Wednesday, November 23, 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 92nd installment in that series.
The Rawhide Kid #106 [December 1972] was pencilled by Larry Lieber, who wrote and penciled “The Range Riders” (14 pages). At the Grand Comics Database, comics art detective Nick Caputo opines the inker is either Jack Abel or George Roussos. I can’t identify which, but Roussos is the credited inker of the interior tale. After this one, only seven more new Rawhide stories will appear before the series  goes entirely reprint.


Two strangers come to town. One is the Rawhide Kid, newly arrived to yet another territory where he’s not a wanted man. The other is, well, as the Kid notices:

That’s a mighty cute filly who just got off the stage!

Before the first page is over, the Kid has saved the filly from an assassination attempt. She’s Laura Prescott, who has inherited the cattle ranch from her murdered uncle. The gunman escapes before the Kid can reach the hotel room from which he fired.

Rawhide and the sheriff have words. The lawman throws shade at the Kid over his reputation. The Kid is somewhat sarcastic when he asks the sheriff if he’s found “the hombre who murdered Miss Prescott’s uncle.”

Ranch foreman Ed Tanner is there to take Laura to her ranch. When the young woman offers Rawhide a job, the Kid accepts. Tanner isn’t happy about this, but Miss Prescott won’t be swayed.

Cut to mustache-twirling bad guy Bart Calhoun, who ordered the hit on Laura, just as he had her uncle murdered. He wants the Prescott ranch no matter what it takes, but doesn’t reveal why he wants it.

He rides over to the spread and offers Laura twice what the place is worth. She loves the ranch and refuses to sell.

Calhoun’s subsequent veiled threat against Laura is interrupted by the Rawhide Kid. Calhoun backs down and rides off.

That night, Calhoun meets with Ed Tanner, who has been working with him all along. The plan is to rustle part of the Prescott herd and call in all the wranglers to fight them off. The rest of the herd will be left unprotected.

Calhoun’s plan works. While the Prescott men are protecting part of the herd, his other rustlers make off with forty cows.

The Rawhide Kid rides after them and tries to turn the herd around. The rustlers open fire on him. A shot grazes him and knocks him off his horse. He manages to avoid being trampled. As soon as the dust clears, the rustlers find out how deadly the Kid can be. Two shots and two less Calhoun gunslicks.

Calhoun and his men kidnap Laura. Tanner stays behind to lead the Kid into a trap. The trap is sprung, the Kid is taken and we learn why Calhoun wants the ranch. After Laura is dead, he plans to buy the land dirt cheap at public auction...and sell it to the railroad when they start laying track. Sounds like someone’s been doing the Old West equivalent of insider trading.

Things look bad for Laura and the Kid, until the sheriff opens fire on Calhoun and his men. The Kid gets to his guns and things are now looking bad for the owlhoots.

The sheriff had more on the ball than Rawhide realizes. He’d been staking out Calhoun and his gang, just waiting to get the goods on them.

The sheriff and the Kid get the gang, but Calhoun hightails it out of there. The Kid catches him and beats the crap out of him with a couple well-placed punches:

It never fails! When their heart’s made of stone...their jaw’s made of glass!

That could be one of the Phantom’s old jungle sayings.

The Kid returns to the ranch to say farewell to Laura. He realizes that, when word gets out that he beat Calhoun and his men, every fast gun in the territory will be itching to take him on. He clears out to avoid more bloodshed:

Maybe over the next horizon, we’ll find peace, quiet and a chance to grow old!


“The Range Riders” is a terrific story. It’s action-packed with a nice human drama center. The sheriff emerges as a pretty intriguing character in his handful of panels. If I were writing new Rawhide Kid stories - and, gee whiz, would I love that - I’d probably use the lawman again.

“With Guns Slung Low” is this issue reprint. The six-page tale was drawn by George Tuska and originally appeared in Western Outlaws #6  [December 1954}.


Clay Brand is a feared gunslinger. As a younger man, he rode with such outlaws as the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang and others. When the Gang was wiped out, Brand disappeared for a while and became a gun for hire. From time to time, he took ranch jobs under assumed names. However, inevitably, someone would recognize him and there would gunplay. Even when an employer didn’t care what Brand had been and wanted him to stay, Clay would move on. He knew other gunslingers would come looking for him.

Now 30, Brand’s path takes him to Carson City, “one of those kind of towns [where] the toughs [are] on one side of the street and the decent folks on the other.” When the town sheriff takes to take him in, Brand disarms the lawman without hurting him. This draws the attention of Talas Pride, a powerful man and one of the leaders of the decent citizens. Or so it seems.

Pride wants to hire Brand to be the new marshal of Carson City and drive out the toughs. He’ll even pay Brand a handsome bonus. But he has an ulterior motive:

Because once you sweep out the toughs, I’m taking over the saloons myself! The railroad’s going to come through here and make this a cattle shipping point. I’ll make a fortune.

Brand accepts the job. The daughter of the sheriff slaps him across the face. The townspeople are terrified of him. But he gets the job done. Then Clay does the unexpected.

He gives the badge back to the old sheriff:

Sheriff, I cleaned up your town! I did it for you, and the other decent folks like you! I’m riding out now!

The sheriff is surprised:

I reckon most of us had you wrong, son! A man can change!
Talas Pride ain’t happy that Brand has called their deal off. The big man calls Clay a dirty polecat and says that, if Brand wasn’t wearing those guns, he would give him what-for. Okay, not in those precise words, but you get the idea.

Clay beats Talas to a fair-thee-well. Then he tells Pride to get on his horse, ride away and don’t come back.

The sheriff says Clay should stay in Carson City. The town would be proud to have him as marshal and a citizen. The fear has left the eyes of the townspeople. This could be Brand’s chance to honestly start over. Except...

A would-be gunslinger calls Clay out. Brand shoots the gun out of the man’s hand. He realizes this is how it will always be. He won’t bring that to these good people.

So Clay Brand rode away from Carson City and disappeared into the legends of the west! Rumor placed him in many states during the passing years! Wherever gunsmoke floated, it was said that he had passed! But the last time he was definitely seen was the day he rode out of Carson City...


Now that’s one heck of a story, one of the best non-series stories to appear in Marvel’s western comic books. Like so many of Larry Lieber’s Rawhide Kid works, it really deserves to be reprinted for a new audience.

Next is the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page with “Stan’s Soapbox” as the lead item. Stan Lee uses the space to plug two projects of his own. The first is Origins of Marvel Comics, which he says will cost a buck. When it finally came out in 1974, it cost $5.95. The other is Monster Madness, which, when it came out, would consist of lots of big photos from monster movies with Stan writing humorous word balloons on them. Corny, yeah, but I always got a kick out of it. I even ended up working with Stan on the third and final issue of the title.

The second item welcomes Steve Gerber to Marvel. Gerber adds some additional dialogue to Shanna the She-Devil, helps Roy Thomas and Steve Englehart with various editorial duties, and teams with Rich Buckler for a Man-Thing story in Fear #11. Gerber will remain the regular writer on Man-Thing with the solitary exception of a Man-Thing story written by me for Monsters Unleashed. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of how I came to be asked to write that tale.

Supernatural Thrillers is still being called Gothic Thrillers in the next item, which plugs the Roy Thomas/Marie Severin adaptation of Theodore Sturgeon’s “It!” and mentions the “eye-popping cover” by Jim Steranko. The item adds that Steranko will be doing covers for several Marvel comics, including Doc Savage.

The final item plugs the adaptation of Robert Bloch’s “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” by Ron Goulart and Gil Kane. It runs in Journey into Mystery and it’s a classic!

The “Mighty Marvel Checklist” lists two-dozen issues, among them Fantastic Four #129 (The Human Torch quits!), Thor #206 (in battle with the Absorbing Man), Captain America #156 (Captain America vs. Captain America) and the now-monthly Hero for Hire #4

Running across the bottom of the page is an ad for the forthcoming Frankenstein comic with a spot illustration by Mike Ploog.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page had three missives from readers. Jimmy Peavley of Richmond, Kentucky collects all the Marvel westerns. He wanted to see more of the Gunhawks and was told they have their own mag. Except I think he was probably thinking of the Gunhawk (singular) who appeared in Western Gunfighters during the brief period when that title had new material.

Referring to issue #102, Peavley also thought Rawhide should have set the spoiled Cathy Cameron over his knees and whipped her. The anonymous letters answerer said Cathy’s father probably did that to her. I’m thinking this whole spanking conversation makes me pretty uncomfortable.

Richard “the Kid” Roder of Pine Plains, New York didn’t like that most of the Marvel western heroes have “Kid” in their names...and requested new names for them. Like Rawhide Kid could become...the Gunner. Other suggestions:

Outlaw Kid could become...the Bandit or the Outlaw.

Two-Gun Kid could become...Gunman.

Western Kid could become...Mr. West or Mr. Wild West.

The letter answerer responded that the existing names were already established and changing them would confuse readers.

Finally, Mike Francis of Manhattan Beach, California praised Marvel Spotlight #5 with the new motorcycle-riding Ghost Rider, but added that he wanted to see the horse-riding Ghost Rider return. Marvel had answered this request before and repeated that answer: Lincoln Slade (the latest western Ghost Rider) would return, but they did not know when.

That’s it for this installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow with something appropriate for Thanksgiving. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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