Monday, March 12, 2018

Longbox Junk - The Lone Ranger & Tonto

This "Mini-Series" is actually 4 unconnected one-shots with a wildly erratic shipping schedule and with a rotating creative team.  They show a much darker side of the Old West than one would normally expect in a Lone Ranger comic.  The first issue in particular feels like The Ranger and Tonto somehow wandered into "Weird Western Tales".

DYNAMITE (2008 - 2010)


SCRIPT: Jon Abrams & Brett Matthews
PENCILS: Mario Guevara
COVER: John Cassiday

The Lone Ranger and Tonto enter a truly dark corner of the Old West when they investigate a brutal murder and discover a serial killer. . .but not one they would normally expect. It's like the Lone Ranger wandered into Weird Western Tales! 

This is probably the darkest Lone Ranger story I've seen. It's almost as if The Ranger and Tonto accidentally wandered into an issue of Weird Western Tales.  It involves a serial killer who turns out to be a mentally disturbed child.  Not your usual Lone Ranger villain. . .

That said, I liked it. I liked the darker take on the West that The Ranger inhabits, while still maintaining the heroic nature of the character.

So the story was good. The art. . .No bueno. It looks scratchy and unfinished. Not QUITE as bad as the art on the regular series, but not much better, either. This artist has a real problem with faces.

Overall, despite some crap-tastic art, I liked this look at the darker side of The Lone Ranger's world.


SCRIPT: Brett Matthews & Neil Turitz
PENCILS: Vatch Mavlian
COVER: John Cassiday

In another dark tale of the Lone Ranger's Wild West, The Ranger and Tonto discover the morbid truth connecting disappearing travelers and tall tales of a haunted town. 

This story wasn't as good as the first issue by a pretty long way. It was pretty much a by-the-numbers effort with The Ranger and Tonto finding out the truth behind legends about a deserted ghost town rumored to be haunted where those seeking a hidden treasure tend to disappear without a trace.
Turns out that it's just some bandits working for a rich guy to rob those lured to the town by old rumors of hidden gold.

At least the art here is better than the first issue. . .and better than that on the regular series. It has a nice, vague, hallucinogenic look that matches the story well.

Overall, despite the decent art, I find nothing in this issue to justify a $4.99 price tag.


SCRIPT: Jon Abrams & Brett Matthews
PENCILS: Vatch Mavlian
COVER: John Cassiday

The Lone Ranger and Tonto investigate a brutal murder at a travelling circus and discover the dark side of carnival justice. . .

This one was pretty bad. It had a predictable story with a ridiculous bear fight sequence, although it WAS interesting to see The Ranger in rarely-shown detective mode.  And the art. . .God awful. It was so scratchy and unfinished looking that it was actually distracting from the story.

What's strange is that it was the SAME artist that did some pretty good work on the previous issue. I'm thinking there are a couple of uncredited inkers making the difference between these two issues. Otherwise, I really don't see how there can be such a dive in quality from one to the other.

Overall, this issue was extremely weak. It sure as hell isn't worth the $4.99 price tag.


SCRIPT: Brett Matthews & Neil Turitz
PENCILS: Sergio Cariello & Esteve Polls
COVER: John Cassiday

A reporter discovers that there are many answers to the question of "Who was that masked man?" and that ALL of them are seemingly true. It's Wild West Rashomon!

This issue was the best of the four. . .starting with a FANTASTIC Cassaday cover that is definitely poster-worthy.

The story concerns a reporter trying to do a story on the legendary Lone Ranger and is broken up into him interviewing 4 different people and finding out 4 different, seemingly contradictory, but ALSO seemingly true stories about The Ranger. It's obviously a "Rashomon" tribute set in the Old West, but done very nicely.

The art is extremely hit and miss, with the framing sequences by Polls being very well done and the flashback sequences by regular series artist Cariello being typically God-Awful.

Overall, this was a really good issue. The schizophrenic back and forth between quality art and crap art wasn't enough to ruin it for me, but just enough to make me question once again why the hell they kept Cariello drawing Lone Ranger on the regular series.


Overall (except for the 4th issue), I could find nothing to set these stories apart and justify charging $4.99 for each issue.  Each of these one-shots would have done just as well being single issues in the (then) ongoing regular Lone Ranger series.  

That said. . .

I liked the IDEA of these stories showing the darker side of the Lone Ranger's world.  They weren't BAD at all, it was just that the execution of them. . .especially with some of the awful, distracting art. . .wasn't great.  I think the regular series would have benefited from a bit of this darker direction from time to time.  The ongoing series AND this set of one shots would have definitely benefited from some better artists.  A damn shame.

Up next. . .

Since DC is forcing the events of Flashpoint back onto the comics map, why not refresh our memories a bit?  DC's 5 issue Flashpoint mini.  Be there or be square!

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