Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Who Needs a Human When You Have a Cool Horse?

Cover art by Sam Savitt

"Silver Gets Through," written by Paul S. Newman and illustrated by Tom Gill, was first published in Dell's Lone Ranger #117 (March 1958) and reprinted in Gold Key's Lone Ranger #7 (March 1967). According to a blurb on the first page of the reprint, it was brought back by popular demand. 

I don't know if that's true or if the blurb was just an editorial decision, but the story really is an excellent one. The Ranger and Tonto spot some Apaches on the warpath. With the Indians in pursuit, the two friends gallop towards the newly built and undermanned Fort Mills.

They're not far from the fort when Silver throws a shoe. This, plus the Ranger's concern that his mask will cause confusion, convinces him to hide out in the trees near the fort. Leading Silver, Tonto rides Scout into the fort.

His warning arrives just in time. The Apaches attack and the small detachment of soldiers soon realize they are in big trouble if help doesn't arrive soon. A larger fort is close enough to send reinforcements in time, but getting word to them seems impossible. No rider could get out of the fort without being cut down almost immediately.

That gives Tonto an idea. A rider might get killed. But a riderless house wouldn't be an automatic target--the Indians would rather catch it than kill it. And Silver, with his missing shoe replaced, would make a beeline for the Ranger as soon as he was out the gate. There's no question in Tonto's mind that Silver can outrun any other horse.

So they give it a try. The Ranger, hiding beyond the Apache force, sees Silver coming and jumps aboard as the horse passes him. He sees the note that was attached to the saddle and makes straight for the other fort.

So far, so good. But some of the Apaches stay stubbornly on Silver's trail. Once again, the remarkable horse will have to go it on his own as the Ranger drops off to hold the Apaches at bay. Most of the Indians attack the Ranger, but one continues after Silver. 

Silver has never been easy to catch, though. He jumps a ravine to make his getaway and reaches the fort with the message still attached to his saddle. Soon, a troop of cavalry first rescues the Ranger and then drives the Indians away from Fort Mills.

As is usual with any story written by Paul S. Newman, the plot construction is excellent, with the situation that requires Silver to twice work without a rider flowing logically out of the situation. The 10 page story moves at a furious pace, generating a real sense of excitement. And though it is a fairly short tale, it gives the Ranger, Tonto and Silver all a chance to shine. Poor Scout doesn't get to do a lot. I wonder if stories like this made him feel inadequate. 

There have been a lot of Cool Horses among the Western heroes of fiction--Trigger, Champion, Topper, Black Fury and others. But I really think that Silver might be the coolest of them all. 

Next week, we'll leave the Wild West and head off into Deep Space to participate in a Space Opera starring really, really tiny people. 


  1. I suspect the "Reprinted by Popular Demand" notice was a reflex of Gold Key, because almost every reprinted story contained the notice somewhere on the first page. It's hard to say how much truth it might have reflected because Gold Key almost never provided editorial information for its readers. The sole exception I can think of is an anniversary edition of "Walt Disney's Comics and Stories" which contained a page-long article that discussed the content and reader response to that title.

    But to the main topic du jour...that is one great story featuring Silver. Those Dell artists put a great deal of effort into those backgrounds, which are often as stunning as the characters in the foreground. Tonto's and Silver's resourcefulness are brought nicely into play in this adventure. I only own a handful of "Lone Ranger" comics, and now I want to keep an eye out for this issue.
    Thanks for another of many great posts!

    1. You're welcome.I do really like Tom Gill's work on this issue. He really does put a lot of effort into the backgrounds--something that enhances the story enormously.


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