Friday, March 05, 2010

Since I'm watching westerns...


Caught the tailend of The War Wagon this morning (as well as a great scene where John Wayne takes back a stolen gun, and offers "The shells are his, and he can come back for them anytime.") and Silverado is on now, so a western post seemed in order: conveniently, by that ever-popular happenstance, Starman #74 was on top of a pile. To those not familiar with the book, Starman probably doesn't sound like a western, but this month it was, with another of the Shade's remembrances of "Times Past" in Opal City. This time, the man with the star is Sheriff Brian Savage, once known as Ke-Woh-No-Tay, and as Scalphunter. And the Shade is sadly recording the details of his friend's death.

As a child, Savage was taken and raised by Kiowa Indians, who gave him the name that translated out to "He Who is Less than Human." Eventually returning to society, Savage became the sheriff of Opal City, which he would defend for several years against threats mundane and mysterious; until, at the end of 1899, Savage is tired, ready to retire, and considering who should replace him. He has several good men, all of whom could do a good job, except for a youngster, Carny O'Dare, too green for it. (Regular Starman readers would recognize the name, the O'Dares were Opal City law for generations.)

Meanwhile, John Melville is enjoying his initiation into the Tuesday Club; which is slightly more brutal and creepy than your average fraternity hazing, and that's saying something. The Tuesday Club is Opal's secret society of businessmen, and also includes a Mr. Arbuthnot; who Savage suspects is trying to muscle out some local store owners. Somewhat surprisingly, Arbuthnot tells Savage about the club, and how they believe their success is all due to Satan, or to that effect, and that they want the store owners' land to build a hotel whether they want to sell or not. Real nice secret society they had once...


Savage isn't one to be scared, or bribed; so the Club moves forward: O'Dare and Savage find the three holdouts, hung; then are bushwhacked. While Savage is able to kill both attackers, he also knows when he was younger, they never would've gotten that close to him.

O'Dare and Savage make their way back to the jail, just in time to see it blow up. All of Savage's men, dead in one swoop. Savage then goes to Arbuthnot to get the names of the Club members, and then he goes on the warpath: he and O'Dare kill the Tuesday Club (and assorted lackeys and hangers-on) over the course of a single night, every last one of them. Well, almost: since Melville (called Jason at one point, John at another) was new to the Club, Arbuthnot neglected to give his name.
In one day?  It's like 24, the western.
When they were done, Savage takes O'Dare to his favorite saloon, and gives O'Dare a letter absolving him of any blame for the killings. (Among other prominent citizens, they had killed a couple councilmen and a judge.) O'Dare wasn't just there because he was following orders, though, and was proud to fight alongside the Sheriff. Savage returns the compliment, but says his sheriffin' days are done, and lays down his star. Melville shoots Savage in the back, before he even finishes the sentence. O'Dare guns Melville down thereafter.

The immortal Shade arrives in time to hear Savage's last words: he claims he'll be back, reincarnated as the hero of Opal City "in a bigger time." He assures O'Dare that he, and his kin, will do fine; and tells the Shade of his son, Steve Savage, but dies before any words for him.

The Shade ends his account by noting that Savage may well have been hung for his revenge on the Club, but in death was honored as a hero, while the Tuesday Club was painted as "villains, to a man." And Carny O'Dare became Sheriff, and doubtless would've been Chief of Police, if not for his death...but, the Shade had enough sad stories for one night.

From Starman #74, "A Tale of Times Past--1899--the Scalphunter Years: His Death and the Dying of It" Written by James Robinson, art by Russ Heath. Like Jonah Hex, Scalphunter is another of DC's western heroes with a set death. And now I can't remember if Bat Lash's demise is recorded yet, and had to search to see if I ever posted on Guns of the Dragon: I didn't? Well, next time I'm on a western kick, I reckon...

3 comments:

天空天來 said...

nice to know you ~........................................

SallyP said...

A very good story...like all the Starman stories. And lets face it, Westerns are just fun.

Susan said...

Picked up this issue a few years back for the Scalphunter stuff, and I'm finally getting around to buying the whole Starman series this year (gotta have something to hunt for at the cons!)

While we're on Westerns, I'd like to make a second offer to you regarding a one-off strip for the site I work for (the first offer was months ago, and I'm not sure if you ever saw it). Specifically, I'm hoping to get a Jonah Hex-centric strip outta you, and this seemed like the right time to ask again. If you're interested, please email me at susanhillwig@gmail.com by May 1st.

Either way, keep up the good work!