Once upon a time western comics were all the rage for young readers, and cowboys like Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, Billy The Kid, Roy Rogers and so many others entertained and captured imaginations. In fact besides comic books, westerns also use to rule the box office as well as TV airwaves and cheap paperback novels, and it seemed like every kid wanted to be the cowboy when playing “Cowboy And Indians”. But like all super popular media, it, of course, also had a big fall and has lost its hold on the youth today who seem to prefer video game heroes to those from the old wild west. Growing up, I loved films like Once Upon A Time In the West, Magnificent Seven, Young Guns and Quick And The Dead, not to mention the classic true tales of Billy The Kid, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok! Plus no joke. The Rifleman is one of my all time favorite TV shows, and Lone Ranger was a hero of mine when I was a kid! So while westerns in media even by the time of my youth were not as popular of a genre, they still had their hooks in my entertainment. I mean let’s be honest, many of you readers growing up have played Cowboys and Indians and even looked up to the likes of Roy Rogers or John Wayne. For this update we are going to take a look at a western hero from the Marvel Universe and after looking at all the options, I decided to take a look at Rawhide Kid and his 1985 mini series. So get your spurs on, find a trusty horse and let’s head out to the wild west and see what Marvel has in store for us when it comes to Cowboy heroes. This update will be a quick one and should be a fun one for fans of classic Marvel western heroes.
Some of you younger readers I am sure do not remember the Rawhide Kid as Marvel Comics over the years have not really done much with him besides give him a MAX series and turn him into a raunchy character to try and be edgy in 2003, and then in 2010 he had another mini series put out this time again simply released by Marvel. But before we dive too deep and start the review of Rawhide Kid, I want to share a little of the character’s back story and history with you readers who might be unfamiliar with Rawhide Kid’s slinging ways. As a baby, Johnny Clay had most of his family killed by Indians, and he was left behind as his brothers fled and one was even captured and taken. Ben Bart, a fast Texas Ranger gunslinger, took in the infant Johnny and raised him as his own family on an old ranch, where Johnny at the age of 18 became the fastest gun in the west. One day Johnny heads to town for supplies, and while away, some gunslingers sneak onto the ranch and kill Ben and this sparks Johnny who finds the body to become on a quest of revenge. Once tracking them down and out-dueling them both in a gun fight, Johnny turns his adoptive father’s killers in and decides to change his name to Rawhide Kid and to use his fast shooting skills to help others. And after having it out with an evil ranch owner that leaves the man shot, the Rawhide Kid becomes a wanted man when a sheriff fails to see that the Kid was only saving the day. But even as a wanted man, the Rawhide Kid used his gun skills to help people and to fight crime. Over the years Rawhide Kid has teamed up with the likes of Two-Gun Kid, Kid Colt, Phantom Rider and even Iron Man! This character ran from 1955 -1979 and lasted 151 issues for his first solo run and would come back in 1985 for a four issue mini series. While Rawhide Kid is not a popular Marvel Comic character nowadays, he was one who made his mark for the company and is one that deserves respect for being one heck of an entertaining western comic character. Growing up, I read many of his adventures from comics that my Grandma Brassfield would buy for my brother from garage sales, and can remember enjoying them pretty well but still always preferring the superhero and horror comics. If you like classic western movies and TV shows and also enjoy reading comic books, give Rawhide Kid a chance as the early stuff is lots of fun and holds a real classic feel. Oh and I should also note that Rawhide Kid’s drink of choice is milk, and him asking for it at bars and saloons is a running gag in the series.
Cowboys also made a mark in the world of video games with most modern gamers agreeing that the Red Dead Redemption series is one of the over all best games going! But one of the earliest western games I remember was for the Atari 2600 and was called Outlaw and has you having to outdraw an outlaw in order to score points. And when getting this update together I figured it would be fun to take a small NES Challenge on a western themed game for the Nintendo and decided to settle on Gun.Smoke released in 1985 by Capcom. So I picked January 22, 2019 as the day to play this game and hooked up the RES (Retro-Entertainment System) and was ready to just sit back for a few minutes and just have fun and play this game and see how far I could get. My goal this time around is to not even beat the game but to just replay it after all these years, I want to thank Game Swap Kettering for having the game in stock for me to buy and make this quick play a reality. So after pouring myself a tall glass of water and eating a good meal of home made chicken and dumplings, I set out to take a shot of surviving the 8-bit wild-west! And the game was just as fun as I remember as I just ran around shooting all the baddies in town with my goal being to collect a bounty put onto the head of a criminal. The longer I played the more I enjoyed it, but also the longer I played it my hands became more and more cramped as the game forces you to always move up and you must be dodging and shooting at the same time. Capcom should make an updated version of this game and make it like an alternative to Red Dead Redemption and have the player play as a man on the side of the law whose goal is to capture some of the worst gun slingers the wild west has ever known…just an idea. If you enjoy classic NES games and also like wild west shooters, make sure to check out Gun.Smoke as I think it’s a forgotten gem for that system that is worth your play time.
I am not a big soda drinker, but from time to time I do enjoy a good soft drink, and for those wondering it really is hard to pick between Pepsi or Coke as each I think go well with different types of meals with Coke being the best with Pizza and Pepsi going well with Mexican food. But in October 2018 I must say I had one of the worst sodas I have ever tasted (minus those weird ones like Ranch and PB&J) and it was called “Moxie Original Elixir” and my gosh it had one of the worst after tastes of any soda I have drank as it tasted like cough syrup…it was so gross! So this is just a warning for you cola soda drinkers, stay clear of Moxie unless you have a bad cough cause who knows it might help ya!
While working on this update, I got thinking about the old steakhouse Ponderosa that was really inspired by the old west and flavors of the past as well as the TV show Bonanza. Growing up here in Ohio, we had a few of them around and I can remember that my Grandparents on my Dad’s side really loved eating there. I can remember eating the salad bar and loading up on small steaks and baked potatoes and chatting with my brother about toys, comics, video games and horror movies as we ate. But while they were popular places to eat here for a while, they faded away from the Dayton market and all went out of business with the longest one to hold on being on Airway Road. So I wanted to have a meal at Ponderosa in order to celebrate Rawhide Kid and Marvel Western Comics and to relive a little bit of my youth. The nearest Ponderosa is over an hour away from where I live and is in Hillsboro, and after calling up my pal Josh Weinberg, we hit the rode to have a good lunch at an old staple restaurant for our family growing up. The only downside is that I no longer eat red meat and must find some food I can eat from a place that is a steak house. We hit the road on January 15, 2019 to the good old Ponderosa, and on the drive there we chatted a little about the future of the Wolf Hunter movie series as well as a wrestling and baseball talk. It took a little over an hour to get there, but once we did, the place was pretty epic and from the outside was one of the biggest Ponderosa’s I have ever seen! The setup inside was very nice and clean, and Josh and I decided to eat the salad bar buffet. Our waitress was super cute and looked like she could have been a model or a pop star country singer. I chose water as my drink of choice and during my lunch I had chicken wings, mashed potatoes with two types of gravy, mac & cheese, green beans, ham and chicken noodles. And I must say it was all pretty good with the mac & cheese and chicken wings being the stand out and the most tasty. Over all while the inside was very Texas Ranch looking, the meal was good southern style cooking and flavors. On the ride back we talked lots more about MLB aka the Cincinnati Reds and had a hoot as we spotted in someone’s yard a statue of the Apple Pie Tree from McDonalds. It was worth the drive to eat once more at Ponderosa Steakhouse and over all was a fun cold day in Ohio. Below are pictures I took on that day.
So now that I have my belly filled with some good old Ponderosa food, I think it’s time we sit around the campfire with a cup of coffee and start our look at Marvel Comic western hero The Rawhide Kid and the 1985 mini series I have chosen to cover for this update. Now I want to remind you all that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready readers and friends, let’s review the Wild West adventures of The Kid! Oh and I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this whole mini series in stock.
The Rawhide Kid # 1 ***
Released in 1985 Cover Price .75 Marvel # 1 of 4
The Rawhide Kid is an old man now and is making his way atop Nightwind to town when railroad workers spot him, and the oldest member of the team shares the story of Rawhide Kid being the fastest gun in the west and how he avenged the murder of his adoptive father. After hearing the story, a young city boy on the rail team decides to quit his job to follow Rawhide Kid into town and asks him to train him in gun slinging. Rawhide Kid finds a saloon to relax in as the youngster also enters the bar and hears some of the men talking about the greatest gunslingers of the west and he chimes in Rawhide Kid and points him out to everyone as being the best! The saloon owner refuses to serve Rawhide Kid a good breakfast now as he thinks he is an outlaw and worse as he is about to leave some of the railroad workers have shown up for lunch and bait Rawhide into a massive fist fight that he is winning and is broke up by Sam the town Sheriff and friend of his who takes his old friend to the jail in order to give him a place to rest. That night the City Boy breaks down the wall of the jail to “free” Rawhide Kid who was not even locked up, and this makes the town go crazy as they all start firing at him and his new young goofy friend! But Rawhide Kids still keeps them safe and the Sheriff is able to calm the towns people down, as the City Boy comes to learn that the Rawhide Kid is really in town to put a flower on a grave of a young kid he gunned down in the city many years back.
This Marvel Western Comic is lots of fun and this first issue was a fantastic read to kick off a mini series as it blends his old adventures and his current story really well and brings new readers up-to-date on who the character is and was. The plot of this issue has the Rawhide Kid now an old man who returns to a town that he killed a young gun slinger in and soon finds that the town dislikes him and look at him as an outlaw, that his friend is now the town Sheriff and he also has a young city boy who idolizes him and wants to learn to become a gun slinger like him. Rawhide Kid is an aged fast draw gun slinger who is a man that is haunted by his past as he has taken so many lives with his guns. Plus I like that even though he is an old man he don’t take guff from people who want to try and test him and his legend. I also like that he just wants to avoid trouble and that all he really wanted to do in town is have some ham, eggs, bread and of course a glass of milk before visiting the grave. The City Boy is a young man who gets wrapped up in the stories of how great Rawhide Kid is and decides that by being trained by him will lead him closer to fame and fortune instead of working hard for his money. While he is a good kid, he also is a screw up and causes Rawhide Kid lots of issues with the locals in this issue. The townspeople are all mostly judgmental who hate Rawhide Kid due to old wanted posters that use to hang, forgetting that he was the one who gunned down a madman who killed many of the townsfolk many years back. Sheriff Sam is the only one who seems to know that Rawhide is a good man and he has to be the voice of reason when it comes to them getting trigger happy. And Nightwind is still the same old fast horse long time readers love. It’s great to see that Rawhide’s trusty horse is still alive and helping his owner to get out of tough spots. The comic does a great job of building up a good story that shows our hero is an aging man who still is as skilled as he was in his youth as the world around him is changing and his good deeds are out shined by damning words from the past. The cover is great and has a real classic look and the interior art is done by the iconic Herb Trimpe who is one of my favorite classic Marvel artists. I am surprised on how much I enjoyed this issue, and I am very much looking forward to reading what’s to come in issue two. So with that let’s see what Rawhide Kid gets up to in his next adventure.
The Rawhide Kid # 2 ***
Released in 1985 Cover Price .75 Marvel # 2 of 4
Rawhide Kid and City Boy board a train to get out of town and to check one of Rawhide’s bank accounts in a nearby town as he is owned money from a writer who has been writing dime store books about Rawhide Kid’s past adventures as well as tall tales about him and who has not paid! While on the train City Boy gets real nervous when two men approach and even tries to shoot them with a gun he has hidden in his boot causing panic on the train and for Rawhide Kid to also be the target of the two men who turn out to be the law as City Boy is a wanted man! Rawhide Kid and City Boy escape the train and the law as City Boy shares his story of how he accidentally murdered his old boss in Chicago defending the honor of his sister. The pair find an old abandoned shack and spend the night there only to wake up and find that they are in the practice area of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show! And after some talk Rawhide Kid joins the cast of his traveling road show as does City Boy. While working for the show he runs into the writer who he makes pay him all the money owed and also runs into Annie Oakley who was an old fling of his. But the lawmen also show up and he and City Boy must race off as Oakley and the rest of the crew run distraction.
This second issue has Rawhide Kid once more being on the wrong side of the law thanks to his new student City Boy. We find out his real name is Jeff Packard and he is wanted for murder back in Chicago of a slaughterhouse owner who employed him and his sister. Our plot of the issue has two main storylines with one being City Boy and his running ways from the two officers out to get him and the other is Rawhide Kid who has been ripped off by a writer who owes him lots of back pay money for books he wrote about the living legend. Rawhide Kid is very noble and not only wants what’s owed to him but also wants to teach and protect him from the law who wants to take them both in. Jeff Packard aka City Boy is a young man who still has the idea of being a gunslinger will bring him money and tells a tale of why he is wanted in Chicago that involves a man using and abusing his sister, and when thinking about it, I am not sure I believe him and I think he killed the man in a botch theft as City Boy is very much into money and is saying this in order to get the help of Rawhide Kid to escape the law. What really is cool about this issue is the fact they add in real Wild West people like Wild Bill Cody and Annie Oakley and have them at the Wild West Show! Makes me hope that more real cowboys show up in this mini series! The over all feel of this issue is the great chase as our heroes spend the issue on the run from the law who are outclassed by the fast and adventures style of Rawhide Kid who always is one step ahead of them. The cover for this issue is great and holds a classic western comic look and once more Herb did the interior and is fantastic. Over all this second issue is, as good as the original and I cannot wait to see what issue 3 has in store.
The Rawhide Kid # 3 ***
Released in 1985 Cover Price .75 Marvel # 3 of 4
Rawhide Kid and City Boy have made camp outside of a town were Rawhide is teaching him how to be fast with a pair of six shooters. Meanwhile the law has hired a former slave now turned bounty hunter to bring in the pair of “fugitives”. While at the camp, Rawhide Kid goes for a quick swim as City Boy goes to make breakfast and is attacked by the law and Bounty Hunter who informs him that his sister is fine and is now to be married off, but thanks to Rawhide Kid and Nightwind, they are able to free City Boy and they ride off to find shelter and a place to hide and regroup in the near by town. Once in town they find that it is made up of former slaves and all the males have been killed and the women and children are hiding in the church and tell Rawhide kid that a hate group killed all the males and are returning for them all because they want the town cause oil has been discovered under it. The Bounty Hunter leaves the law behind and tracks his bounties down to the same town. Once the Bounty Hunter finds them in the church a showdown is about to happen until the hate group shows up and they have to join forces in order to save the locals as well as themselves. In the end the good guys win and kill and chase off the hate mongers and the Bounty Hunter drops out of turning them in and decides to stay in the town and help them rebuild and protect them from others trying to steal the oil. Rawhide Kid and City Boy ride off still on the run but also as heroes.
Wow this is a great issue and shows that Rawhide Kid is a good man who does what’s right and is also teaching City Boy the same morals. This issue has Rawhide and City Boy being hunted down by a skillful Bounty Hunter who ends up joining with his bounties in order to protect a town that is being slaughtered by a group of hate and greed filled men. Rawhide Kid is still a man trying to avoid his legend as he knows that much of it was made up by writers and storytellers, and while some think he is an outlaw, he is really a man who does the right thing and even risks his own life to save others. He also has zero tolerance for those who hate due to skin color and has no issues standing up for what he thinks is right and putting haters in their place or even six feet under. So I have to say I was wrong about City Boy as it looks like he was telling the truth about killing the man over his sister, and he in this issue is learning not only to be fast with a gun but also how to be a better person and to help others. The lawmen are desperate in this issue and go looking for help to capture their “outlaws” by hiring a bounty hunter and once more when they go for the arrest they fail. The Bounty Hunter is a former slave who also fought in the civil war and is now super skilled with a gun and always gets his man and seems very happy to be hired to take down a legend like Rawhide Kid, and in the end he learns that he needs to also look at valuing innocent human life and not just look at all people as dollar signs. This issue really does take a look at racism and does it in your normal Marvel Comics way and shows that they tackled all types of issues in their comics. One of my favorite moments in this issue is when the Bounty Hunter tricks members of the hate group into a barn and traps them inside and burns them alive…very brutal! The cover for this issue is great and showcases true comic western action and interiors is once more done by Herb and is fantastic! With the next issue being the final in the series, I am wondering how this will all wrap up and if City Boy will be reunited with his sister and if Rawhide Kid will find the retirement he so badly wants. Well let’s not delay and see what issue four has in store for our cowboy hero.
The Rawhide Kid # 4 ***
Released in 1985 Cover Price .75 Marvel # 4 of 4
Rawhide Kid has a terrible nightmare about having to save a faceless woman from a pack of skull faced baddies who all represent death while the town around them burns! City Boy is startled but warns him that it sounds like one of the tall tales from one of the dime novels written about him and they go back to bed after Rawhide burns the book in the campfire. The next day they ride into town and Rawhide Kid finds it’s the same town from his dreams and after City Boy goes to feed the horses a woman runs to Rawhide asking for help and out comes a pack of men who are the law looking for City Boy! Rawhide Kid tells the lady to warn City Boy to leave town and out smarts and moves the lawmen who warn him they will never give up till they get him! Rawhide Kid finds City Boy who is sick of running and is going to stand his ground against the lawmen and even sucker punches and knocks out Rawhide Kid who tried to talk him out of fighting. When Rawhide Kid comes to he finds that City Boy has been shot dead by the Lawmen and in a dazed state he refights the ghosts of his past leaving them once more dead. When he comes to he finds that he has killed all the lawmen who killed his new friend and this also allows him to bury his past and embrace his legend and to move on in what’s left of his life into the sunset.
This fourth and final issue in the mini series brings together all the stories that ran through it and gives a closing to Rawhide Kid who just wanted to retire and get away from his legend. The plot of this issue has Rawhide’s nightmare of a burning town with people trying to kill him coming to life and while he is able to face his inner demons and let go of his past, he also loses his new friend City Boy in the process. Rawhide Kid is an old man who has a bad rep with some people and others view him as a hero…and all he really wants is to be left alone and enjoy the time he has left on this world without having to fear that some upcoming gunslinger wants to put a bullet through him. The thing about Rawhide is that he is very loyal to his friends as well as to his morals of what he finds right, and because of this as reader I found myself feeling bad for him as trouble always seems to find him. In other words Rawhide Kid is a western hero who has baggage and guilt for those he has had to gun down in the past and would love to just disappear and never shot another person again. Poor City Boy I really did judge him all wrong, and he is no liar or coward in fact he is a young man who has warped views on how to be a good guy and what it means to be a true gunslinger, but means well. It’s crazy that in this issue he is gunned down and his body is just left on the back of his own horse for the town to see…no wonder Rawhide Kid has to go all quick shot on some lawmen ass! The major downside to City Boy dying is that he does not get to see his sister before he died. The lawman in this issue are very cold blooded and seem to get joy in trying to gun down the “outlaws” and are proud the shot and killed a young man who only killed to protect his sister. But while they are cocky at first, they all end up dead when they piss off Rawhide Kid who out classed them and leaves them all dead in the dusty streets. The end gun fight between the lawmen and Rawhide Kid is well down as he is still dazed from being knocked out by a sucker punch and envisions old baddies he has killed as well as loved ones he has lost, and with each re-kill or re-lose he is letting go of his past that haunts him. This mini series is great and really shows that Marvel has always made the best western themed comics with some of the most interesting original characters. The cover for this issue holds a little horror element to it and is very eye catching and as I have said before Herb Trimpe’s interior art is amazing! If you like westerns, cowboys and classic Marvel Comics check out this mini series!
So while Marvel Comics has left the Wild West far behind and have not had an ongoing series for decades their ones from the past live on for readers to discover at their local comic shops as well as conventions. I would recommend tracking down such titles as Kid Colt Outlaw, Two-Gun Kid and of course Rawhide Kid if you enjoy old western films and comics as they are really entertaining reads. For our next update we are going to stay in the world of Marvel and take a look at one of their most popular Superheroes The Amazing Spider-Man…but there is a twist as we will be looking at his Power Records Book and Record release that features an original story! So until next time cowboys and cowgirls, read a comic or three, watch a classic western film or two and as always support your Local Horror Host! See next update for a web slinging good time!