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I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
The Lone Ranger. A great American hero and one of my all-time favorite characters. I love ALL things Lone Ranger. So let's get this out in the open right here. I was one of the few who really liked the Disney reboot that came out a few years ago that seems to be hated by one and all. Yeah, there was no reason to have Captain Jack Tonto in it, but other than that, I'm a fan.
So. . .now that everyone knows my opinion can't be trusted, let's review some comics!
THE LONE RANGER (Vol. 3 Dynamite)
ISSUE 0 (Free Comic Book Day 2007)
--This Issue takes place between issue 6 and 7 of the regular series--
This is a free comic book day giveaway flipbook with Battlestar Galactica on the other side, so the Lone Ranger story is only 8 pages long. Before we get to it, forget about the BSG tale. Lousy art, lousy story, ends on a crappy cliffhanger. If you aren't a big BSG fan already, it won't make you want to become one. Nuff said about THAT.
The Lone Ranger, on the other hand. . .
VERY nicely done! The cover art is fantastic and frame-worthy. The short story is mostly silent until the end, and focuses on an already-established Lone Ranger and Tonto chasing a bandit while the Ranger thinks back on some of the things his father taught him about doing the right things. It's a very simple setup, but it serves as a great introduction to the character without rehashing his origin. I really liked the "silent storytelling", and the art definitely carried the load. Not the best I've ever seen, but nicely done. My favorite moment is the look on the Ranger's face when the schoolteacher he saves (when the bandit takes refuge in her schoolhouse) plants a big kiss on him for thanks.
All in all, very well done in such a short space. This was a great little introduction and I couldn't ask for anything more in a zero issue.
In this first issue, Dynamite resets everything back to the beginning for a re-telling of the Lone Ranger's origin.
The story switches back and forth from the past. . .showing John Reid (the future Lone Ranger) as a child, returning from Law School, earning his Texas Ranger's badge. . .and the present, as he rides with his father, brother, and 3 other rangers in pursuit of a small-time criminal named Collins who leads the ranger posse into a deadly ambush, of which John is the only survivor. . .rescued at the last moment by Tonto (making a brief, but bloody appearance).
I found this first issue to be a fantastic introduction to a character I already knew well. The flashback scenes helped it from becoming a simple retread. The art isn't the greatest I've ever seen, but it served the story well. The flashback scenes in particular. . .rendered in sepia tones. . .were very nicely done.
All in all, this was a great beginning!
The retelling of The Lone Ranger's origin continues as a badly-wounded John Reid is nursed to health by Tonto and swears revenge on Collins, not knowing that Collins has already been silenced by "Bart", an assassin in the employ of the mysterious person who was REALLY behind the death of the rangers. . .
The story continues to be strong as the new villain is introduced and Tonto talks about the difference between being ready and being able to do something as John heals. Unfortunately, the art takes a bit of a dip in this issue. . .it's odd, but some panels are outstanding, and others are on the verge of being plain bad. It almost looks like two separate artists, but the credits list only one. Bart in particular is drawn pretty badly. . .
All in all, despite the oddly schizo art, this was a good issue.
The art takes a pretty severe dip in this issue, it's still a bit schizo, with good panels and bad, but this time around the bad to good is about 3 to 1, with some panels sliding into "real bad". Once again, most of the bad art involves Bart, for some reason.
That said. . .
The story (continuing the origin of The Lone Ranger) remains pretty strong. John leaves Tonto to get his revenge, only to find someone beat him to it. Bart digs up the graves of the rangers and finds one empty, then begins a mission to find out who is missing. Also, the REAL bad guy (Butch Cavendish, a rotten politician) is revealed, plus we get an appearance by Silver at the end.
As a fan, I liked the nod to the original Lone Ranger by having John wear a red shirt on his search for revenge. So it's clear the creators are trying to respect the character. . .Unfortunately the poor art was distracting and brought this one down to average.
The art in this issue is an improvement on the last, but still remains oddly schizo. . .getting worse toward the end, almost as if the artist found himself against a deadline. Still, an improvement is an improvement.
The story still remains strong as the retold origin of The Lone Ranger hits on more of the established aspects of the character. He begins training the wild horse, Silver (though Tonto claims it's the other way around). He discovers the silver mine his father left him. Tonto starts calling him "Kemosabe". Tonto makes him his mask (previously, it was just a bandana with eye holes ripped in it). So John Reid is now beginning to more resemble the legendary character we know and love.
All in all, despite the hit and miss artwork, this was a pretty good issue.
First. . .just look at that cover! Now THAT'S the Lone Ranger! R.I.P. John Cassaday. . .
Unfortunately, the inside art in no way matches the epic nature of the cover. And that's a damn shame because this is the issue where John Reid is finally transformed into the legendary Lone Ranger.
I don't get this artist. Some of the panels are outstanding. Others are really bad. The revelation of the Lone Ranger falls flat because the artist draws him like a kid wearing clothes that are too big for him. What should be an epic moment turns into a WTF? Why? moment instead.
Still, in this issue we finally get the Lone Ranger we know and love as he and Tonto start trying to draw attention to themselves in an effort to draw out the unknown (to them) person who was behind the ambush that started John down the path of revenge.
Unfortunately for them, Bart is busy elsewhere trying to track down who the missing ranger is and killing his way through the dead ranger's families.
All in all, this was a decent issue. The art problems ruined what should have been an epic moment, and there was no explanation as to why Tonto decided to dye John's shirt blue, and it was just sort of a strange story moment. . .good taken with bad, this issue is average.
It should have been awesome.
Once again, the hit and miss art (mostly miss this time, unfortunately) ruins what should be an epic conclusion to the first arc of The Lone Ranger and the final issue of his retold origin.
There was some BAD art in this one. It looked really rushed in places. And the Lone Ranger still looks like he's wearing clothes 2 sizes too big.
The story here is still pretty strong, though. John comes to the rescue of his brother's wife, only to find out that Tonto already saved her. Then Tonto and the Lone Ranger team back up to take down Bart, who gives the Lone Ranger his pearl-handled pistols as he dies in one last origin moment. He also reveals that Butch Cavendish is the real villain and sets up the next arc as Tonto and the Lone Ranger ride off together in an epic moment ruined by pretty un-epic art.
God, why couldn't they have found another artist for this title?
Taken as a whole, the first 6 issues of Lone Ranger form a very nice reintroduction of a great American hero, and a good re-telling of his origin. The unfortunate art brings the whole thing down, but not far enough that I didn't enjoy the story being told.
I didn't realize until I started on this run that I was missing issue #7. I remember I USED to have it because I had it in a frame on my office wall for a long time (at my old job, I had a rotating collection of 12 comic covers on one wall) because the cover is a fantastic picture of The Lone Ranger on a rearing Silver. . .but it has somehow vanished over the years.
This issue was fairly average. As an early issue in a new story arc, it's pretty much setup for later resolution.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto save a man named Rafael from being lynched, and decide to bring him in for justice while being pursued by a posse.
There's some nice scenes of the Ranger doing some detective work, but unfortunately the art in this issue is some of the worst so far. . .there's also an awkward sub-plot about the Ranger's brother's widow and the Ranger starting to get feelings for each other. It just seems forced.
The "innocent" man the Ranger and Tonto are trying to protect turns out to not be so innocent and turns on them once the heroes are done doing his dirty work for him in helping him escape the posse. The Ranger throws himself in front of a bullet meant for Tonto and Rafael escapes.
This issue didn't really have much going for it. The artwork still is ruining what SHOULD be epic moments (Lone Ranger and Tonto riding up on the posse guns blazing comes to mind). There were some pretty good scenes of Butch Cavendish deciding he's gone soft in politics and "Breaking Bad" before heading back west to get his revenge on the Ranger for ruining him. Those scenes are the only thing saving this issue from a 2 star rating. . .
Things start to take a turn toward "Wild West Batman" territory in the final issue of this pretty underwhelming arc.
After the Ranger takes a bullet for Tonto and is nursed back to health by his brother's wife (who turns out to be a nurse), we get scenes of the Ranger lurking in the shadows, intimidating the prisoner (Rafael) in his silver mine "Batcave". We also get to see him sleeping in his mask in the same cave. Plus, the Lone Ranger and Tonto get their very own Commissioner Gordon in the Good Sheriff Loring. They leave Rafael in his hands, tied up Batman-Style on the porch after mysteriously appearing in the dark and disappearing mid-conversation.
There's so many Batman beats in this issue, I was expecting the Ranger to don a cape. . .
Please, God. Don't let the Lone Ranger decide to wear a cape.
Talk about a delay. . .this issue came out FIVE MONTHS after #10. I was sort of hoping that they swapped out the artist when I saw a new name on the cover. Paul Pope isn't my favorite artist in the world, but he's better than the regular on this title, at least.
BUT. . .
Pope only illustrates half this issue. . .a story about a wolf that Tonto tells a condemned Rafael before his hanging. Still, it was a nice change for what it was.
While Tonto is telling a condemned man confusing wolf stories, the Lone Ranger is sharpening his Wild West Batman skills by having SURPRISE! WAKE UP! Conversations with Sheriff Loring about how he's got his eyes on him and he'll work with him as long as he does the right thing, and then disappearing into the night to creepily stare in the window at his Brother's sleeping widow. It's sort of funny in an awkward way when Tonto catches him being the Peeping Ranger.
The regular artist is still pretty bad, even with five months to put out an issue. The Ranger is turning into a Creepy Wild West Batman. I think maybe this series is starting to swerve off the rails. . .
It seems the publishing of this title started to get a bit. . .unreliable in 2008. This one came out 4 months after issue #11, making it only the 2nd issue of The Lone Ranger to come out in a YEAR.
Unfortunately, if I were picking this up on subscription (if I even remembered I had it after months between issues) I wouldn't find it worth the wait.
Now, let's get this straight. . .the cover? Absolutely brilliant. One of the best of the bunch. But you can definitely see the "Wild West Batman" direction this title has taken in the cover alone.
The theme is continued inside as Commissioner Gordon. . .er. . .Sheriff Loring lights a big Bat-Signal bonfire to summon the Ranger and Tonto for help finding a killer. We also get a scene of the Ranger's silver mine "Batcave" complete with proto-Batcomputer corkboard covered with maps and clues, a workout area, a weapons workshop, and stable for the Ranger's "Batmobile", Silver.
Once again, I say. . .please, God. Please don't let the Lone Ranger wear a cape.
The story itself is just setup for things to come, with Loring asking the Ranger for help and old foe Butch Cavendish arriving in Texas with his first order of business to find his former assistant, WInthrop, who made off with all his money.
Except for the Batman beats, the writing is still JUST good enough to keep this title on the rails. I actually think I see a bit of improvement in the art as well. . .not sure if that's the benefit of having 4 months between issues, or just me getting used to it.
And there you have it. Issues 0-12 of Dynamite's first 26 issue run of The Lone Ranger.
As a true fan of The Lone Ranger, I'm a bit conflicted so far by this series. I loved the re-telling of the Ranger's origin in the first 6 issues. The covers, for the most part, are fantastic. And I feel that the writer and Dynamite had a lot of respect for one of America's oldest and greatest heroes.
BUT. . .
The interior art has been disappointing from the start, and is really a distraction from the story in many places. Also, once the origin was done, the title took a pretty sudden swerve into "Wild West Batman" territory, to the point of being REALLY obvious. With this only being the front half of this series, I'm hoping that the writer can keep his hand steady, because I can see a swerve off the rails coming on quick.
All in all, good with bad, I enjoyed this series. The art is no bueno, but I would still suggest this series so far for a good introduction to the Lone Ranger. As for the back half. . .we'll see.
Coming Next. . .
More Lone Ranger! Issues 13 - 25. Be there or be square!
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