Friday, September 21, 2012

Jubal Sacket’s Multishot Flintlock

As I have said in an earlier post, I wasn’t a fan of Louis L’Amour until I got around to checking out Jubal Sacket, the story of the mystic wanderer of the far traveling Sacket clan.  One of the side items in that fascinating book that postulated a number of crazy ideas (like a much larger European influence on 16th & 17th century America than previously known and the continued existence of mastodons into that time) was the occasional availability to multi-shot flintlocks and wheel locks, forerunners of the iconic wild west sixgun.  Today I found a neat YouTube video that shows a similar piece, the Lorenzoni repeating flintlock.  Watch, enjoy, and dream of running the wilderness with Jubal, the “Ghost in the Woods”.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lone Ranger Lost in the Wilderness

Somewhere along the line the Lone Ranger comic from Dynamite has gotten way off track.  The original 25 issue series by Brett Matthews was perhaps my favorite comic book of the last decade.  True to the source material yet totally modern in feel, it set a new standard for telling decompressed western comics. The series wrapped up and moved to a brief but fun Zorro / Lone Ranger crossover before restarting under the writing of Ande Parks.

I am not familiar with Parks, who seems to have spent most of his time in comics as an inker (contrary to popular belief, an important job that is not just tracing).  Writing, I have to say, may not be his strong suit.  The plots of the two story arcs so far are fair, but there is a real lack of connection to the original Lone Ranger material that keeps creeping in and annoying me.  For example, about five minutes of research on-line will turn up the writers’ bible for the original Lone Ranger radio program.  Among the points the producers held to was that, to maintain credibility in the story that the Lone Ranger’s identity remains a secret, he should never be captured and held long enough for someone to unmask him.  It is unrealistic that a villain would knock out a masked gunman and NOT take off his mask.  Yet there it is, in the first story line, the Lone Ranger captured, held in a cell, finally strung up on a gallows awaiting a dramatic rescue, with no one ever wondering just who is that masked man.  A seemingly minor point, but it makes the writing feel sloppy.

The second story arc in the series kicks off with Tonto getting shot and the Lone Ranger taking him back to his tribe to be healed.  Right, because western medicine is totally incapable, right?  Anyway, most of the story is then a long series of flashbacks to when evil white men killed Tonto’s family.  America is evil, white-eyes destroyed an idyllic paradise on earth, my country is forever tainted in blood, yes, yes, I’ve seen that before (but see my review of Copper for my thoughts on the alternative we pale faces were left with in Europe).  As the flashback continues we eventually see in issue #9 Tonto stalking, torturing, and killing the soldiers responsible.  Again, a quick look at the old Lone Ranger’s writers bible shows that the best plots don’t distinguish villains and heroes by race, and that the partnership of the Lone Ranger and Tonto sets an example that American of any creed or color can work together for the common good. 

I get the drive to make a darker and edgier comic- I did most of my comics reading in the 1990’s, when darker and edgier was all the rage.  But as the first Dynamite series shows (plus practically any Captain America comic in the last decade) you can still make a dark and edgy comic book with noble and heroic leads.  Let’s hope the editors at Dynamite figure that out soon.

Having said all that, Chuck Dixon’s concurrently published Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron series rocks.

UPDATE: That list of rules from the old radio program's writers' bible?  It's right on the Dynamite Comics web site.  Enjoy.