Saturday, January 07, 2012

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Texas Rangers, September 1954

This is another one I've read, and here are the contents:

"Barbed Wire and Bullets", Jackson Cole (Jim Hatfield novel)
"Gun Job", Will Cook (novelette)
"No Second Chance", Giles A. Lutz (novelette)
"The Measuring", Ben Smith (short story)
"Scalp Lock", Talmage Powell (short story)
"Charlie Yawl's Hat", Ben Frank (short story)
plus The Frontier Post by Captain Starr and a few fillers, but no letters column

This is the first issue of Texas Rangers I've read in a while and a surprisingly good one. I say surprisingly because the Jim Hatfield novel is by Roe Richmond, probably my least favorite of the Hatfield authors. Richmond's stories have always bothered me because he has a habit of saddling Hatfield with so many sidekicks that the Lone Wolf is anything but. In this story, however, only one of Richmond's usual supporting characters, outlaw-turned-Ranger Fox Edley, appears, which means that "Barbed Wire and Bullets" isn't that much different from most of Tom Curry's Hatfield novels, many of which also feature a proxy hero to give Hatfield a hand. This story concerns the introduction of barbed wire into the Texas Panhandle and the resulting trouble, and it reads a lot like a Rio Kid novel because of the appearance of historical characters Joseph Glidden (the inventor of barbed wire), cattleman Shanghai Pierce, and range detective Charlie Siringo. Plenty of action here.

The back-up stories are also good. The hero of "Gun Job" is an ex-convict who was sent to prison for shooting his mistress's husband in the back, a crime which he actually committed, but naturally there's more to the story than that. "No Second Chance" is one of the bleakest, most noir Western stories I've read, which I didn't expect from Lutz at all. I've read some of his novels but don't remember them being this dark. "Scalp Lock" is probably the best story in the issue, a character study in which a rancher and the narrator, a young cowboy, pursue the Indians who killed the rancher's wife and son. "The Measuring" is another character study, this one of a man on the run from a hidden past who has to come to terms with it. The only story I didn't finish was "Charlie Yawl's Hat". Just don't care for Ben Frank's writing.

Back to the matter of Richmond's use of sidekicks. In the Forties, Tom Curry gave Hatfield a kid sidekick in some of his stories, and the readers hated it, complaining frequently in the letters column. By the time of this issue, there is no letters column. I have to wonder how the readers felt about Richmond including so many supporting characters in most of his stories. But we'll never know.

All in all, an excellent issue.


George said...

Kid side-kicks get a bad rap. I know many BATMAN fans complained about Robin for years.

Cap'n Bob said...

I hated kid sidekicks. The idea is that they would appeal to other kids and make them identify more with the hero. It didn't work for me.

RJR said...

Wow, haven't heard the name Roe Richmond in a while. I corresponded with him a little back win the 80's when I started writing westerns. Read some of his books and enjoyed them.


Walker Martin said...

I hate the whole sidekick idea. Many B-western films of the 1940's were ruined by the silly acting sidekick. The hero pulps suffered from the sidekicks also, for instance G-8 with Nippy and Bull and Doc Savage with Ham and Monk. Unreadable childish nonsense written for the teenage boy market.