I think one of the greatest characters ever imagined in any genre is the Lone Ranger. Itís a simple idea really; a manís family is slaughtered, heís left for dead, and heís saved by a Native American, dons a mask and seeks out revenge against outlaws, all the while conforming to the moral code of justice. The Lone Ranger is a true icon of American television and probably holds as much water as The Man With No Name when it comes to the Western genre. However, the Lone Ranger doesnít get the coverage he so rightfully deserves, in fact, the latest and possibly greatest incarnation of the character has sparked a bit of controversy.
The Lone Ranger from Dynamite is a new and more modern take on the character. Many longtime Lone Ranger fans havenít liked this interpretation because it is dark, the Lone Ranger is a bit brooding, and Tonto borders the line of being a cold-blooded killer. But letís face reality; the West was a violent and corrupt place where things could get dark and brooding and many men could only survive by killing. This is where Brett Matthewsí take on the character comes in. I feel that this interpretation of the Lone Ranger is true to what we now know of the Old West and perfectly meshes with the character and personality of the Lone Ranger. While this issue is more or less a set-up for the coming storyline, Matthews takes the time to focus on the Lone Ranger and the dilemma of his own moral ambiguity.
The Lone Rangerís arch-nemesis, Butch Cavendish, has returned to Texas and wants to kill the Lone Ranger. In turn, the Lone Ranger wants to find Cavendish and bring him to justice. This is a fairly slow-paced issue but itís easy to figure out what Matthews is doing. He is simply putting all the players in place, almost like a chess game between the Lone Ranger and Cavendish. Both men want to get at each otherís throats but the Lone Ranger needs a bit of help along the way while Cavendish has to manipulate and threaten a few people along the way. Itís a nice balance of good versus evil, corruption versus justice and Matthews handles it very well. Even down to the Sheriff recruiting the Lone Ranger, thereís no lack of build-up in this issue. But the angle with Cavendish is paralleled by the angle with the Lone Rangerís sister-in-law and nephew. On the one hand, thereís the chaos of the life of the Lone Ranger and on the other, thereís a sense of normalcy, something the Lone Ranger seems to yearn for.
The character exploration as the Lone Ranger discusses his role and his life first with Winthrop and then with his sister-in-law and nephew is truly the highlight of this issue. The reason for using silver bullets is powerful; the inner struggle between revenge, doing whatís necessary and the vows he took when becoming the Lone Ranger draws the reader in to the point where you can almost feel his pain. One thing that Brett Matthews does particularly well is pulls the reader into the same moral dilemma as the Lone Ranger. As a reader, I want to see the Lone Ranger kill Cavendish, but as a fan of the character, I donít want to see the Lone Ranger break his vows and teeter that line between revenge and justice. This is also a source of the seriesí controversial nature; something Matthews plays off of extremely well.
The artwork by Sergio Cariello is solid and definitely captures the style and tone of Matthewsí story. My only really critique on the artwork is that there are times when the Lone Rangerís weight seems to fluctuate. Thereís a bit of inconsistency in the size of his neck and jaw, but other than that, Carielloís artwork is fantastic. Dynamite has really played their cards well when it comes to the Western genre, both Cariello and Wellington Dias (on The Man With No Name) capture the landscapes, the look and the feel of the Old West. With the exception of the aforementioned jaw and neck on the Lone Ranger, Carielloís art is consistent, beautifully rendered and truly fits here.
Overall, this is a solid issue of The Lone Ranger. While it does move fairly slowly, there is some great development in terms of the main character. While it took quite some time for this book to be released, I really hope it gets on a normal shipping schedule because the title has the potential for some great drama and suspense in the upcoming storyline.
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