The Lone Ranger rides again
In the heyday of Western comics The Lone Ranger was a popular read from 1948 on, with Western Publishing (a partner of Dell) releasing 145 issues, mostly reworkings of newspaper strip cartoons.
Tonto got his own spin-off title in 1951, which lasted 31 issues, and so popular was the masked rider that even Silver had a comic, The Lone Ranger's Famous Horse Hi-Yo Silver, starting in 1952 and running 34 issues. Dell also produced Lone Ranger annuals.
Gold Key Comics launched its own series in 1964 but they were mostly reprints of the Dell efforts; original content did not begin until issue #22 in 1975, and the magazine itself folded with #28 in 1977.
In 1994, Topps Comics produced a four-issue miniseries, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, written by Joe R. Lansdale and drawn by Timothy Truman. In these, Tonto was shown to be an outspoken character, even willing to punch the Lone Ranger during an argument, and commenting on his past pop-culture depictions with the words, "Of course, quimo sabe. Maybe when we talk I should use that 'me Tonto' stuff, the way they write about me in the dime novels. You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Progress, you see.
The first of Dynamite’s book-format collected Lone Ranger comics came out in 2007 and covered numbers 1 to 6 of their comics, which had started the year before, with some additional material. It was dark, quite violent and really rather good. The following year Dynamite brought out comics 7 to 11 in a volume entitled Lines Not Crossed which continued the story in the same, slightly sinister vein. The series is not for kiddies.
The same team is responsible, notably artists Sergio Cariello and writer Brett Matthews, with the addition of a sequence about a wolf drawn by Paul Pope. The visual quality remains high, with the exception of (only) one or two less well drawn pages.
The story continues the pursuit of the dastardly Butch Cavendish, scheming railroad man responsible for the murderous ambush of the noble Texas Rangers. It introduces Rafael, a young Mexican man who is ambiguously portrayed: we are not sure of he is a goody or baddy. He doesn’t finish well, though. We get a pretty good inkling, however, of his level of good/badness when he shoots the Lone Ranger with a derringer. As all Westernistas know, derringers are for dudes, gamblers, saloon gals and crooks (indeed, Butch himself uses one in the 1947 pilot movie Enter the Lone Ranger), and not the weapons of real men.
The principal characters continue to be represented in a much harder, tougher way than fans of the early comics, the TV series or the spin-off movies were used to, but this is not a criticism. Tonto, especially, is no meek factotum. He is really quite a scary Indian.
The Ranger’s huge silver mine resembles Batman’s cave and of course there is a similarity between the two masked vigilantes.
I liked the way a score of the William Tell Overture was lying on the piano in a saloon as the Ranger galloped past.
The binding of my (amazon-supplied) copy was poor and the pages broke from the spine on first reading.
There is now a whole series of these comics, if you are interested:
The Lone Ranger Vol. 1 (160 pages, Collects The Lone Ranger #1–6)
The Lone Ranger Vol. 2 Lines Not Crossed (128 pages, Collects The Lone Ranger #7–11)
The Lone Ranger Vol. 3 Scorched Earth (144 pages, Collects The Lone Ranger #12–16)
The Lone Ranger Vol. 4 Resolve (Collects The Lone Ranger #17–25)
The Lone Ranger Vol. 5 Hard Country (Collects The Lone Ranger Volume 2 #1–6)
The Lone Ranger Vol. 6 Native Ground (Collects The Lone Ranger Volume 2 #7–12)
The Lone Ranger & Tonto (128 pages)
The Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron (92 pages)
The Dynamite series received an Eisner Awards nomination for best new series in 2007. True West magazine awarded the publication the "Best Western Comic Book of the Year" in their 2009 Best of The West Source Book! And in 2010 Dynamite released The Lone Ranger Avenges the Death of Zorro, an interesting mix: of course both were masked avengers.