Wednesday, July 27, 2016

UPDATES IN THE NAME OF SANITY

I have to move some stuff around to keep myself sane through the weekend.

TONY ISABELLA'S BLOGGY THING is on hiatus until Monday, August 1, which is when I'll start posting the first of my three-part "Sharkpocalypse" series. I'll be reviewing all six of the movies premiere on the Syfy Channel this week: Atomic Shark, Dam Sharks. Ice Sharks, Planet of the Sharks, Ozark Sharks and, of course, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. Those columns will be followed by multi-part convention reports on G-Fest, PulpFest and Monsterfest Mania. However, depending on my mood, I might write some other bloggy things to go between these multi-part efforts. My pile of comics and books to review is starting to look like the world's most dangerous Jenga game.

Between now and the end of next week, I also hope to answer all the e-mails and other messages that have been sitting in my various "in" boxes far too long. I also hope to finish a couple other projects by mid-August. I thank you for your patience.

There may be some other announcements coming in August. Life is both challenging and exciting for me these days.

See you soon.

Tony Isabella

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 83

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 83rd installment in that series. 
 
The Rawhide Kid #97 [March 1971] has a cover drawn by Larry Lieber with Bill Everett inks. Inside the issue, Lieber’s back writing and penciling “The Young Gun” (14 pages) with inks by George Roussos. With the exception of just one more fill-in story by Gary Friedrich and Dick Ayers, the Lieber/Lieber/Roussos team will be the regular team for all the remaining new Rawhide Kid stories to run in this title.

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The Rawhide Kid is getting a shave in a small town. This moment of relaxation is shattered when inconsiderate outlaws loudly rob the bank across the street.

Grabbing his hat and a towel to wipe off the shaving cream from his face, the Kid manages to unhorse one of the bank robbers and take him prisoner. He is amazed to see his captive is a young boy. The other outlaws stymie a pursuing posse by dynamiting and blocking a mountain pass.  

Back in town, Danny Murdock, the littlest bank robber, refuses to talk to the sheriff. The Kid asks to talk to him alone:

Since I’m a gunhawk who’s wanted in almost every neck of the woods but this, he might open up to me!

No such luck. The defiant Danny is certain the gang, led by brother Clay, won’t let him rot in jail. He says they will bust him out. Just you wait and see. To which Rawhide responds:

If you do escape, you’ll be a fugitive from justice, a wanted man, the target of every tin star and bounty hunter in the territory! And that’s no picnic, boy! I know!

Clay comes up with a plan to get Danny out of jail. The gang takes a nice older couple hostage and send an emissary to town. If Danny isn’t released, the old folks have had it. At the first sign of a posse, they’ll be killed. The sheriff has two hours to comply with Murdock’s demand.

Minutes later, riding alone, “Danny” is on his way to the hostage situation. But it’s really Rawhide wearing the youngster’s clothes. He gets the drop on the outlaws and dispatches two of them before he is shot from behind. Figuring a posse must be right behind the Kid, Clay and his gang take off without killing the old couple or realizing the bullet just grazed Rawhide’s head. The outlaws head for their hide-out so Clay can think of another plan to free Danny.

Danny won’t tell Rawhide and the sheriff where the hide-out is, so the Kid comes up with another plan. An unseen “friend” hands Danny a gun through his cell window and tells the boy his horse will be waiting for him in the alley.

Armed and not asking any questions, Danny forces the sheriff to let him out of the cell. He locks up the sheriff and takes off. Which is when we learn Rawhide’s plan. He’ll give Danny a head start and then set out after him. The sheriff is skeptical:

This better go right or I’ve had it as sheriff! Towns don’t take kindly to lawmen who deliberately let their prisoners escape!

Rawhide’s plan has a psychological side to it:

The only way to straighten Danny out is to let him experience a fugitive’s life! The life of a man hunted like an animal and constantly on the run!

The lesson begins. When Danny takes a lunch break, cooking a meal over a fire, Rawhide shoots the meal out of the boy’s hands. Danny jumps on his horse and flees. He’s not anxious to tangle with the Kid. Miles of relentless pursuit follow with Danny thinking he has lost his pursuer only to have a shot from afar narrowly miss him.

Finally, the exhausted Danny believes he’s lost Rawhide and heads for the gang’s hide-out. Clay figures out that this was the Kid’s plan and sets up an ambush. Which Rawhide was totally expecting on account of you don’t get your own comic book if you’re not thinking several panels ahead of the bad guys. Outlaws tumble from the rocks as Rawhide shoots them down.

Clay drops his guns rather than face the Kid. That’s when Danny’s lesson kicks into high gear.

CLAY: N-no! Don’t shoot! I give up! I’m droppin’ muh gun! There! See?!

KID: Why should that matter to me? You must’ve gunned down scores of unarmed men! But I’ll give you a chance anyway! Pick up your iron! Go on...pick it up!

CLAY: N-no! I won’t fight yuh! Yore too fast! You’ll kill me! I don’t wanna die! (Sob) I wanna live...live...

KID: Say it louder! I want Danny to hear you! I want him to see what a gunslick is really like...when he’s stripped of all his bravado and bluster!

KID (to Danny): Do you want to end up that way...trembling before a gun that’s faster than yours?

DANNY: No! I thought that outlawin’ was great...but yuh sure showed me different! It’s being hunted and on the run and always scared. I’m quittin’ right now! I’m gonna turn myself in to the law and take my medicine!

Okay, technically, Danny is not turning himself in. He and Clay are being brought in by the Kid. But Rawhide lets that slide. He tells Danny the judge will take the boy’s youth into account and go easy on him:

And afterwards, you’ll be a free man for the rest of your life!

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Though “The Young Gun” gets a little wordy in places, it’s still a solid tale. Sort of a Wild West afternoon special. It was reprinted in Rawhide Kid #149 [January 1979] with a new cover by Gene Colan and Bob McLeod. Here’s the cover of the reprint:
                                                                           

The lead story is followed by “The Swap!” (5 pages), a non-series tale by Stan Lee with art by Paul Reinman. This is a reprint from Two Gun Kid #59 [April 1961].

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Old Charlie Duff, prospector and Gabby Hayes cosplayer, runs into town shouting that he struck gold. Con man Cal Yates tells Charlie that his gold strike is chicken feed compared to Cal's own find:

My land’s got oil on it! Enuff to float the whole danged state of Texas!
Charlie is depressed:

I always been unlucky! Even when I make a strike, someone makes a better one, so no own cares about mine!

Charlie asks Yates to swap land with him. Yates says he’d be plump loco to do it. Charlie points out that Yates is already rich, but that Charlie is an old man with his first strike. He’d like it to be the biggest strike anyone ever made.

The “kindly” Yates agrees to the swap as a favor to old Charlie on account of he likes him. The townspeople think Cal is a bigger man than they ever gave him credit for. But...

Yates gloats to his “friend” Hank that this was the biggest swindle of his career. His land is worthless and now he owns a gold mine. Except...

It’s fool’s gold. You see where this is going, right?

Charlie strikes oil on that worthless land. It’s the biggest gusher ever seen in the state. He’s a millionaire.

Some time later, Hank takes Yates to Cal's former property, which has several oil wells reaching to the sky.

There it is, Yates, your old piece of land! Got any more smart swindles you’d like to make?

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There is no letters column, Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page or house ads in this issue. But it does have a second non-series story from The Ringo Kid Western #17 (April 1957].

Drawn by Doug Wildey, “The Payoff!” (4 pages) is so thin of plot it can be summed up in one line, which I have cribbed from the Grand Comics Database entry on the story...

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A sheriff hides in a money chest to surprise stagecoach robbers.

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That’s all for this week’s edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TONY'S TIPS #167

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder: Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump by G.B. Trudeau; Ms. Marvel; and Planet Comics Volume Eight, reprinting Planet Comics #30-35 [May 1944 to March 1945]!

EUCLID PUBLIC LIBRARY (August 3)

Following this weekend’s Monsterfest Mania, my next appearance will be at the Euclid Public Library, 631 East 222nd Street in Euclid, Ohio on Wednesday, August 3, at 6:30 pm. I’ll be speaking to that library’s comic book club, talking about my life-long love of and 44-year career in comics, as well as answering questions on comics and related subjects.

Long-time readers of my writings, both here and in Comics Buyer’s Guide, know I’m a big fan of libraries and librarians. Such public institutions and the good people who work in them are often on the front lines when the backwards forces of repression try to restrict your access to and right to read what you deem fit for yourself and your children. Librarians are true heroes and libraries are their halls of justice!

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I continue to make good use of my local Medina library and the vast ClevNet organization of which it is a part. For those of you who’ve not yet heard me gush about this system, here’s out it works:

ClevNet is a organization of around a hundred area libraries. If I want a book or a movie, I can go to my online account, check if the item is available and, if it is available, request it. The item is then sent to my local library, which calls me to let me know it’s waiting for me and that I have a five days to come and get it. This easy system allows me to read and watch hundreds of books and DVDs every year. Many of the items I review here and elsewhere came from my local library.

Borrowing books and movies from the library saves me money, but it also costs me money...beyond supporting the library with my taxes. A few dozen times a year, after I’ve read a book or watched a DVD, I’ve decided to purchase a copy of same for my home library.

Among the most recent library items I’ve read have been a police procedural mystery, a non-fiction book about a nearly forgotten branch of mass market paperback publishing of the 1960s and the second volume of a very strange manga series.

Cue the reviews...
                                                                                 

Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo [Minotaur Books; $26.99] is the latest novel in her Kate Burkholder series. Burkholder, who was once a member of an Amish community in Ohio, is now Chief of Police of the Painters Mill township. Over the course of several books, she has been able to reestablish ties with members of her family and find love with State Agent John Tomasetti, a fellow cop. She’s happy in her life, but she’s always a cop. When her background makes her the perfect person for an undercover mission in New York, she accepts the assignment despite Tomasetti’s objection.

The death of a young Amish teenager and the mysterious nature of the very reclusive Amish community in which she lived concerns the sheriff’s department of a rural upstate New York area. Burkholder agrees to pose as an Amish widow who has relocated to the community after the death of her husband. Both her and her imaginary spouse were unhappy with the lax ways of their community in Ohio. She has come to this area looking for a new start and to return to the more stringent observance of her faith. She draws on her own background to make her cover story believable.

It doesn’t take long for Kate to become part of the community, to ask some inappropriate questions and to quickly learn the dangerous consequences of such questions. What follows is a mix of kindnesses and brutalities with surprises around every chapter. As the secrets of the community come to light, the novel leaps forward at a pace nothing short of breathtaking. It’s a book that will give you cause to think, even as it excites you and carries you to its satisfying conclusion.

If anyone else in my family had my interest in mystery and police novels set in Cleveland or other parts of Ohio, the Kate Burkholder series would be in my personal library. If you share my interest in thrillers like this, you should definitely check out the series via your local library. It’s terrific.

ISBN 978-1-250-06157-7

                                                                                
 
I’d read an earlier edition of Sin-a-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties [Feral House; $25.95] but this is an expanded edition. Edited by B. Astrid Daley and Adam Parfrey, this just-published new edition adds the former’s articles on "Occult Sleaze," "Swinging Sleaze," and the books of the 1970s, and additional cover designs to accompany those new profiles.

Having worked as a professional writer for 44 years, I’m fascinated by this branch of paperback publishing of which I was dimly aware at best. I knew many of these books were pseudonymously written by authors - Robert Silverberg and Donald E. Westlake, to name but two - who would distinguish themselves in other more recognized genres. I knew many of them boasted incredible covers by Gene Bilbrew, Bill Ward, Robert Bonfils and other unsung artists. But I didn’t know the publishers or the stories behind how these books were created and distributed. This 328-page exploration satisfied my curiosity while entertaining me. If you have a similar curiosity about these books, I think you’ll enjoy Sin-a-Rama as much as I did.

Sidebar. When I picked up the book at my library, I was surprised to see it wrapped in a plain white sheet of paper. I was amused as well because the cover, while certainly featuring women with ample bosoms that seemed likely to pop out of their dresses at a moment’s notice, didn’t seem appreciably more salacious than the covers of some movies I’ve borrowed from the library. This “cover up” struck me as humorously excessive, especially given that the book was on a shelf in the library’s “pick up” room, well away from the casual browser.

Sidebar the second. Part of my interest in the subject manner stems from my wanting to someday write a novel of this nature using the formula described by the esteemed Silverberg in his lively article on his work in the field. Said novel will almost certainly feature super-heroes and super-villains.

ISBN 978-1-62731-028-4                                                                          

I’m also reading, though I’m not 100% certain why, Richi Ueshiba’s Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 2 [Vertical Comics; $15.95]. This manga series is sort of hard to explain, so I’m going with the back  cover come-on from the first book:

Mikoto Urabe is a new transfer student in Akira Tsubaki’s high school class. One day, Akira happens to find Mikoto passed out asleep on her desk after classes have ended. He wakes her and tells her it’s time to go home, and discovers that she has drooled on her desk. He spontaneously reaches out to touch and taste it… and then things start getting really strange

Urabe’s drool has the power to convey emotions and even memories to Tsubaki. So, in every story, she sticks her finger in her month and then sticks her finger in her new boyfriend’s mouth. She does this with a girlfriend as well. I’m thinking this must be some kind of sexual fetish. But I’ve never researched this because I’m already creeped out by it. I don’t want to know if it’s a real thing.

Getting past the drool thing, the mysterious Urabe and the devoted Tsubaki are interesting characters. The stories are well told and likewise interesting. The art is first-rate and some pages are just plain beautiful. Which I guess is why I’m reading it.

Mysterious Girlfriend X has also been adapted into an anime series. A third volume of the manga series is due in September. If you’re a fan of such relationship series, you might want to give this one a look.

Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 1:

ISBN 978-1-942993-45-2

Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 2:
ISBN 978-1-942993-46-9

Mysterious Girlfriend X, Volume 3:

ISBN 978-1-942993-70-4

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new installment of our high-riding “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Monday, July 25, 2016

MONSTERFEST MANIA (July 29-30)

From the same fine folks who bring you the amazing Akron Comicon, Monsterfest Mania has its premiere outing on Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30, at the University of Akron’s Quaker Station. As with Akron Comicon, this will be a family-friendly show with that friendliness extending to the ticket prices: $10 on Friday, $15 on Saturday, $20 for both days. Children under the age of 13 are free. Parking is also free. The show hours are 5-10 pm on Friday and 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday. I’ll be there both days.

The headline guest is the great Basil Gogos, the acclaimed artist who created the most beloved Famous Monsters of Filmland covers of the past. Joining him will be Lisa Loring, who played Wednesday on The Addams Family television series, and Felix Silla, the actor and stuntman who played Cousin Itt on the show. The show’s other guests include artists, authors, historians, horror movie hosts, masters of props, special effects creators and more. Convention events include a costume/make-up contest, horror/sci-fi movie screenings, panel presentations and more.

I’m scheduled to appear on one panel on Saturday at noon:

Ghoulardi Tribute Panel

Presented by Michael Monahan and Mike Olzsewski

Ernie Anderson’s crazy beatnik alter ego, Ghoulardi, was more than a horror host. He was more than a local television celebrity. Ghoulardi was a social movement.

Hot on the heels of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the British Beatle Invasion, Ghoulardi exploded on the scene like a cultural boom-boom. Over 50 years later, Cleveland is still picking up the pieces.

Join a panel of expert Ghoul-ga-teers as they discuss Ghoulardi’s unprecedented appeal and his lasting influence in the most highly-anticipated event since The Parma International Piano Music Playing Contest.


I’m one of those experts, though, truth be told, I was just one of tens of thousands of Cleveland kids to whom Ghoulardi was like unto a god. I’ll be talking about the impact he had on me and how it has shaped my comics work and more.

The rest of the convention?

When I’m not checking out other panels, meeting the other guests, or visiting with old friends like Ted Sikora and Chris Yambar, I’ll be at table G8. No relation to the pulp magazine hero who, with his Battle Aces, flew the skies to fight America’s enemies wherever he found them.

While at my table, I’ll be answering questions, selling stuff and signing autographs. I’m still figuring exactly what I’m bringing to the convention, but it’ll certainly include Black Lightning Volume 1 (which collects my first Black Lightning series from the 1977), an assortment of other Isabella-written items, the double-sided Superman poster I helped design for 1988's International Superman Expo in Cleveland and some other stuff.

Though comics remain my first fan and professional love, my second is the B monster movies of the past and the present. I am excited about Monsterfest Mania and hope to see you there.

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Due to family and work responsibilities, I have had to cancel some of my 2016 appearances. Here’s the current schedule:

Wednesday, August 3: Euclid Library (Ohio)

Sunday, August 14: Neo Comic Con (Strongsville)

Saturday, October 1: Cleveland Comic Con 2016

Sunday, October 2: Cleveland Comic Con 2016

Friday, October 21: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, October 22: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Sunday, October 23: Grand Rapids Comic-Con

Saturday, November 5: Akron Comic Con

Sunday, November 6: Akron Comic Con

Unless those aforementioned work responsibilities take me to other events, I won’t be adding any other appearances to this schedule. I am open to discussing 2017 appearances.

If you’re a convention promoter who is interested in bringing me to your event, email me. If you’re a fan who would love to see me at a convention near you, contact the promoter of that convention and ask him or her to get in touch with me.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Thursday, July 21, 2016

SILLY THOUGHTS ON A THURSDAY

These are the sort of notions that cascade around my brain when I don’t get enough sleep. They appear today because I am desperate to post something before I leave for my annual weekend of inhaling ancient magazine dust and fragments at PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio. Who needs narcotics when you have The Spider, Weird Tales, Zeppelin Stories and Hollywood Homicide Tales?

* There is a fortune to be made selling shirts, coffee mugs, water bottles, coasters, bumper stickers, wall hangings, headbands, booty shorts and lawn signs saying THIS IS A NO POLITICS ZONE. I give you this brilliant idea free of charge, but be a mensch and send me two  t-shirts (XXL) and the biggest lawn sign you make.

* Cosplay suggestion. Three women in sparkling evening gowns with Ghidrah heads sing songs from Japanese movies in the style of the Supremes and other Motown groups.

* To qualify for holding public office, elected officials should be required to spend a year working in a job that pays much less than $15 a hour. Also acceptable would be spending a year as a soldier in a combat zone.

* There’s something wrong about a world in which we have no ongoing CSI series. Especially since I have been working on a pitch for a new one. I’ve already picked out the Who song for the theme music: Fiddle About. Now I just need to decide on the city where the new series will take place. Possible choices include Cleveland, Ohio; Intercourse, Pennsylvania; Toad Suck, Arkansas; and Valley of Enchantment, California.

* I’m not having much luck playing Pokemon Go! But I have managed to catch Waldo, Carmen Sandiego and Jimmy Hoffa. Although, in all honesty, Hoffa wasn’t hard to catch.

* No offense to clowns intended, but, every time a politician or a pundit is caught in a lie, they should be forced to don an article of clown attire. If they get down to the big red shoes, then they should be removed from office and/or television.

* How much longer must we wait for a Star Trek/Star Wars crossover movie? Oh, be quiet. You know you would go see it.

*To assuage the tender feelings of those sensitive souls who hate the new Ghostbusters movie, Paul Feig will be rebooting Bridesmaids with male actors in the title roles.

* Open carry advocates should own as many guns as they want as long as they carry all of them on their persons at all times. Yes, I’m talking 24/7. While they sleep. While they brush their teeth. While they poop. While they shower. While they eat. While they watch Fox News. While they mow their lawns. All their guns. All of the time. Eventually, this will solve the problem.

*Disney Avengers. Captain America leads a new team of heroes in a movie you’d go see even faster than you’d go see the Star Trek and Star Wars crossover. Cap’s Silly Sextet: GizmoDuck from Duck Tales, Hercules, Merida from Brave, Wreck-It Ralph, Tinker Bell and Elsa from Frozen.  

*Launch a Kickstarter campaign to make enough money to finance my future Kickstarter campaigns. I’ll never have to produce anything except Kickstarter campaigns.

*Bill Clinton’s “First Lady” speech should be a word-for-word copy of Michael Douglas’ climatic speech from The American President: “You want a character debate, Don? You better stick with me, 'cause Hilary Rodham Clinton is way out of your league.”

* Weaponized Cheetos. I mean, besides Donald Trump.

The bloggy thing is taking a few days off while I attend PulpFest in Columbus, Ohio. I’ll be back on Monday with the word on my next convention appearance - Monsterfest Mania in Akron, Ohio - and my revised schedule for the rest of 2016. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 82

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 82nd installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #96 [February 1971] has a cover drawn by Gil Kane with Bill Everett inks. Inside the issue, Everett is also the inker of “The Kid from Missouri” by guest writer Gary Friedrich and guest artist Dick Ayers. The 14-page story would be reprinted in Rawhide Kid #148 [November 1978] with a new cover by Gene Colan and inker Joe Rubinstein.

I love this story. I love this story so much that I’m going light on the spoilers to encourage you to track down either this original appearance or the reprint. I think it’s the best Rawhide Kid story  not written by Stan Lee or Larry Lieber

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The Rawhide Kid and horse Nightwind are riding along when they come across a prison break in progress. Even though he is a wanted man himself, the Kid knows he has to try to stop it.

Rawhide shoots one of the two outlaws attacking the prison coach, but the other kills both of the guards. The Kid knocks the gunman from his horse with a flying tackle, but the bigger man kicks him (implied) in the groin. The man is preparing to shoot Rawhide dead when a shot rings out and ends his life.

Rawhide’s life was just saved by an elderly prisoner once known as the Missouri Kid. Despite this timely rescue, our Kid plans to turn Old Kid over to the authorities. Just not before Old Kid tells him his story of a young man wronged by a ruthless railroad company and who sought vengeance on same without hurting innocent folks. More I will not say, but it’s a great yarn. I was rooting for Old Kid at this point.

What follows are various humorous actions and exchanges. A lawman who looks suspiciously like the Marvel version of Wyatt Earp - also drawn by Ayers back in the day - gets the drop on them. The lawman is only interested in the Rawhide Kid and, not knowing who Old Kid is, lets him go.

More stuff happens until we get to a very satisfying ending. Like I said, you need to track down this story in the original version or the reprinted version.

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Here’s the cover of the reprint:
                                                                            

Marvel went to the 1950s for the four-page reprints backing up the main story. “Gunhawk” by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely is from The Ringo Kid Western #15 (December 1956). “Hide-Out” has art by Human Torch creator Carl Burgos and originally appeared in The Outlaw Kid #19 (September 1957). The writer of the Burgos story has not yet been identified.

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“Gunhawk” is a gem. It’s set in the lawless frontier town of Nugget Notch. A terrified stranger rides into town shouting that Gunhawk, a lightning-fast gunslinger for the Texas Rangers, is after him for a shooting in another town.

Bull Jones, the outlaw who runs the town, doesn’t want the law in his town. The stranger tells Bull he will need all his men to beat Gunhawk, the fastest gun east of the Rockies, the man who out-drew Frank James and the Wabash Kid. Bull isn’t impressed. He says he’s the fastest gun in these parts with the exception of another outlaw named Sagebrush Harry. That’s when the stranger tells him Sagebrush was buried last week:

The Gunhawk outdrew him afore his hand could touch his colt!

Bull and his men don’t need to hear any more. They decide to move on to other parts, leaving the stranger standing in the street, begging for help. When they run into a grim man riding into town, they rat out the stranger:

We ain’t looking fer trouble, amigo! We’re just leavin’ town. The man yuh want is hidin’ in the hotel! Yuh can have him with out compliments!

The grim man walks into the hotel. The stranger recognizes him and calls him “Gunhawk.” And then, they talk:

GUNHAWK: Well, it worked again!

STRANGER: Yeah, if we keep chasin’ these owlhoots outa the towns we’re supposed to clean up, our gun-hands are gonna git rusty! We won’t be able to draw if we have to!

GUNHAWK: It’s funny that they’re never smart enuff to doubt your story about me! Oh, well, I guess if they were smarter, they wouldn’t be owlhoots!

STRANGER: That’s right, Tom...and remember, in the next town, it’s my turn to be Gunhawk!

If I were ever asked to edit a volume of the best of the pre-hero Stan Lee stories, this one would definitely be in it.

“Hide-Out” has a tough act to follow and, while it doesn’t rise to the challenge, it’s not a bad little tale. First-time robber Drew gets caught in the act by first-time bank guard Pat. They both fire and they both miss. The fleeing Drew vows vengeance. Pat promises to get him first.

Drew goes into the woods searching for a hide-out. He gets turned away from other outlaw hide-outs who fear the pursuing Pat. Drew’s further adventures in the woods terrify him. When he finally finds a secluded cabin, am equally weary Pat is there. The guard came to the cabin to escape Drew. The finish is fun:

The two enemies, each afraid of the other, swung fists, missed and collapsed...

PAT: Drew, I guess we just ain’t fighters! What d’yuh say we help each other stay alive and get back to civilization?

DREW: It’s the only way we can save our own skins, Pat! And I’ll be happy to go back and face the music!

DREW: Any place...even jail...is better than this hide-out! Alone...I don’t think...I could last it out!

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SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
  

There’s no letters column in this issue, but we do get the return of the “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins. The lead item is about an article on Marvel in the August 1, 1971 issue of the Sunday supplement magazine Parade. That’s followed by an announcement of two new titles: Tomb of Dracula by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan, and Warlock by Roy Thomas, Gil Kane and Dan Adkins.

In other Bullpen news...John Romita, Marie Severin, Herb Trimpe and other Marvel folks took part in an art program for underprivileged kids at the Guggenheim Museum...Stan Lee shaved off his beard...Al Kurzrok, production worker and sometimes writer, went to Haiti for a weekend vacation...Barry Smith, now living in New York City, went back to England for a vacation.

“Stan’s Soapbox” discusses Marvel’s price increase to a quarter for a thicker book, then immediately down to a standard comic at twenty cents. No explanation beyond it being a decision made by the Marvel business people.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” lists a dozen new issues. Besides the aforementioned Tomb of Dracula and Warlock, there’s Fantastic Four #119 (the Human Torch and the Thing team up with the Black Panther in what I recall was a pretty good story), Spider-Man #105, Thor #196, Avengers #96 (with “the startling wide-up to the Kree-Skrull war”), Hulk #148, Captain America and the Falcon #146, Sub-Mariner #46, Daredevil #84, Astonishing Tales #10 (Ka-Zar) and Sgt. Fury #95 (reprinting one of that title’s earliest issues by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby).  

That’s all for this week’s edition of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella