Wednesday, June 8, 2016


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 79th installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #93 [November 1971] was a 52-page issue, which cost a quarter. This was the second of two 52-page issues published by Marvel. With the December issue, Marvel went back down to its usual 36-page comics, now priced at twenty cents.

This issue also introduced a new cover design for all of the Marvel titles. The cover scene would be in a box with logo and additional copy above and more copy below. The new design would last one tear or so. It was gone by the time I went to work for Marvel in October of 1972. This first boxed Rawhide Kid cover was pencilled by Larry Lieber and inked by Syd Shores.

The cover story “Mountain Pursuit” (14 pages) is written and drawn by Lieber with inks by Shores. While Shores does give a “grimier” feel to the art, it’s not as attractive or as successful a pairing with Lieber as was John Tartaglione. Like most of the Rawhide Kid stories of this era, this one has never been reprinted in the U.S., only in Norway and the Netherlands.


The story opens with the Kid on the run in the “high country of the Colorado Rockies.” Once again, he’s left a territory where he’s not wanted to travel through a territory where he is wanted. He hears gunshots “coming from up yonder” and follows them to find a lawman pinned down by gunfire.

The Kid rushes to the side of that U.S. marshal, even though the lawman immediately recognizes Rawhide’s outfit and buttons. Maybe it wouldn’t be as effective as Clark Kent’s glasses, but some new threads could have saved our young hero a whole lot of grief over the years. Sigh.

The marshal was on the trail of bank robber Wes Concho and his girl friend Ruby. We never learn Ruby’s full name, but my guess would be “Ruby Makesbadchoiceswithmen.” I’m afraid this story is bringing out the snark in me.

The marshal is surprised Rawhide is fighting by his side, but the Kid suggest he not believe everything he reads on a wanted poster. Concho causes a landslide and, when the good guys hustle away from their cover, the outlaw shoots the marshal in the shoulder before escaping with Ruby.

The Rawhide Kid, frontier surgeon, removes the bullet and patches up the marshal. They get back on Concho’s trail and catch up with him and Ruby. The Kid shoots the cinch strap of the bank robber’s saddle and the man tumbles from his horse.

A short fight follows. The downed Concho reaches for his gun. The Kid punches him in the head. Concho grabs a rock and tries to brain Rawhide. The Kid punches him in the head again.

The marshal says they’re all going to ride to the ghost town where Concho hid the loot from the robbery. Concho recognizes the Kid and exclaims:

Why in blazes would an owlhoot like you help the law?!

Says the Kid:

Because I am an outlaw like me and not like you!

Oh, snap!

Concho thinks the Kid is stringing the marshal along to get all the money for himself. He tells Rawhide it won’t work because his boys will be waiting for them. But he still tries to convince the Kid to switch sides.

A man named Yates rides up to their campfire and asks to join them. He’s not a member of Concho’s gang. The next day, Yates is invited to ride with them and accepts the offer. He’s still not a member of Concho’s gang and, when he spots some of the gang on an overhead ridge, he warns Rawhide and the marshal. When the gang commences to shooting at them, Rawhide and Yates shoot back.

Gang member Ben is hit and tumbles from the ridge. The other gang members say they’ll come back for him later. They don’t. The Kid, the marshal and Yates don’t check on him either. Poor Ben probably gets eaten by coyotes. Or maybe coyotes accept him as one of their own, nurse him back to health and teach him their ways. Later, Ben will become a costume villain called the Coyote and seek revenge on the Kid. Pay no mind to the babbling blogger. Something’s just not right with that guy.

Concho chortles. His gang will be back. Thinking to herself, Ruby figures the marshal and the others don’t stand a chance and will be killed. She thinks she has the answer. Sigh.

Ruby turns Yates to the dark side. All he has to do is get the drop on the marshal and the Kid. They can free Concho without bloodshed. Concho would then cut Yates in for a share of the loot. Though he has never gone up against the law before, Yates figures he’ll never have a chance at a score like this again. Sigh.

Yates does as Ruby asks. Concho is free, but isn’t about to honor the bargain Ruby made. When Yates refuses to drop his guns, Concho shoots him dead. Bad choices, Ruby. Bad choices.

Concho makes a bad choice as well. He leaves the Kid and the lawman alive. He ties them up and tosses their guns down the hill. I’ve no idea why Concho wouldn’t kill them as well, but his poor judgment keeps the story from ending four pages early.

Rawhide whistles. His horse gallops over to him and chews through the ropes binding him. The Kid finds their guns. He and the marshal head for the ghost town where Concho and his gang are dividing up their ill-gotten gains.

The Kid tries to take the gang down without bloodshed. The outlaws aren’t about that. He has to shoot them dead. Ruby holds her head and maybe thinks about her bad choices.

MARSHAL: Good work! Yuh got ‘em all...’cept Concho!

RAWHIDE: He high-tailed it when the shooting started! He must be hiding somewhere! C’mon, let’s go find him!

Concho is on a rooftop preparing to backshoot the Rawhide Kid. The Kid, looking at Ruby, knows something is amiss.

RAWHIDE: That look in your eyes! What’s wrong, gal?

Ruby can’t let this go on. She warns the Kid. Rawhide whirls around and fires. Concho is shot and falls to his death, but manages two word balloons telling Ruby what a fool she is.

RUBY: Oh, Wes...Wes...why couldn’t you understand? I never wanted the money! I cared only for you! I loved you!

She continues:

But even love has its limits...and cold-blooded murder goes beyond them! I couldn’t allow another killing! I just couldn’t.

The marshal, preparing for his new career as a defense attorney in Matt Hawk’s firm, gets the last word:

And I reckon that little fact will carry considerable weight at your trial! C’mon, gal, it’s time to go home!

Obviously, this story didn’t work for me. That almost never happens with one of Lieber’s tales. Sigh.

Because of the expanded page count of this issue, Marvel included 22 pages of reprints, two stories that originally saw print in The Rawhide Kid #61 [December 1967].

“Shotgun to Deadwood” (17 pages) was written by Gary Friedrich with art by Dick Ayers and Vince Colletta. Blurbed on the cover of this issue, it featured Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. This story was reprinted twice more in issues #132 [March 1976] and #145 [May 1978]. The latter of those issues features a terrific cover by Gene Colan (pencils) and Alan Weiss (inks).

“Blood is Thicker” (5 pages) is a non-series tale by Friedrich with art by Tom Sutton. This is the only U.S. reprinting of the story.

I wrote about these reprinted stories on July 10, 2013. Rather than copy those comments today, I direct you to the original bloggy thing, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

There are no Mighty Marvel Checklist, Marvel Bullpen Bulletins or house ads in this issue. There is a “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page.

Reader Louis Goldman of Philadelphia wants to see a story featuring the Rawhide Kid with the Two-Gun Kid, Kid Colt, Ringo Kid and the Outlaw Kid. He also wants a Rawhide Kid Annual, which, as whoever was answering these letters reveals, is now on sale. I don’t think we saw a team-up of the Kids (and other western characters) until sometime in the 2000s, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on my memories of same.

College student Richard Volbrecht, who attends SUNY in Courtland, New York enjoys the Rawhide Kid and shares his subscription copies with his two roommates and a third friend. Marvel wants to know why his friend can’t buy their own copies.

Volbrecht also seconds an earlier reader suggestion that Marvel do a new comics series about the Buffalo Soldiers. He thinks a story in Rawhide Kid could test the market for that. The letter answerer says Marvel will give it a lot of thought. Four-and-a-half decades later, I suspect Marvel isn’t still thinking about it.

Randy Griffith of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania requests a shoot-out between Rawhide, Kid Colt, Two-Gun Kid and the Ghost Rider, which doesn’t strike me as the same thing as a team-up. He also wants to know why the Ghost Rider and Two-Gun Kid titles were discontinued. The answer is, of course, poor sales.

Gina Suderni of Dawson City, Yukon, Canada wrote to say she reads all the Marvel mags. Her favorite characters are Rawhide, Two-Gun, Ringo Kid, Outlaw Kid and Millie the Model.

The letters page concludes with a note from the Bullpen explaining the economics of why Marvel books have increased in size and price. From 36 to 52 pages and from 15 cents to 25 cents. I can’t wait to see the explanation next month when the comics go back down to 36 pages, but at a cover price of 20 cents.

That’s all for this week’s “Rawhide Kid Wednesday,” but you and I can ride the range again next week. In the meantime, I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff. See you then. 

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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