Friday, April 26, 2019

Forgotten Books: The Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron - Chuck Dixon

A comic book mini-series about The Lone Ranger (one of my all-time favorite characters), written by Chuck Dixon (one of the best comic book scripters of the past thirty years), and somehow I missed it when it came out back in 2012? How is that possible? Well, thankfully I’ve remedied that oversight and have now read THE LONE RANGER: SNAKE OF IRON.

This isn’t a Weird Western or a Revisionist Western (although it does feature the current, more politically correct version of Tonto rather than the Jay Silverheels version, which I suspect is the way the license holder wants it based on my own experience writing a Lone Ranger story). It’s pure Traditional Western, with the Kiowa going on the warpath and trying to join forces with the Comanche, a train derailed and stranded in a snowy winter Texas landscape, a plucky female newspaper reporter, a little kid in danger, a cavalry patrol, and a touch of Indian mysticism (but not enough to make it a Weird Western). In a bit of a twist, The Lone Ranger and Tonto are apart for most of the series, although it’s inevitable that their storylines will come together in the end, which they do with quite satisfactory results.

Dixon’s script is top-notch, with plenty of action, good characters, the occasional poignant moment, and bits of humor here and there. His Lone Ranger absolutely rings true to the character, and his Tonto lacks the pretentiousness that shows up in some other authors’ versions. I also like the fact that the story takes place in the winter, with snow on the ground, instead of the hot summer like most Westerns set in Texas. The art by Esteve Polls, an artist I’m not familiar with, is good as well, with strong storytelling so I was always able to keep up with what was going on. That’s not always true with modern comics artists. I could quibble a little with some things. There are no towering, snow-capped peaks in the part of Texas where this story takes place, and frontier forts didn’t look like how Fort Griffin is depicted. But that’s just part of the mythology of the Western, and overall I was quite pleased with the art. (Hey, West Texas doesn’t look like Monument Valley, Utah, either, but that doesn’t make THE SEARCHERS any less of a classic film, does it?)

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a curmudgeon and a purist where The Lone Ranger is concerned, so I haven’t liked some of the modern tales featuring the character. But I really enjoyed SNAKE OF IRON and don’t hesitate to recommend it to any Lone Ranger fan. It’s a good yarn.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, James for a fun and informative review. In my opinion, LR rides tallest in the radio series. That view especially applies to the later episodes which had Fred Foy as the announcer.

Jim Meals

Richard Krauss said...

Great review James! Thank you!

Chuck Dixon said...


I am honored by your kind words, air. To get praise from a master of the genre is high praise indeed. I share your regard for the Ranger and Tonto and I'm pleased that you enjoyed our efforts. Esteve is an amazing artist but is from Spain so his Texas geography is a bit off and I think he just wanted to draw the Rockies. Can't argue with the results.