Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Evil Ragtag Band of Misfits versus a Good Ragtag Band of Misfits

In Tomahawk #96 (Feb 1965), the British really want to take out Tomahawk and his Rangers once and for all. And, as is often the case in a comic book universe, they decide the best way to counter one ragtag band of misfits is to form their own parallel ragtag band of misfits.

(Interestingly, over in the Marvel Comics universe, Baron Strucker was carrying out an almost identical plan to do away with the Howling Commandos.The two stories hit the spinner racks within a week of each other.)

A mysterious British spy called the Hood recruits 5 prisoners to form an anti-Ranger unit, each of whom has a unique skill. Meanwhile, the Rangers are transporting a large load of gunpowder, with the intention of blowing up a dam and flooding a valley full of redcoats.

The route to the dam is over mountainous terrain. So Tomahawk borrows a plan from Hannibal's playbook, then borrows a pair of elephants from a local circus.

So we immediately get two really cool things dropped into the same story--a unique band of bad guys and elephants being used in a Revolutionary War story. That's what makes the Tomahawk stories from this era so enjoyable. The comic book would grab bizarre and divergent elements such as these and mix them into a setting in which we don't normally expect to see such things. This emphasizes the bizarre-ness of it all and adds that much more to the story's entertainment value. For instance, when Tomahawk has to get his elephants down a snowy slope, he straps them to tobaggans. Because--why not?

The bad guys jump the Rangers, gradually capturing them all in a series of action set-pieces that allows the Hood's men to demonstrate their individual skills and for the Hood to show that she is indeed a clever leader.

Did I say "she?" I did, because the Hood turns out to be the sister of Lord Shilling, a British spy who was an old enemy of Tomahawk. She's determined to avenge her brother's past humiliations by destroying the Rangers.

But before she can have them all executed, Tomahawk escapes and frees his men. The Rangers are still chained together, though, leading to a fantastic scene in which they begin to fall one-by-one off a cliff ledge, with each pulling the next guy off because of the chains.

The story's finale is a little anti-climatic, with the Rangers jumping the bad guys and capturing them in just a single panel. An extended fight scene was called for here. Also, it would have been nice if the elephants had played a role in climax. The poor animals are just sort of forgotten about.

But, on the other hand, I wouldn't have missed seeing those elephants sledding down the mountain-side for the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...