Rawhide’s scalp and knocks him out.

Left for dead, Rawhide recovers consciousness and then goes after Red Eagle. He trails him to some nearby mountains. From above the Kid, Red Eagle is astonished that Rawhide is alive. They draw and the Apache falls from the ledge:

You have won, paleface! I die...but it is the death of a warrior...for that I am grateful...!

The Kid responds:

You fought bravely, Red Eagle! Your name will live forever!

Rawhide returns Red Eagle’s body to the Apache village. The body is prepared “for his journey to the sky!”

Lone Cloud offers this eulogy:

He was a great warrior...but he outlived his time! No longer can your people and mine settle our differences in battle! We must live together in peace...or we will not survive at all!

Lieber’s story and art are first-rate in this story. However, as I indicated earlier, stories involving our nation’s indigenous people make me uneasy. There are still too many wrongs yet to be righted throughout the history of that clash of cultures.


The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page appears after the sixth page of the story. The headline: Welcome to the Wonderful, Way-Out World of Marvel Madness! 

The Marvel news is slim this month. Tom Sutton penciled the latest issue of Captain Marvel. The company has some new titles coming up in the “spooky stories and the romance categories.” Marvel Super- Heroes has reprints of Lee/Kirby Avengers and X-Men stories. Inker George Klein got married after an 18-year engagement. The American blues band Mother Earth mentions Marvel in a song from its Living with the Animals album.

“Stan’s Soapbox” explains why Marvel comic books now cost fifteen cents instead of twelve:

In our never-ending efforts to bring you nothing but the very best, we’ve regularly increased the payments we make to artists, writers, prints, etc.

Let me toss this out to any of the writers and artists who worked for Marvel or for any other active publishers in 1968. Did you get a raise when the comics jumped up in price?

A few comics-related paid advertisements appear on those classified ad pages that used to be a regular feature of comic books way back in the day. The Grand Book Center of Brooklyn, New York both sells and buys comics. Howard M. Rogofsky of Flushing, New York has a new list with “new low prices” and over 50,000 issues on hand. Robert Bell offers a “Marvel Comic Check List & Price List” for a quarter and a “D.C. comic list” at the same price. Bell also buys and sells comic books.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page has four letters from readers. Paul W. Stollinger of Tampa, Florida enjoys Rawhide Kid and wants the return of Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid.

Albert Bell of Ironton, Missouri praises issue #68 “When Stalks the Cougar.” It’s his second-favorite Rawhide Kid story after “When the Scorpion Strikes” in issue #57.

Julie Froelich of Sayner, Wisconsin comes off as an apologist for Jesse James. Marvel doesn’t buy her arguments. Neither do I.

Phillip Hermann of Racine, Wisconsin says the Rawhide Kid deserves to be written to, so he writes nice things about issue #68. He’s as good as his word, that Phillip.

There are so many comic books and other things I want to blog about that I’m switching “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” to every other Wednesday for the summer.

I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella


  1. Hi Tony,
    I liked your old man digression detailing how you would peddle around to drug stores and various locations to get your comix fix in the 1960s…Those were the days…I did the same…Sometimes now when I’m in an older, unfamiliar town and I see a drug store I’ll compulsively go in and look for the spinner rack. Of course, the comics are never there anymore…You really can’t go home again…*sniff… best regards and thanks for a great column as always, Rich M.

  2. re: the Howard Rogofsky ad - he had a simple system to tell where people found his ad - in Marvel comics, he was "Howard M. Rogofsky"; in DC comics the ad would be the same except it would say "Howard D. Rogofsky". In the Overstreet Guide it said "Howard G. Rogofsky". I'm not sure how many variations there were.