Wednesday, April 26, 2017

From Indian Captive to Indian Scout

Charlton Comics gave the Comic Book Universe a lot of great characters that (except for the superheroes resurrected by DC Comics) have largely been forgotten.  That's too bad--these are characters that provided us with fun stories and deserve to be remembered.

The Cheyenne Kid began his adventures in Wild Frontier #7 (April 1957). The book was retitled Cheyenne Kid starting with the next issue and ran through issue #99, published in 1973. He also appeared as a back-up feature in several issues of Charlton's Billy the Kid. That's not a bad run at all. But when Charlton finally closed up shop, the Kid was among many characters that vanished into limbo.

The Kid's back story was something that had been done before. As a boy, he's captured by the Cheyenne after his family is killed when their wagon train is attacked. Spared because he put up such a brave fight, he's raised by the Indians and, as an adult, considers himself one of them.

But when he comes along on a raid against another wagon train, he rebels when a mean-spirited Cheyenne (Silent Otter) attempt to defeat the wagon train by burning everyone to death.  He switches sides, though he is reluctant to kill his former friends.

But, though this sort of basic plot has been done multiple times, a strong script (tentatively credited to Joe Gill) and Dick Giordano's art make it work. The Kid rejoins white society.  He's offered a job as a scout for the military, but initially refuses and takes a job in a general store. He simply does not want to have to fight the Indians he grew up with.

But he clashes with the store owner when the owner mistreats Indian customers. That soon leaves him unemployed, so he takes the scouting job, often leading the military into clashes with the Cheyenne and the Sioux, but always looking for ways to win a fight without having to kill someone.

It's this attitude that gives the Cheyenne Kid a distinctive personality and the series as a whole its own uniqueness. The Kid wants everyone treated fairly and--though he will fight when he has to--deadly force will always be a last resort for him.

This premiere story brings the Kid into conflict again with the dishonest store owner (who is selling guns to the Sioux) and his old nemesis Silent Otter, eventually bringing the tale to a satisfying conclusion.

So begins the 93-issue odyssey of the Cheyenne Kid. Like Charlton's Billy the Kid or the wild horse Black Fury, the Kid provided us with some excellent storytelling and really does deserve to be better rememebered.

This story is available online HERE.

That's if for this week. Next time, we tag along with Porky and Sylvester as they go on yet another epic adventure.

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