Wednesday, May 18, 2016


In my previous post I noted that Red Wolf wondered if villain Devil Mask might be a white guy simply because the villain favored a six-gun.

There's no knowing how many, if any, real Native Americans were capable of using the white man's six-shooter, but for whatever reason, thousands upon thousands of westerns have repeatedly depicted tribal types wielding rifles, but rarely handguns.

"The Last Warrior," written and drawn by Larry Lieber for RAWHIDE KID #71 (1969), is possibly more interesting for this one angle-- given a vivid depiction on the cover-- than for its story as a whole. To be sure, "Warrior" makes a decent read, but that image-- of Marvel's foremost western hero (arguable, I know) being disarmed by a redskin beating him at his own game-- is alone worth the price of admission.

Without going into a lot of story-detail, in essence Rawhide comes to the defense of a reservation-tribe of Apaches being oppressed by intolerant white townspeople and by scheming dastards who want to incite a new Indian war. Rawhide manages to dispose of both threats without much trouble. However, the aggression of the villains convinces the "firebrand" Red Eagle-- who has trained himself in the white man's tool of the six-gun-- to start a one-man crusade against white civilization.

Lieber honestly seeks to elevate the ensuing conflict between the red-haired outlaw and the red man to something more than a simple cops-and-robbers tale, as the author has Red Eagle's chief tell Rawhide: "[Red Eagle] must be stopped... by a lone warrior, as brave as himself-- the Rawhide Kid." Later Rawhide himself glosses this sentiment, thinking that because Red Eagle is a warrior, he should not be stopped "by lesser men, who find courage in numbers." The story culminates in a shootout, and Red Eagle receives a warrior's death-- which might have been easier for readers to accept if he'd been seen to kill anyone during his one-man war. Perhaps because Larry Lieber didn't want to script an overly violent comic, Red Eagle doesn't do anything but rob people-- apparently with no intention of doing anything with the money. All that he says to one of his victims is that he"will take from you, as you have taken from the Apache." It almost sounds like the Native American practice of "counting coup," though any such resemblance is probably mere coincidence.

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