I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
Let's finish this. Hi-Yo Silver! Away!
THE LONE RANGER (vol. 3 Dynamite)
We get away from "Gritty Wild West Batman" (For the most part. It's still in there a bit) in this issue and focus more on what makes Lone Ranger a hero as he and Tonto rush into a wildfire to save a family, and then join the bucket brigade to help save a nearby town. I really liked this part of the story, although (AGAIN!) it was ruined visually by the substandard art. What SHOULD have been an epic full panel of the Ranger riding Silver through flames to rescue a child is definitely hampered by the artist.
Other than the Ranger, Butch Cavendish's story thread picks up steam as he re-unites with his former assistant, WInthrop and the two of them begin plotting how to draw out and kill the Ranger.
All in all, the story on this arc is pretty strong. If they could have only found a different artist, the whole thing could have been epic. As things are. . .it's average.
As you can see by the cover, they finally decided it was time to put the Lone Ranger in his god-awful light blue outfit from the T.V. show. They throw it in as replacement for the clothes he burned saving the town from a fire last issue. The artist completely fumbles the look and makes what was already a bit ridiculous into a major fail. He STILL occasionally makes the Ranger look like a kid wearing adult clothes. Through this whole issue, the art is even worse than usual, if that's even possible.
It may have something to do with the fact that this is the SECOND issue to come out in September 2008. So we go from 4 or 5 month delays to double-shipping. I'm beginning to wonder if Dynamite had just given up on this series at this point. The shipping schedule seems to have been completely random in 2008.
Other than the crap-tacular art, the story still remains pretty strong. At this point it's really making me have a love/hate relationship with this series. I like the story, but hate the art.
It turns out that the killer that the Lone Ranger and Tonto were brought in to help find is actually a serial killer. . .and possibly one that Sheriff Loring failed to capture years before, leaving behind 5 dead women. God, I wish they would have found a different artist. This is a pretty good story. . .
I have to say, that besides the pretty bad artwork, Scorched Earth was a pretty good story arc.
In this final issue, the Ranger reveals the serial killer by using detective work. It still smacks a bit of Wild West Batman, but the scenes where he lays down how he figured things out was pretty nice. Sure, the killer was pretty easy to figure out anyway, and it ended with a good old fashioned "The killer confesses and then monologues about how nobody will believe the masked man while the authorities listen from hiding" cliche, but all in all this was a pretty good ending to a pretty good story.
A 2 month delay between this issue and the last (which double shipped) keeps the random distribution streak of this title going.
The story itself pulls in and away from the Lone Ranger and Tonto to focus on Butch Cavendish confessing his sins to a priest after he kills a lawman using silver bullets (as part of his plan to destroy the Lone Ranger) and the lawman prays to God before he's gunned down.
I liked this close in, personal look at what makes the "Big Bad" of this series tick. Even the art didn't bother me that much this time around. For some reason, the artist draws flashbacks better than "in the now". I saw this in the first couple issues of this series, and it returns here.
It's pretty much a standard "Sensitive boy is abused by his father and fate into growing up tough and never looking back." story, but it's still pretty good for what it is. I especially liked Cavendish's conclusion that he can do all the evil he wants because God will forgive him in the end. . .and if he doesn't then there's no God and it doesn't matter if he does evil or not.
All in all, a pretty thought provoking one-off issue.
Wow. . .SEVEN MONTH delay between this issue and the last! Anyone with this title on hold would be forgiven for thinking the series had been cancelled completely at this point.
But that aside. . .LOOK at that cover! Wow! Once again I say R.I.P. John Cassaday. He wasn't my favorite artist, but when he hit it right, he hit it RIGHT.
The story itself seems to pick up a few months past the last issue as well. At this point, the Lone Ranger and Tonto are becoming well known as heroes in the area. The Ranger has gone from creepy staring in Linda Reid's (his brothers widow) window to cooking dinner for her and wanting to have serious talks about what might be what. He also has ditched the blue jumpsuit for his previous outfit (thank God). Elsewhere, Butch Cavendish is busily killing lawmen with silver bullets and Commissioner Gordon. . .er. . .Sheriff Loring finds out that there's a federal agent in town investigating the murders.
All in all, a pretty good setup for things to come. The writing is still strong, and once again I see a bit of improvement in the art. . .but then again, with 7 months between issues, one would expect there would be.
I guess at this point, a 2 month delay between issues is pretty good. . .
In this issue, 3 story threads move toward converging. First is Sheriff Loring letting the Ranger and Tonto know that they are now wanted for murder, but that he doesn't believe it and will help them figure out who the real killer is and why he wants to frame the Lone Ranger.
Second, Butch Cavendish, after successfully framing the Ranger for murder, begins to gather enough weapons for a small army.
Third, the federal agent (Winston Marle) sets out on the trail of the Lone Ranger to bring him in for murder.
Then there's the continuing subplot of John and Linda Reid's awkward attraction to each other as his dead brother spins in the grave. . .
All in all, a pretty good story that seems to be heading for a massive confrontation of some sort. The art still disappoints, but I think the extra time between issues helps a bit.
Not a bad issue. Not great, but not bad.
Another 2 month delay didn't do the art any favors in this issue. It's some of the worst in a while. The artist seems to have a REAL problem drawing interiors, making windows and furnishings much bigger than they should be. There's one panel of the agent Winston Marle sitting in a hotel room waiting for Sheriff Loring where the window behind him looks about 15 feet square and Marle looks tiny. Just one example. There's more. The art in this issue is really distracting. . .
The story itself is strong, with the threads coming closer and all the players converging in the same town.
But the romantic sub-plot is the big surprise in this one. John and Linda get into a heated "Is you is or is you ain't my baby?" discussion in the Bat-Cave and John tells her to show him exactly how she feels. . .so she grabs Tonto and smacks a big kiss on him. Now THERE'S something new in the mythos. . .the Lone Ranger doesn't get the girl!
I admit I was surprised, so I give this issue an extra star, even though the art royally stinks.
As you can see by the cover, a good part of this issue is based around Linda revealing she's got the itch for some private Tonto Time.
The Ranger's initial reaction is pretty funny as he tries to make it sound like he knew all along. Then he admits he was stupid not to see it. THEN we make a return to "Wild West Batman" as he puts silly nonsense like love behind him and dives into the darkness as he sets out with Tonto and Sheriff Loring to prove their innocence.
Once again, the turning of the mythos on its ear by the Ranger NOT getting the girl is refreshing. The story here is strong. The art still is extremely weak.
The artist makes the Ranger's "Bat-Cave" bigger and more elaborate every time he draws it. It went from being a relatively cramped silver mine in early issues to a vast cave with a hundred foot ceiling. This time out, he even shows a small room with a half-dozen identical Bat Suits. . .er. . .Lone Ranger costumes.
Things are moving toward a big finale as this series nears its end. Cavendish discovers where Linda Reid lives and breaks in to cause havoc after the Ranger and Tonto ride off to find Winthrop in order to pry Cavendish's location out of him. Also, Sheriff Loring and Agent Marle have a confrontation where Marle lets Loring know there's more to things than meet the eye.
I sort of figured the whole Tonto/Linda thing would end badly. Unfortunately, much of the punch of the story is weakened by consistently bad artwork. This series could have been epic if only they had switched out the artist. I congratulate Dynamite for keeping a team from start to finish. Not many comics can say that. But I hate them for it as well. . .
3 issues from the end of the run and things are rushing toward a (hopefully) explosive conclusion.
Butch Cavendish leaves Linda and Dan Jr. in the hands of his henchmen while he blows up the Lone Ranger's "Batcave" with dynamite.
Linda and Dan Jr. fight for their lives. Dan escapes, but comes back and saves his mom from being raped with a hornet's nest. It's a nice nod to Dan Jr. being the father of Britt Reid (AKA The Green Hornet), but it's completely ridiculous that Linda and Dan aren't stung once by a room full of hornets, but the bad guy is swarmed and stung to death.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto confront Winthrop to find out where Cavendish is at and learn that his favorite tactic is to kill the family of his enemy. The have an "OH $H!T" moment and rush back home to find dead bad guys and a traumatized Linda and Dan Jr.
AND. . .Comissioner Gordon. . .er. . .Sheriff Loring is taken prisoner by Cavendish and has his hand chopped off.
As you can see, there's a lot going on in this issue. The writer juggles the balls nicely, and the story is pretty strong. Unfortunately, even with what seems to be a steady bi-monthly shipping schedule, the art is still extremely disappointing. Some panels border on awful.
Another AWESOME cover by the late, great John Cassaday on this one. . .
Inside, things get real when Cavendish brutally burns Sheriff Loring with a pot of boiling stew. When the Ranger finds him, Loring reveals that he knew who he was the whole time and then shoots himself.
Linda Reid tells the Ranger that there's no way he can do what he has to do if he's always worrying about her, so she decides to move along without the Lone Ranger OR Tonto. Sorry, T. . .
And as Tonto escorts Linda and Green Hornet's dad to safety, the Ranger rids off solo to decide if he's a killer or not as he heads toward destiny, Butch Cavendish, and the end of this series in an isolated church.
These story moments could have been so much more epic in the hands of another artist. As it is, the crap-tastic artwork keeps this whole series at a steady average level. A damn shame, because there are some great story moments in this issue as the Lone Ranger rides off to meet his destiny as the LONE Ranger.
Another frame-worthy cover by Cassaday. The only thing is that the Ranger looks like he's in his 40's instead of the young man in this "Year One" series. Still fantastic, though. God, I wish Cassaday had been doing interiors on this. . .
In this penultimate issue, Tonto decides "Bros before Hoes" and leaves Linda and Dan Jr. with his tribe before riding off to team up with the Ranger against Cavendish.
Speaking of which. . .Cavendish and the Lone Ranger finally meet face to face for the first time and a fight to the death ensues (sure to be resolved in the last issue). Unfortunately, what should be an epic and dramatic reveal moment is severely weakened by one of the worst panels of the Lone Ranger in this series. No, really. . .in the ultimate moment of decision. . .is the Ranger a hero or does he just want revenge? He looks like a kid wearing clothes 2 sizes too big.
This SHOULD be a defining moment and it just looks like crap. No fault of the writer. The script is suitably heroic and epic. It's the art that brings a climactic battle between good and evil down to merely average.
And here we are at the end of the trail for The Lone Ranger. A series that took 5 years to put out 2 years worth of issues. A series that re-told the origin of The Lone Ranger, turned him into Batman, and finally let Tonto get the girl for once.
As the final battle between the Ranger and Cavendish turns bloody, Cavendish runs outside to his. . . *facepalm*. . .coal-fired steampunk tank and gives the Ranger hell with a. . .*sigh*. . .mounted gatling gun. Tonto rides in to save the day, just about gets his Apache @$$ handed to him, and is saved in turn by the Ranger and his last silver bullet.
It all ends thusly. . .
Cavendish survives, but in a coma, conveniently killing the two birds of possibly being able to use him again later, and keeping his blood off the Ranger's hands.
Linda and Dan Jr. set off for Chicago to leave The Ranger and Tonto to their hero business without her having to be molested by random villains from time to time. And with a "Sorry, Tonto, I'm out." She's out.
The Lone Ranger meets up with Winston Marle and finds out that he's not there to take him down, but to make him a government agent. The Ranger says he'll help if he thinks he should, otherwise Washington can sit and spin.
AND FINALLY. . .
The Ranger and Tonto ride off into a poorly-illustrated sunset to become heroes of legend and lore.
Except for the stupid steampunk tank, this was a suitably epic ending to this series, perfectly setting up the Lone Ranger and Tonto for further adventures. . .hopefully with a better artist.
And there you have it. Dynamite's 2006-2011 26 issue run of The Lone Ranger.
Like I said at the very beginning, I am a Lone Ranger super-fan, but I feel I've judged this series well. It can be summed up fairly simply: The story was good. The art was bad.
There were SO many epic moments (or what SHOULD have been epic moments) that were completely ruined by the borderline awful art on this title, and that was a damn shame because I could tell that the writer had respect for this great American character. While the story was pretty strong from start to finish, the artwork only rarely elevated itself above average, and usually hovered down in the "pretty bad" range.
It just makes me a little sad to think about how great this run could have been if only it had been illustrated by someone else. All in all, I see this whole series as a sadly missed opportunity.
Coming Next. . .
A slightly-uncomfortable mixture of Godly devotion and sexy, revealing outfits.
What? Japan? Oh. . .okay then. Warrior Nun Areala!
Be there or be square!
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