Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Magazine Enterprises, a small comic book publisher, managed to snag a couple of popular western characters for their magazines.  In addition to their regular titles, the characters appeared in the quarterly anthology comic book Best of the West.  The first issue featured radio's Indian hero Straight Arrow, Charles Starrett's popular movie character The Durango Kid, radio's Bobby Benson's B-Bar-B Riders, and the original Ghost Rider.  Bobby Benson was bumped in issue #2 to give way for Tim Holt as a regular in Best of the West.  This line-up continued until the last issue (#12) in which Straight Arrow and Tim Holt were replaced by Red Hawk and Red Mask.

Issue #1 starts off with "Giant Killer!"  In a David and Goliath story, Comanche Straight Arrow is pitted against the Crow giant Pow-Tah-Kan in battle.  (Pow-Tah-Kan is so large he cannot ride a horse and has to use a war chariot.)  When I said a David and Goliath story, I meant that literally.

"Death on the Buffalo Trail" features The Durango Kid.  Remember when slaughtering buffalo for their hides was thought to be a good idea?  Well, a gang of owlhoots has been killing buffalo hunters for their hides and money -- which ticks off Steve Brand (The Durango Kid*) when his buddy Brancy is murdered.  To catch the baddies, Steve and his sidekick Muley join the "Buffalo Trail."  Soon enough, The Durango Kid identifies the bad guys and finds himself caught between their blazing guns and a stampeding herd of buffalo -- certain death from two fronts!  Well, not so certain.  We know The Durango Kid will prevail somehow.

Young Bobby Benson and his B-Bar-B Riders are in the north country where, for a change, they come across "The Timber Rustlers" instead of cattle rustlers.  Bobby suspect Jud Jenson, the foreman of the Collins Timber Ranch, to be behind the timber rustling but Collins finds that hard to believe.   Bobby and Collins' young Daughter Cathy manage to catch Jenson in the act but Cathy is captured and Bobby goes logrolling in an attempt to escape.  The bad guys shoot at the logs, causing Bobby to fall off.  Our boy hero does not get crushed by the logs however and must try to rescue Cathy and capture Jenson and his gang.  Can he do it?  Be still my beating heart!

Rex Fury, the original, non-supernatural Ghost Rider, faces off against a cunning band of Kiowa raiders.  The Indians have forced the telegraph operator at the Jophar Wireless Station to send a false message to the nearby Army fort that the Indians are raiding far-off Sable Falls.  Leaving the fort guarded by just two men, the army rides off in full strength -- giving the Kiowa an opportunity to raid the fort for guns and much-needed supplies.  The Indians did not count on a third person being at the fort -- the Ghost Rider!  By the time the Ghost Rider arrives at the fort , the raid has commenced and the two soldiers guarding the fort have been swiftly killed.  Rex, clad all in white, with a flowing cape and bone-white hood (and his pure white steed Spectre), fill the superstitious Indians with terror.  The Kiowa retreat for the moment, allowing another person to enter the fort -- Sing-Song, Rex's Chinese cook.  Together, they prepare several spooky surprises for the Indians as the Kiowa chief Tecmahseh urges his men to attack once more.  Pity the poor Indians.

Good art by Fred Meagher, Joe Certa, Bob Powell, Dick Ayers, and (I believe) Frank Frazetta back up these solid stories, which may have been written by Gardner Fox.


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