Wednesday, May 17, 2017


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, honor and fighting skills - Johnny Clay speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel 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. We’re currently in the extended twilight of the title. We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the title, which is now a bimonthly reprint. This is the 111th installment in my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” series.

This week, we’re looking at Giant-Size Kid Colt #1 [January 1975], a 68-page issue with a cover penciled by Larry Lieber and inked by Vince Colletta. The issue guest-stars the Rawhide Kid in a western team-up written and penciled by Lieber, inked by Colletta, colored by George Roussos, lettered by Jean Izzo and edited by Roy Thomas. The 15-page cover story is backed up by six short Kid Colt stories (all reprint) and a non-series short story (also a reprint).

Among the questions I’m asking myself - I wasn’t spending much time in the color comics department at the time - is whether this story was originally done for the never-published Western Team-Up #2 or if it was commissioned specially for this first of the three issues of Giant-Size Kid Colt that were published in 1975.


“Meet the Manhunter!” (15 pages) starts with Kid Colt riding into a lawless town and finding the Rawhide Kid in the middle of a bar brawl. He pitches into help his friend, but, with the odds against them, the Kids make a break through a window.

Outside the saloon, some of the brawlers draw down on the Kids and one of them pays the ultimate price for his recklessness. Outlaw Scar Colby, brother of the slain man, vows vengeance on the Kids as they ride out of town. Figuring there’s safety in numbers, Colt and Rawhide decide they should stick together for a while.

The story shifts to “back east” where Detective Murdock attempts to arrest the Dolan Gang. But the aging copper is outgunned and ends up with a shoulder wound. Adding insult to injury, Murdock is then “retired” from the police force. Angered, Murdock decides to leave the city and go west with his grandson Billy.

Murdock and Billy arrive in the West. The former police detective figures to get rich using his skills as a bounty hunter. His first targets: two of the most notorious badmen in the West. Do I have to tell you who he’s talking about? I didn’t think so.

Murdock and Billy catch up with the Kids and ask if they can join them. Our heroes accommodate them. Sizing the young gunslingers up, the former lawman decides he must out-fox them. He takes Kid Colt’s money and pocket watch from the Kid’s saddlebags and puts them in Rawhide’s saddlebags. The plan is “divide and conquer” and, if the Kids draw on each other, well, Murdock will get the reward whether they are alive or dead.

Murdock’s plan works, albeit only partly. Colt and Rawhide slug it out, but don’t draw their guns. Neither will kill for money.

Colt thinks Rawhide is a thief. Rawhide is pissed that Colt thinks he’s a thief. They go their separate ways.

Murdock and Billy stay with Kid Colt. He’s grateful for the older man letting him know Rawhide robbed him.

Murdock’s back-up plan? He has cut the cinch strap on Colt’s horse.  Colt tumbles to the ground and is knocked out. When he wakes up, he’s been handcuffed. Colt realizes Murdock framed the Rawhide Kid and Murdock gloats about it. Might I add Murdock is not setting a good example for his grandson?

Murdock then rides after Rawhide. He tells the Kid that Billy was annoying Colt with questions about gunslinging...and Colt shot the lad. Rawhide rides back with Murdock to see how badly Billy’s been hurt.

Rawhide leans over the still form of Billy, but sees no wound. He turns to find Murdock holding a gun on him. With both the Kids in handcuffs, Murdock will take them to the nearest sheriff.

Hey, remember Scar? What do you figure the odds are that he would show up along the trail to the nearest sheriff?

Colby knocks Murdock off his house and takes his prisoners. Billy wants to call it quits on the whole bounty-hunting thing. Murdock ain’t about that.

Murdock sneaks up on the man guarding the Kids. He knocks him out from behind. He frees the Kids and gives them back their guns. The two gunslinger make short work of Colby’s men.

Colby grabs Billy and uses him as a shield. Murdock rushes between Rawhide and Colby. Colt takes advantage of this to tackle Colby and get Billy out of harm’s way.

One of Colby’s men draws on Kid Colt and gets gunned down for it. Colby tries to shoot Colt in the back, only to be shot dead by the Rawhide Kid. The Kids are buddies once again.

What about Murdock? He says:

I’m not about to turn in the men who saved the life of my grandson! Matter of fact, I’m giving up manhunting altogether.

You two have taught me that out here in the West it’s not easy to tell the good guys from the bad! So before I call any more wrong shots, I’m going back east...where at least I know the players.

Two of the west’s most colorful figures - you know who - then ride out toward another day and a new adventure.


“Meet the Manhunter!” has two major flaws that undermine the story terribly. At 15 pages, it’s way too short. By my estimation, there was enough plot and enough interesting characters that it could’ve run at least 22 pages.

The other flaw is that Kid Colt and the Rawhide Kid are simply not themselves in this story. Now Colt never had much personality, but Rawhide had a distinctive attitude and speech pattern. Which isn’t seen in this too-compacted adventure.

The January “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page runs after page nine of the story. “Stan Lee’s Soapbox” is the lead item. Lee discusses the just-completed New York Comic Art Convention, the upcoming Origins of Marvel Comics trade paperback and a said-to-be-upcoming Spider-Man movie. I’m pretty sure that last one didn’t happen.

In other items...

The Marvel softball team lost a game to the team from the Greenwich Village Voice. You can’t win them all.

The Iron Fist black-and-white magazine that never happened is said to have been pushed back yet another month to make sure it was just right. The same item also plugs the new Marvel Preview mag, which showcase a brand-new feature every issue. First up: Man-Gods from Beyond the Stars. No credits were announced, but the cover of the magazine was by Neal Adams. Inside the issue: Doug Moench wrote a 37-page script (concept and co-plot by Roy Thomas) that was drawn by Alex Nino. The issue also had a number of articles on UFOs and aliens plus a 10-page comics story by Marv Wolfman with art by Dave Cockrum. It was a homage to EC Comics.

Len Wein joined the Marvel staff as associate editor of the color comics. He was also writing Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk at the time.

Jim Starlin took time off from a “secret new mag” he was working on to draw a full-length story for Giant-Size Defenders. I’m guessing that “secret new mag” was Warlock.

Finally, Marvel talked about how difficult it was to find the right artist for Marvel Two-In-One. The company asked readers to send in their suggestions.

To the right of the Bullpen Bulletins page was a house ad for The Origins of Marvel Comics and the Mighty Marvel Calendar for 1975. The former cost $9.95 (cloth) and $5.95 (paper). The spiral-bound calendar was $3.95...or a few cents less than the cost of a single issue of one of Marvel’s 2017 comic books.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the middle chapter of this week’s Rawhide Kid Wednesday. I’ll be writing about this giant-size issue’s seven reprinted stories, six starring Kid Colt with the seventh being a non-series tale drawn by Gene Colan. See you then! 

© 2017 Tony Isabella

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