Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Home for Retired Outlaws

Western Round-Up was published by Dell Comics from 1952 to 1959, featuring stories about Western B-Movie stars (some of whom, such as Roy and Gene, had moved to TV by then) and eventually also including stories based on TV Westerns such as Wagon Train and Tales of Wells Fargo. Many of these guys had books of their own as well, but in the 1950s, people could not get enough Westerns. Printing a western-themed comic book with good quality stories and recognizable stars was essentially the same as printing money.

The first issue (cover-dated June 1952) starts out with a nifty Roy Rogers story titled "Gunfighter's Retreat." The writer is unknown, but the solid artwork is by Pete Alvarado.

Roy has been asked for help by Ma Stebbins, who has bought an old, abandoned fort and opened a sort of retirement home. The old coots living there are all aging gunfighters--many of them former outlaws. But all have done their jail time and now they have a good, clean home, allowing them to swap tall tales and re-live old battles using blanks. (No one is allowed to have live ammo.)

Ma Stebbins has done this out of the goodness of her heart and now has the cash to pay off the last of the loan she had taken to buy and set-up the home. But the man to whom she owes the money--Toothpick Tolin--would rather foreclose than collect the money. He plans to use the fort as a base for an outlaw gang.

Roy is asked to deliver the money. This proves to be no easy task, but with the help of Trigger (who twice alerts Roy to ambush) and Pa Stebbins (a former quick-draw who now has an artificial arm), they fight their way past some thugs, deliver the money and force Tolin to give them a receipt. All this includes a wonderful scene in which Pa Stebbins, despite now being short a right arm, forcing a frightened Tolin to back down rather than draw on him.

Tolin isn't giving up, though, sending a small army of outlaws to stop kill Roy and get back the receipt. This forces Roy to stage a last stand, holding off the outlaws while Pa and Trigger make it back to the fort. Pa then forms the ageing gunmen living there into a kick-butt posse that saves Roy and sends the outlaws packing.

This is a fun story--a great example of just why Westerns were so popular. Clear storytelling, interesting characters and solid action scenes all combine to give us a very entertaining tale. I love the idea of the old gunmen bringing a gang of young whippersnappers a well-deserved comeuppance. Our culture has lost touch with the idea that our elders have wisdom and experience to share with us. This story--and especially Pa's confrontation with Tolin--reminds us of how important it is to recognize that wisdom does indeed come with age.

You can read this one online HERE.

Next week, we return once more to the Micronauts.

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