Wednesday, June 22, 2016
School for Sheriffs
In theory, Hopalong Cassidy worked for the Bar 20 ranch, but in both movies and comic books, he ended up taking temporary work as a lawman when the situation called for it. How he managed this while still running a large ranch is frankly beyond me. The time-management aspect of it seems insurmountable. But then, Hoppy is a remarkable guy.
In fact, he's so remarkable that in DC's Hopalong Cassidy book, he even had time to teach a class for perspective sheriffs.
By the way, Fawcett Comics had the license for Hoppy from the mid-1940s until they folded in 1953. DC took over the book and retained the old numbering system. The book we're reviewing it Hoppy #117 (September 1956), written by John Broome.
Hoppy spends most of the sheriff class calling the students to task for carrying shoddy equipment--or even for not having your cartridge belt fully stocked with spare ammo. But Hoppy isn't just being mean. He's determined to make sure his students don't get killed.
One guy is short a bullet in his belt. But can one bullet make a difference? Hoppy recounts a tale where he was cornered by outlaws with only one bullet left. He used a clever trick to get the drop on the bad guys, but if hadn't had that one extra bullet, he'd have been killed.
The story sets up its theme very effectively this way. Hoppy isn't going all Drill Sergeant on the newbies, but he is stern and might potentially seem petulant. But as he continues to make his points, he also makes it clear that he's teaching these guys stuff that really will keep them alive.
Another student has a loose spur. That's a potential problem as well. In fact, a loose spur nearly got Hoppy killed once and did blow a chance to trail some outlaws back to their hideout (and their hidden loot) before he had to take them out.
Yet another student has a frayed spot on his rope. This time, Hoppy relates a story in which an outlaw he was pursuing had a frayed rope--something Hoppy was able to capitalize on to save his own life. The point is the same, though. Poorly maintained equipment can cost you dearly.
"School for Sheriffs" is a neat little story, with a well-constructed plot and great Gene Colan art work.
And Hoppy really is a great teacher--providing us with a model of what a teacher in any subject is supposed to do, whether teaching adults or kids. The teacher isn't there to make friends with the students or build their self-esteem. He's there to teach them what they need to know and make it clear that there are consequences for not learning it. THAT, by golly, is what a teacher does.
Next week, we'll revisit the Shogun Warriors as we continue to examine their complete saga.