May 8, 2008

Legendary Masked Rider of the Plains

(Quick update - luckily, things have settled, and thanks to all your kind thoughts. Will blog about it later this weekend, but now...)

This is going to be, alas, another post tinged with nostalgia.

Imagine that you're eight years old, watching Channel 9 on a Sunday morning. 10:00 am, Star Trek. 11:30 am, The Cisco Kid. But at 11:00 am - The Lone Ranger. Sure, they were action-adventure episodes with a child-like simplicity, but it was too corny to, say, survive any attempts at revamping, like the infamous 1981 movie.

In fact, part of why I love Dynamite Entertainment's Lone Ranger comic so much is that - quite frankly - it does for the radio and television Western what Russell T Davies did for Doctor Who - make it just a bit more grown up. And does so by really placing the character in a slightly different situation.

Yes, in the 1950s, Westerns were everywhere...but in this more jaded 21st century, we've seen Unforgiven. And some of us enjoy Deadwood. But Brett Matthews manages, in his storytelling, to do the impossible - take a morally "pure" character, put him in morally ambiguous situations, and have him be a hero. The art in this series has the right amount of grit - this is frontier life, harsh life...and it would have been easy to make the Lone Ranger more of an anti-hero, or even draw closer parallels to a similar character whose exploits were heard at WXYZ.

One of the best things about the series is that...well, it takes Tonto seriously. In the old radio and television show, Tonto's job was to basically get kidnapped and promote Native American stereotypes, not necessarily in that order. In the comic...well, he serves almost as a mentor and conscience to the Lone Ranger. In one sequence, he tells another character a story, leaving him hanging at the end because "not all stories have endings". Is it a perfect series? No, but quite series really is perfect.

But quite frankly, Dynamite's Lone Ranger is one of those series that I would love to see translated to either television or film...and it's ok if it isn't. It's an enjoyable read, and if you're not reading are really missing out on a great series.


Stephen said...

word up i love the lone rangr. best part bout it is the way his iconic supporting cast was introduced. i love how he got silver and the series manages to make the lone ranger seem cool when he says hi ho silver away.

Gordon D said...

I know - this is a book that could have really missed the mark.

Luckily, it's one of my favorites...and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Rob said...

Thanks for linking to, my website on Native Americans and comics.

I read the first two issues of Dynamite's LONE RANGER. Unfortunately, I didn't think they were nearly as good as you did. Here are my thoughts if you're interested: Review of LONE RANGER #1 and Minorities in LONE RANGER #2.