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Rawhide Kid #2 By Matt Martin
Marvel Comics/MAX – Ron Zimmerman (w); John Severin (a)
By some accounts, I ran a bit roughshod over the first issue of Rawhide Kid. Myself, I think I was rather civil. I was surprised to find that the book was better than I had expected it to be, but since I had expected something irredeemably God-awful, that wasn’t too much of an accomplishment. The first issue, I felt, was simply mediocre. It had its moments, but it in no way, shape or form lived up to the hype that Marvel had spent so much time generating for it.
The second issue, on the other hand, is a different story.
For one thing, to be blunt, it’s a lot gayer than the first issue. I think the initial offering of the series tried to be pretty subtle (or what passes for subtlety from Zimmerman), relatively speaking. The Kid was clearly gay (or at least leaning towards that persuasion), but only obviously so because the reader already knew in advance that his sexual preference was the pivotal point of the book. In other words, being in on the joke beforehand was really the only sure way to get the joke.
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This time around, the Kid’s not trying so hard to hide his inclination towards the menfolk. Rawhide is flamingly gay, speaking almost entirely in the clichéd dialect that denotes homosexual characters on tv sitcoms. The Kid’s contribution to most conversations is to comment on someone’s wardrobe choices or manners, generally speaking. Comicraft’s lettering shares a good deal of credit for making his accent come alive through the use of hyphens in words that are normally not hyphenated and emboldened phrases to show emphasis (or overemphasis, as the case may be).
Continuing the comparison between issues 1 and 2, I felt that the comedy in Rawhide Kid #1 was essentially nonexistent. There were a few moments that I thought were passably amusing, but the funniest part about them was that they were seemingly the best efforts of someone who previously wrote comedy for a living. The second issue, on the other hand, does have more than a smattering of genuinely laugh-out-loud jokes and not all of them revolve around the Kid’s sexuality. The running gag of Sheriff Morgan’s son Toby’s shame over his father’s beating at the hands of Cisco Pike continues apace, gathering steam as the issue goes on, for example. Generally speaking, however, the most common gag is that the people around the Rawhide Kid simply cannot seem to wrap their brains around what is “going on” with him, a bit that works for the most part.
As far as the story goes, things have continued along a fairly predictable course. The Cisco Pike gang has vacated the town limits, but no one within Wells Junction holds any illusions about the permanency of that arrangement. Knowing that it is only a matter of time before Pike and his outlaws return to raise more hell, Sheriff Morgan begins interviewing potential deputies in an effort to replace the one he lost in his ill-fated fight with the bandit leader. True to form, the Rawhide Kid volunteers to serve as Morgan’s right-hand man, but only until a suitable replacement can be found. This he does simply out of the goodness of his heart and because he hates to see anyone bullied. And possibly because of more than a slight attraction to the gruff, but privately terrified, lawman.
If I have any real complaint about the issue, it’s that Zimmerman uses a sort of scattershot method to his comedy. Rather than pacing his jokes and using only those that truly work, he seems to be simply throwing out anything he can think of and seeing if it sticks. For example, the Taxi Driver and Andy Griffith bits were simply terrible. On the other hand, some of the comments, particularly from the schoolchildren, were downright inspired.
At the end of the day, the comedy ranges from absolutely painful to genuinely amusing. It’s that inconsistency that keeps me from giving it a higher recommendation, as the jokes simply may not work for some readers. However, if you can refrain from taking the book too seriously, there’s a fair chance that you’ll get a kick out of at least something contained within.