The Lone Ranger #1
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Bob Q
Lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
A war is brewing on the Texas plains, and only one man stands in its way. The third volume in Dynamite Entertainment’s take on The Lone Ranger is a bit over expository, but takes a more theatrical, pulpy track with the famed masked man and his faithful steed. Helmed by The Flintstones and The Snagglepuss Chronicles’ Mark Russell and graced with a keen kineticism by the art and dusty colors of Bob Q, this new debut introduces a war for land, the fires of the conflict stoked by greedy land barons, politicians, and barbed wire. While other volumes took a more realistic directions, this new Lone Ranger series looks to hitch to a more fun, bombastic post while still delivering vintage silver screen action.
The year is 1887, and the place is Deaf Smith County, Texas. Honest ranchers are just trying to make a living when they come across a wicked fence of barbed wire cutting through their land thanks to the new “property lines” robber barons have established, brought on by the invention of the “devil’s rope.” The image and idea of the wire is central to Mark Russell’s first story, and it makes for a really evocative image. Though he gets kind of bogged down in selling the idea, especially in a later scene of the all the story’s villains basically explaining how and why everything they are doing is evil, the image and implication of the wire on the county and how it has ratcheted up the tension between the diverse population of Russell’s Texas is a real strength of this debut.
But this isn’t all just evil monologuing and meditations on the early days of ranching. Russell and Bob Q also deliver a humdinger of a western action sequence. Having come across the latest bloody dispute over property lines, the Lone Ranger tracks the villains back to their hideout, the aforementioned expository gathering of baddies, including a corrupt, former plantation-owning U.S. Senator (shocking, I know) and several other thinly veiled racist landowners and ranchers. Hearing their plan to plunge the country into war over ranch lands, the Ranger aims to strike an early blow against the cabal and warn his seemingly estranged partner, Tanto, about the conflict.
This sequence finds the issue kicking up into a trot and really allowing artist Bob Q some time center stage. Q’s pencils are a touch cartoonish, but he really nails heightened expressions and his action sequences are always so clear, yet fun. His work really reminds me of the work of Dan Schoening on the IDW Ghostbusters books. In the inky black moonlight, the Ranger sets up one hell of a Chekov’s Gun in the form of a barrel of gunpowder and then gets to snooping. He, of course, is discovered and the bullets and hooves start flying as he and Silver have to make a hasty retreat. The scene is peppered with eye-grabbing SFX from letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, but both Q and Russell prove early that they are capable of handling the bombastic, two-fisted action required from the property, but with an edge of clever expressionism underneath.
Starting a new volume of a title, especially after some long-running and fairly well-regarded runs, can be tougher than shoe leather. But Mark Russell and Bob Q take that challenge and spin a compelling yarn in the face of it, one with built in room to grow, a fantastic central totem with all the barbed wire, and a firm handle on the visual language of the Ranger and his exploits. While some readers might be turned off by its theatricality or its fracturing of the relationship between the Ranger and Tonto, Dynamite Entertainment's new Lone Ranger #1 takes a bold first step for its third volume.