Wednesday, May 1, 2013
RAWHIDE WEDNESDAY 40
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 was a sophomore in high school when The Rawhide Kid #55 [December
1966] hit the newsstands. The Larry Lieber cover shows our young
hero battling ten men...and this is in a county where there are no
warrants for his arrest.
“The Plunderers!” (17 pages) is written and drawn by Lieber with
inking by Vince Colletta. The Owens family - a farmer, his lovely
daughter and his younger son - get the drop on the Rawhide Kid as
the Kid sleeps. The family figures the reward on the Kid will keep
them from losing their spread. Since Rawhide doesn’t want to harm
“an innocent, law-abiding family,” he doesn’t resist.
Cutthroat landowner Gregory Kane and his goons don’t feel the same
way. Kane coverts the Owens spread. He figures his men can rough
up the farmer and keep him from collecting the reward while blaming
the assault on “pards of the Rawhide Kid.”
Things don’t work out as anyone planned. Kane’s men beat up Owens,
but, as there’s no warrant for Rawhide in the county, the sheriff
must release the Kid. But, before his release, the Kid sees Kane’s
goons lying in wait for Owens. He knows someone’s out to harm that
Rawhide reaches the badly beaten Owens, only to be mistaken for the
man behind the attack. He fights his way clear of the townspeople
and without drawing his guns:
“Sure, I’m too scared to slap leather...scared I might hurt some
well-meaning hardheads who wouldn’t stand a chance against me in a
Meanwhile, Kane no longer cares if Owens gets reward money or not.
The town believes Rawhide has it in for the farmer and, if anything
happens to Owens and his family, it would be blamed on the Kid and
his non-existent pards. Kane and his crew mount up for some night-
riding and violence.
Rawhide reaches the Owens farm first. After some initial mistrust,
the family realizes he’s on their side and that Kane is most likely
behind the attacks. The Kid, outlaw-trained to hear sounds in the
night, hears the approach of the attackers. In the ensuing fight,
Rawhide takes down Kane’s men. However, Kane grabs the daughter as
a hostage and makes for his own spread.
Kane plans to ambush Rawhide in his cellar, the cellar where he has
a caged puma. I didn’t see that coming, but Kane explains it all
to his captive:
Ah, you’ve noticed my little pet! A deadly and cunning puma that I
myself captured! It amused me to imprison so strong a creature!
For, by humbling that mighty beast, I proved my own power!
Yeah, that’s gonna end well.
The Kid knows he’s heading into an ambush, but, even in darkness,
his gun skills are far greater than Kane’s. Desperate, Kane opens
the puma’s cage and releases the beast to attack Rawhide. The Kid
uses a rafter to swing over the puma’s claws. But then the beast
charges Kane who spends his final thoughts sussing out the folly of
T-the cat is turning toward me! The hatred in his eyes...the thirst
for revenge against the human who captured him...
Rawhide shoots the puma, but too late to save Kane. The story ends
with Owens telling him the bank has agreed to extend their note on
the farm and they will get to keep it. The daughter suggests the
Kid stay on, since the law isn’t after hum in these parts. But the
Kid knows better:
I know...but I found other enemies here just as dangerous–-the fear
and hatred of suspicious townsfolk. So I’m riding’ on! Maybe peace
and quiet are waitin’ for me beyond the next rise...or around the
next bend! Who can tell?
There’s some cool stuff in this story. The ordinary family getting
the drop on the Rawhide Kid is surprising and yet very believable.
The fear and suspicion of the townspeople is played well. Perhaps
the puma is little crazy, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying this
story. My pal Larry knew how to spin a yarn!
This issue’s non-series story is a reprint from The Rawhide Kid #17
[August 1960], which was the issue in which Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
introduced the Johnny Bart/Clay version of the title hero. Here’s
what I wrote about this story in the very first installment of our
“Rawhide Wednesday” series.
“With Gun in Hand!,” the fourth comics story in the issue, is not
signed. Don Heck is definitely the artist. Stan Lee is credited
as the writer by the Grand Comics Database.
This non-series tale has an element that occurs many times in the
Marvel westerns. There are variations, but I think of them as the
“it takes a real man...” stories. The heroes can be real men who
don’t carry guns, who stay on the right side of the law, who don’t
go looking for fights, who make a personal sacrifice, who are just
plain smarter than the badmen they face.
In this instance, two cousins have very different attitudes about
how to live their lives. One is the fastest gun in the region, the
other doesn’t even carry a gun. After being challenged by trigger-
happy morons wherever he goes, the armed cousin pretends to lose a
gunfight and abandons his guns:
No one’s interested in fightin’ an unarmed man, so I reckon we both
got a heap of livin’ to do from now on!”
The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page follows the comics stories in
this issue. The lead item announces Gene Colan as the new regular
artist on Daredevil and teases that this month’s Sub-Mariner strip
in Tales to Astonish is by a “new Bullpen luminary.” That artist
turns out to be Jerry Grandenetti with inks by Bill Everett. It’ll
be a one-issue gig. With the next issue of TTA, Everett commences
a several-issue run as both penciller and inker of the Sub-Mariner
feature. In other items...
New York’s WOR-TV is promoting the Marvel Super-Hero cartoon show.
The summer annuals are “probably” sold out by now, but Marvel fans
should look for them and consider themselves lucky if they actually
find them. Stan Lee loves Everett’s work on the Doc Strange strip
in Strange Tales so much that he wrote the latest episode himself.
Lee and Everett would do one more Strange story together and then
Marie Severin would take over the artistic reigns.
The Marvel suits must have been feeling left out because the page
has a long item mentioning publisher Martin Goodman, merchandising
master Chip Goodman and others.
The final “news” item teases a Sub-Mariner/Hulk battle in Tales to
Astonish, which the two characters share. It asks readers to tell
Marvel who should draw such an epic encounter. The fight finally
happens in Tales to Astonish #100 [February 1968] with pencil art
by Marie Severin and inks by Dan Adkins.
Just under a third of the Bullpen page goes to “The Mighty Marvel
Checklist.” Fantastic Four #87 features Doctor Doom and the Silver
Surfer. Marvel is “...printing thousands of extra copies for this,
possibly the greatest single issue of all!”
In Amazing Spider-Man #44, we learn the origin of the Rhino. When
a daddy rhino and a mommy rhino love each other very much...
In Tales of Suspense #84, Captain America goes one-to-one with the
Super-Adaptoid. Marvel assures us that this story is “pure Kirby-
esque magic!” Like we didn’t already know that.
The page also lists 26 more Merry Marvel Marching Society members,
none of whose names are familiar to me. I keep hoping to spot some
future pros in these lists.
The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page closes the issue.
Judy Horn of Fort Worth, Texas wants a bigger role for Nightwind,
the Kid’s trusty horse. R. Pathmanattan sends praise from Kuantan,
Peter Caldwell of Minneapolis, Minnesota names Rawhide Kid as “the
only really original western mag put out by a major publisher
today.” John Fisher of St. Anthony, Iowa thinks the Acrobat from
issue #53 is the neatest villain he’s ever seen. He also wants to
see the Scorpion and the Red Raven return. I miss letter columns
like this one.
Come back next Wednesday for more western thrills with the Rawhide
Kid. I’ll be here tomorrow with some other stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella