Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cowboy Super Villains and the Two-Gun Kid


Been on a cowboy kick lately. Been enjoying some old spaghetti westerns and figured I'd try some cowboy comics, too. The problem is that I've always found the vast majority of western comics to be virtually interchangeable. Oh, I enjoy the art on some--Joe Maneely, Jack Kirby, Jack Davis and even Al Williamson in the fifties. Doug Wildey on THE OUTLAW KID and much later, RIO. All the different versions of Dick Ayers' GHOST RIDER. The one I always gravitate to, however, is the TWO-GUN KID. I've always attributed this to my initial exposure to the character in the marvelous and funny parody of the strip in NOT BRAND ECCH!


For many years a generic cowboy, ol' Two-Gun was reinvented by Lee and Kirby in the early days of the Marvel Universe as a sagebrush super-hero. He was now a masked rider with a sidekick and a secret identity. Secretly, he was frontier lawyer Matt Hawk with a sidekick named Boom-Boom, a big cigar chomping bald guy who always wore a top hat. Since Boom-Boom was often seen with Matt as well as aiding Two-Gun, it's unclear as to how the residents of the Old West weren't able to put two and two together.


Superheroes, as we all know, inspire supervillains and Two-Gun had his share. Along with run-in's with Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Cole Younger, Geronimo and other real-life western legends, he fought a number of supervillains. Hurricane was a frontier Flash who could draw as fast as he could run. There was also the Fox, the Panther, the Rattler, Roaring Bear, the giant Indian with super strength and the Hulk-like Goliath.

For the most part, the art was handled by western veteran Dick Ayers. Ayers' Kirby-style art has always looked...well...dirty to me. Guess that's why he was the perfect artist for westerns and war comics! HERBIE's Ogden Whitney drew (and wrote!) some late period stories. Writers after Stan included brother Larry Lieber, Roy Thomas, Denny O'Neil and Steve Skeates! By the mid-sixties the book was drowning in reprints and eventually cancelled. It was revived a couple years later, X-MEN-like, as an all-reprint title.
The character of the TWO-GUN KID was officially brought into the Marvel Universe and came into the modern day to join the AVENGERS at one point. More recently he had some Captain America-like moments as a man out of his time in SHE-HULK. Beyond that, the Marvel Universe degenerated into the evil alternate reality it became and I have no idea what happened to him. Every once in awhile though, I hear someone ask, "Who was that masked man?" and I just want to answer, 'THAT, sir...was the Two-Gun Kid!"

2 comments:

BHC said...

So what spaghetti westerns have you been indulging in? Anything more exotic than the old Clint Eastwood classics? Inquiring minds want to know!

Anonymous said...

There used to be a used book store
in Green Bay called Casey's. They
had shelves of paperbacks, girlie
mags in the back...but best of all,
there was a long table containing
stacks of used comics, costing 3 for a quarter.
Problem was, Casey's was located on the east side and I lived on the
west side. I tried to get there weekly, even twice weekly, but the
east side comic collecting kids got
first crack at any "new" comics that were added to the stacks. So
superhero Marvels were seldom found. But I could buy all sorts of
Marvel westerns! And as long as I
had made the trip....
I picked up some decent runs of Two-Gun Kid, Kid Colt and Rawhide
Kid. Hey, what can I say; I was a
Marvel collector back then, and grew to appreciate these slightly
second-rate Marvel comics for what they were...fun reads!

Sagebrush Sam Kujava