Wednesday, July 16, 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 59th installment of that series.

Our young hero takes a punch to the gut on the cover of The Rawhide Kid #74 [February 1970]. The cover is penciled by Larry Lieber, who writes and draws the interior story, and inked by John Tartaglione, who inks the interior story. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but, though the indicia gives the official title of this series as The Rawhide Kid, the cover logo always omits the “The.”

“Attack of the Apaches” (20 pages) combines familiar western themes into an exciting story. You have a lawman turned bounty hunter who gets the drop on the Kid. You have the Kid too weary from his life of being hunted to resist. You have a group of people trapped by a band of Apaches in a lonely relay station. You have the unexpected alliance of the bounty hunter and the outlaw. In short, Lieber has lots of intriguing elements to play with.

The story opens with the exhausted Kid checking into a hotel room. He’s not looking for any trouble. All he wants is a soft bed and uninterrupted sleep. The bounty hunter spots him, waits until he’s sure the Kid is in bed and then breaks down the door. As mentioned above, Rawhide doesn’t resist:

So this is how it ends...after all the running...and the hiding. Maybe it’s just as well! I’m tired of being hunted like an animal! Let it end here and now, once and for all!

The young outlaw and the manhunter don’t bond. The outlaw realizes the bounty hunter doesn’t care if he’s guilty or innocent. In the bounty hunter's experience, every outlaw he catches says he’s innocent. The former lawman tells the Kid he got tired of risking his life for low pay and people who couldn’t have cared less. So he went into business for himself.

Along the way to Waco, Rawhide and the bounty hunter here a whole bunch of shooting. It’s coming from the relay station. In a great full-page shot, Lieber shows how desperate the situation is for the people inside the station. The bounty hunter has enough lawman in him that he knows he must help them.  He unties the Kid and gives him back his guns, taking the chance Rawhide will fight alongside him. Hey, the Kid is the hero of this title. If he turned tail and ran, he wouldn’t deserve to have his name in the logo.

The Kid and his captor shoot their way through the Apaches and into the station. Inside, they find four men and a woman. The attack of the Apaches is repulsed, but it’s certain they will be back to try again.

The courageous station master slips out the window. He figures he can slip past the Apaches and reach the  Army post ten miles away. With the sunrise, the station master returns. His body falls from his horse. He never got through to get help.

The Apaches attack again. The Kid and the others do their best to hold them off. Suddenly, the Apaches retreat:

Crazy Wolf has seen too many of his brothers slain this day. There will be no more Apache blood spilled!

The relay station survivors bury the station master and head out. Right into an ambush. A landslide blocks one end of a pass and the Apaches block the others. Rawhide and company surrender. They are brought before a vengeful Chief Grey Hand:

You are just the first of countless white-eyes who will pay for the wrongs that your people have done to mine. All of you but one will suffer the vengeance of the Apache.

Next surprise:

You, the outlaw called Rawhide Kid are free! Because you are a foe of your own people! It serves me purpose to keep you alive!

The Kid contemplates this turn of events:

What’s the price of my freedom? The lifelong memory of five people who I deserted when their lives were on the line!

Rawhide turns from his horse and demands a trial by combat, a fight to the death for the lives of the captives. The chief doesn’t get it, but is bound by Apache law to grand the request.

The Kid must face Crazy Wolf, the strongest of the braves, in the “no weapons allowed” fight. Rawhide takes a beating, but he fights back. Crazy Wolf didn’t expect this tough of a fight. He grabs his knife and goes for Rawhide. The Kid ducks under the charge and his opponent goes sailing off a high cliff. Fight over.

The captives are released. Because: In this neck of the woods, an Apache chief’s word is worth more than a handful of prisoners.

Rawhide tells the bounty hunter they have unfinished business, but the former lawman disagrees.

Not any more! I couldn’t turn over to the law a man who risked his neck to save our lives! I’ve known many outlaws, son...but never one of your cut! I don’t know where the notorious Rawhide Kid belongs...but, as far as I’m concerned, it sure ain’t in jail! Adios, hombre!

“Attack of the Apaches!” has never been reprinted in this country. That’s a genuine shame.

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” get a full page this issue. There’s a teaser about Doctor Strange guest-starring in a comic this month. There’s a shout-out to Barry Smith, who drew a story in the third issue of Tower of Shadows. There’s a longer shout-out to the great Joe Sinnott that praises his inking and his penciling. A quick news item says the Scorpio story from S.H.I.E.L.D. will be wrapped up in The Avengers. There’s a shout-out to the returning Wally Wood who will do some stories for the mystery comics. There’s a plug for All in Color for a Dime, the book of comics history that was edited by Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff and which has an article Roy Thomas wrote in 1962. There’s a shout-out to Herb Trimpe with a mention of how sales of Incredible Hulk have been rising since Trimpe started drawing the title. Whew!

The best line of the above comes at the end of the Wally Wood item: “Now if only a cat named S.D. would dig up our phone number again! Oh well, we can always dream!”

“Stan’s Soapbox” is a touching love letter to all those who produce Marvel’s comic books. He says he has never known a more ethical or honorable creative group.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” for the month is filled with terrific  and not-so-terrific villains: Monocle, the Kangaroo, the Rhino, the Leader, the Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man and more. These done-in-one stories weren’t always as strong as their predecessors, but I was still digging them.

This issue’s classified pages had ads from comics dealers Richard Alf, Howard Rogofsky, Robert Bell, Comics Sales, F.L. Buza, Passaic Book Center and Grand Book. There was also an ad for...let’s save that one for an addendum to today’s bloggy thing.

The Mighty Thor #172 (“The Menace of the Mind Slave” shares a half-page ad with The Invincible Iron Man #22 with Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo. The other half of the page advertises the still-new Marvelmania International fan club.

A full-page house ad announced Kid Colt Outlaw #142 and The Ringo Kid #1 were now on sale. Both were recent returns to Marvel’s line-up, were all reprints and had reprinted Joe Maneely covers.  Colt had been back for three months following an 18-month hiatus. This issue’s contents were reprinted  from Kid Colt Outlaw #73 [June 1957].

Ringo Kid Western ran for 21 issues from August 1954, to September 1957. The revived Ringo Kid would run 30 issues from January, 1970, to November 1976. This first issue reprinted stories from issues #10 and #11 of the original series.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page had three letters this time out. Mike Francis of Manhattan Beach, California wanted Rawhide to face costumed villains like the Tarantula...continued stories...guest appearance by other Marvel western heroes...more detailed background...two pages of letters...and guest appearances by modern-day Marvel heroes and villains.

Vicky Jerome of Manitoba was crushing on the Rawhide Kid big-time. She didn’t care if his clean-cut face and clean clothes were less than realistic. She liked him just the way he was.

On the other hand, Blaine Anthony of Reno, Nevada, thought the Kid should grow some whiskers or a mustache. He also complained about the too-bright coloring of the clothes of the characters appearing  in the stories.

That’s it for this edition of Rawhide Kid Wednesday. I’ll be back tomorrow with something different.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. "There’s a plug for All in Color for a Dime, the book of comics history that was edited by Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff and which has an article Roy Thomas wrote in 1962."

    I read my old mass-market paperback of that book to pieces — literally. And I checked the hardcover of The Comic-Book Book out of our local library so many times that the librarians finally sold it to my dad. Later I got the new Krause editions autographed by Maggie, but honestly just getting to know her and Don a bit later in life was a thrill.