Marvel Comics made a lot of noise about giving The Rawhide Kid his own miniseries back in 2003, but not because the long-forgotten cowboy was returning to comics: The Rawhide Kid was returning as a homosexual character with his own book, which was a first for a relatively controversial segment of comic characters. With this as a selling point, it might be easy to write off the book as a gimmicky attempt to earn mainstream media attention, but it’s actually a very entertaining comic, all minor LGBT themes aside.
The Rawhide Kid needs to save the famous (and not-so-famous) Earps from a Mexican prison before they’re killed, and subsequently assembles some famous names to get the job done: Annie Oakley, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, as well as a few Marvel-specific characters. Unfortunately, Ron Zimmerman’s version of the pseudo-Old West isn’t populated by hard-working, forward-thinking examples of sterling masculinity. Instead, a majority of the populace is humorously stupid and violent, a refreshing and amusing alternative to the more popular visions of the Old West. In this world, The Kid is something of a late-1800s Batman, having trained in all of the hand-to-hand combat methods of the day, except with a pronounced proclivity for guns and handsome men.
Marvel Comics geeks will love The Sensational Seven’s references to modern Marvel continuity, with an exceptional one-panel appearance of Ghost Rider, and Two-Gun Kid recalling his time-travel adventures with The Avengers, establishing this as an in-canon story. There’s also the very comic book-y appearance of seven villains who briefly serve as the “negative” counterparts of the seven assembled heroes, which everyone seems to be very aware of as a kind of fantasy narrative trope, making it even more enjoyable. At least until all seven bad guys are summarily killed without any kind of struggle.
The Rawhide Kid is never in any danger and never seems to get a speck of dirt or blood on his impeccably cleaned cowboy digs, and that’s part of his appeal. It’s not a story that you read because of the impending danger or adventure, because it doesn’t exist in the flawlessly heroic world of The Kid, but it is something you read for amusement. Howard Chakyin’s art is never completely serious, even though it’s excellently dynamic and tells a fun, goofy story with a lot of humor and animation.
The collection is concluded with an original Two-Gun Kid comic from 1967, offering perspective on some of the earlier appearances of these characters.
There’s a lot of blood and Old West violence, as well as themes of familial abuse, mild profanity, and plenty of innuendo as The Kid references his romantic preferences, and the women who love him reference theirs, but The Rawhide Kid’s sexual preferences are really just a footnote in a larger tale of adventure. The references that are made aren’t crass so much as predicate on inoffensive stereotypes of fastidiousness. Ultimately, It’s a fun read for an older, slightly more open-minded audience.
Reviewed by Collin David on December 29, 2010
The Rawhide Kid: The Sensational Seven