Wednesday, February 13, 2013
RAWHIDE WEDNESDAY 33
The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character. So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday. When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy more issues of the title. Because that’s
what the Kid would have done.
I wrote about The Rawhide Kid #47 [August 1965] last Wednesday and
didn’t realize something significant about that issue’s cover. It
was Jack Kirby’s last cover for the title he’d relaunched with Stan
Lee in 1960 and for which he had drawn every cover since.
Larry Lieber assumed the cover artist chores with The Rawhide Kid
#48 [October 1965]. The scene shows a fearful Kid hiding around a
corner as the fierce-looking Marko the Manhunter rides into town.
The Grand Comics Database opines that Carl Hubbell inked the cover.
Hubbell was a veteran comics artist who got his start at the Jerry
Iger Studio and with later credits at Archie, Lev Gleason, Marvel
and other publishers. Around this time, Hubbell did a fair amount
of inking for Marvel on Rawhide Kid, Sgt. Fury and Two-Gun Kid. He
followed the Marvel stint with work on the wacky Myron Fass version
of Captain Marvel and war, western and hot rod comics at Charlton.
I can neither confirm or deny the GCD’s guarded identification of
Hubbell as the possible inker of this cover. I’m not enough of an
art detective to do that, though, in other cases of identification
of uncredited inkers, the GCD listings just don’t seem right to me.
It’s a gut thing and should be taken as such.
“The Bounty Hunter” (17 pages) is an unusual story, as you’ll see
in the following paragraphs. It’s written and drawn by Lieber with
no listed inker credit. The GCD lists Frank Giacoia, but I’m not
confident about that listing. I’d love to see a comics historian
sit down with Lieber and show him this issue. As I recall, Larry has
a good memory and could probably confirm or deny this and any other
GCD credits that deviate from the published credits.
The story opens with a symbolic splash page of Rawhide shaking in
his boots as he faces the ready-for-a-gunfight Marko. I’m fairly
sure this is the first time we’ve seen the Kid afraid:
They say that no man who was there on that grim day ever forgot the
chilling side of the Rawhide Kid, best and boldest of gunfighters,
cringing like a tenderfoot, as he faces his most dangerous and
relentless foe...Marko, the Manhunter!
We won’t see the Kid again until page five of this adventure and he
won’t strap on his shooting irons until the end of page eight.
Marko is the “star” of the opening sequence. He rides into town in
search of two escaped prisoners. These owlhoots are holed up in a
barn, but Marko outfoxes and outshoots them and takes them alive.
The town offers him the sheriff’s job, but he turns them down. He
can’t remain in one place as long as there are fugitives at large.
Being a bounty hunter is his job and his passion. When asked who
is next on his list, Marko responds:
A young outlaw...a tricky little gunslick who has evaded justice
much too long...the Rawhide Kid!!
Where is the Rawhide Kid? Using his real name of Johnny Clay, he’s
working at a railroad construction site. Boar Benson, another of
the workers, tries to push him around, but the Kid manages to avoid
The Kid catches the eye of April, the boss’s daughter, who usually
stays away from the work crew. She tells Johnny he seems nicer and
more sensitive than the others. Naturally, Boar figures that this
is his chance to score with the lady. She resists. Johnny objects.
Bull slugs Johnny. Johnny knocks Boar down in two panels and gets
challenged to a gunfight.
A resigned Johnny straps on his six-shooters and faces Boar. Even
though Rawhide lets Boar clear his iron before drawing his own gun,
the Kid easily draws and shoots the gun from Boar’s hand before the
bully can fire. That’s when Marko rides up and declares that the
Kid is his prisoner.
Since the Rawhide Kid already has his gun out, he orders Marko to
hand over his gun belt. Johnny jumps on his trusty steed Nightwind
and makes tracks. Marko, an expert with a rope, prepares to lasso
the fleeing Kid, but April pushes him and the lasso misses Johnny.
Marko is not overly concerned.
During the above confrontation, Johnny admits to April that he is
the infamous Rawhide Kid, but adds:
But I’m not guilty of half the things folks claim! I’ve defended
the law much more’n I’ve broken it!
This strikes me as an admission that maybe the Kid has broken the
law beyond the usual misunderstandings we’ve seen in past stories.
That’s something new and surprisingly adult for a Marvel western.
I’ll be on the lookout for more comments like this as I continue to
reread Rawhide Kid comics.
Marko wasn’t concerned about Rawhide escaping because, prior to the
confrontation, he’d prepared traps along the Kid’s probably escape
route. A huge mirror in the road - and don’t ask me how Marko got
it out there - distracts Johnny and makes him fall from his horse.
Then Rawhide steps into a hidden rope trap and gets hauled up into
the trees upside down.
Marko tries Johnny’s hands and then cuts him down. He’s a bounty
hunter, but he doesn’t like to kill a man if he can avoid it. His
interest is in bringing outlaws to justice.
Rawhide sees if differently. He says Marko is only in it for the
reward money, which, in this case, was $500. Of course, back then,
that was real money.
Marko is emerging as an interesting character. He’s smart and he’s
tough. He may seek reward money, but he seems to have his own code
of conduct. Rawhide doesn’t recognize this in his hunter, but it’s
there for the readers to see.
A mountain lion knocks both Marko and the Kid over a small cliff.
Both men are unconscious. Rawhide recovers first, but he doesn’t
know who he is or what happened to him. He does figure he’s some
kind of prisoner, frees himself from the rope and mounts the loyal
Marko follows the amnesic Rawhide to the next town and challenges
him to a showdown. The Kid is terrified. He can’t even remember
how to draw a gun. Marko isn’t buying the amnesia bit and prepares
to shoot the Kid down. Cut the horse:
Nightwind, hearing the unfamiliar frightened tone in his master’s
voice, senses that the Kid is not himself! Something is amiss!
His human friend has survived countless gunfights...but those times
he was brave and confident! Now he trembles in mortal fear!
Nightwind must not allow him to fight! He must save him...the only
way he can!
Nightwind charges Rawhide and knocks the Kid to the ground. This
second stunning blow restores Johnny’s memory. The showdown ends
with the Kid easily besting Marko and wounding the bounty hunter in
“You licked me fair,” admits Marko. “I won’t bother you again! It
would be against the rules of the game!”
Game? If that’s what you call it mister, I don’t reckon you and I
speak the same language...or that we ever could!
Marko never makes other appearance in a Marvel western, save as an
illusion in a Bill Mantlo-written Rawhide Kid mini-series of 1985.
Marko’s absence was a missed opportunity as I see it. Though the
bounty hunter might not have gone after Rawhide again, he could’ve
gone after Kid Colt. Maybe putting the Rawhide Kid in the position
of having to face Marko again. For that matter, filled with a new
respect for Rawhide, Marko might well have sought the Kid’s help in
going after some real bad hombres. In short, Marko had potential.
It’s a shame it was never realized.
The Rawhide Kid is followed by a house ad advertising Two-Gun Kid
#77 [September 1965] and Kid Colt Outlaw #124 [September 1965]. At
the bottom of the sideways are the names and cities of 25 members
of the MMMS (Merry Marvel Marching Society). I didn’t recognize
any future comics pros among these members.
“Incident at Pecos Pass” (5 pages) is notable for two reasons, the
first being that it’s the last original non-series story that will
appear in The Rawhide Kid or any of the western titles. Starting
next month in the issues of Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt shown in this
month’s ad, the back-up stories will be reprints.
“Incident at Pecos Pass” might as well have been a reprint. It has
the same basic plot as “When the Gunman Come!” in Rawhide Kid #44
[February 1965]. “Pecos Pass” is written and drawn by Sol Brodsky
with inks by Carl Hubbell.
Black Bart Barret and his gang of bank robbers come upon a secluded
farm owned by an elderly couple. The only other person living at
the farm is William, a blonde man with a big blonde walrus mustache
who is staying with the couple while he recovers from...the fever.
This “fever” doesn’t prevent William from splitting logs, but Black
Bart is satisfied the man poses no threat to him and his fellow
owlhoots. Of course, then Barret and his men make the mistake of
bullying the elderly couple.
William hits them with a table and his fists. He grabs a gun and
wounds whatever outlaws are still standing. While he changes into
his own clothes, the older man chastises his wife:
"I’ve been meaning to tell you...you keep calling him William! Gosh,
it must be embarrassin’ to him! He’s known as...Will Bill Hickok!
One of the most famous names in the West!"
And so ends a little known “Incident at Pecos Pass!” Little known
because ol’ Ma and Pa Carson seldom left their ranch, and weren’t
very talkative folks, anyhow! But we, at the Marvel Bullpen, figure
out readers are somethin’ special! And the least we could do was
tell them about it!
Right behind this story is “The Merry Marvel Bullpen Page,” which
offers the Marvel Western t-shirt featuring Kid Colt, Two-Gun Kid
and Rawhide for $1.50...and a Marvel Stationery Kit for a dollar.
The buyers are instructed to add 15 cents per item for postage and
handling. If you were a MMMS member and wrote your number after
your name on the coupon, you would receive a free bonus gift with
your order. Your Marvel Bullpen loved you, baby!
The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page finished the non-
ad content of the issue. Following a plug for the western shirt,
there were three letters. The first suggested that the Rawhide Kid
get a dog. The second asked for Larry Lieber to write both of the
other western comics as well. The third wanted “The Mighty Marvel
Checklist” - which took up half the letters page every issue - to
be omitted from the western comics since it was already appearing
in all the super-hero titles.
Marvel asked for the readers to vote on the Kid getting a pooch and
the checklist going bye-bye. In response to the second letter, it
was announced that Larry would be doing more writing for Marvel’s
western, starting with Kid Colt Outlaw #125, the first meeting of
Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid. I’ve got a copy of that issue coming
my way, so you expect the other kids to make a guest appearance in
a future Rawhide Wednesday column.
Happy trails to you, my friends, until our next Rawhide Wednesday.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella