Best Shots Extra: The Lone Ranger #14

Best Shots Extra: The Lone Ranger #14

The Lone Ranger #14

From: Dynamite

Writer: Brett Matthews

Art: Sergio Cariello

Color: Marcelo Pinto of Impacto Studio

Lettering: Simon Bowland

Cover: John Cassaday

Part Three of the “Scorched Earth” arc pulls off the trick of being totally accessible for new readers. Sure, you have a benefit if you’ve been following the revamped adventures of the Lone Ranger and Tonto from the beginning of the book, but it’s a rare third part these days that allows one to pick it up cold and feel in on the action. Wrapped in an iconic John Cassaday cover that demonstrates the long-delayed adoption of the classic costume, the book manages to be a good solid read on just about every front.

One of the best things about this book is easily Tonto. From the outset, Matthews has shown us the quiet power and dangerous nature of the man. What he’s evolved at the same time are Tonto’s flashes of biting wit and deadpan humor. As the duo (together with the Commissioner Gordon-esque Sheriff Loring) conduct an investigation into a series of brutal murders, Tonto encounters unexpected cheer from the townsfolk (who appear to just be happy to have someone handling their business) at the same time as he hears casual racism from the bartender. Tonto’s response to the crowd is self-deprecating and funny as it sly pokes at the character’s history of interpretation across media.

Matthews also depicts the Ranger well, deftly bridging the gap between the character’s status as an incorruptible icon and his humanity. The Ranger is deeply troubled by the carnage that he and his allies have witnessed, and his sense of moral outrage is evident. As he moves from to tenderness in dealing with a traumatized child to the steely professionalism of justice-drive avenger, this version of the Lone Ranger emerges as a terrific embodiment of past versions delivered in a modern aesthetic.

Speaking of aesthetics, the art by Cariello continues to impress. His Kubertesque leanings are perfectly well-suited to this book, and his occasional minimalism (particularly when it comes to showing just enough of a ravaged body to make a point) is smartly played. My one nitpick about the art is the way that the mask sometimes looks; it occasionally sits on the Ranger’s nose like it’s a hardpiece (like Batman’s mask) rather than fabric that would show the contour of the face (as Cassaday does on the cover). Perhaps it’s an effect of the aforementioned minimalism, but I find it occasionally distracting.

Overall, The Lone Ranger has been entertaining from the start, but I now feel a sense of drive from the title that underscores how serious Dynamite is about turning familiar properties into vital characters for today’s audience.

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