So here we are, out west in the 1880s and danged if the landscape is plumb covered with outlaws, owlhoots, scofflaws, and neer-do-wells. What's a right thinking young man to do? Well, if you are Jim Larrimore you become the Lone Rider, a mysterious man all in black. And because you never knw when Covid will strike, you wear a black handkerchief over your face. Not only does that protect you and others from Covid, but it also makes you anonymous. And being a mysterious crime fighter is also pretty cool.
And since you have to have a horse, yours is named Lightnin' because it has a Harry Potter-like streak on its forehead.
This issue has two Lone Rider stories. "The Laughing Bandit" has the Lone Rider going on a cattle buying trip for the Brand X Ranch (and for the lovely blonde eye candy, Miss Rita). The cattle-robbing Laughing Bandit, a pure-dee killer, has been plaguing the area. Since few comics in the early Fifties were reluctant to portray racial and ethic stereotypes. the Laughing Bandit is a seemingly foolish Mexican whose speech comes straight out of Speedy Gonzales and the Frito Bandito. No one realizes that his appearance is just a mask -- in more ways than one. To trap the Bandit, the Lone Rider must use Miss Rita as bait.
In "Devil Dirt," gold has been disappearing from a mine in Cactus Slope at the rate of a pound a day. The mine is owned by a beautiful Indian maid who was given it by her aged father "for the tribe to prosper." (The girl is never named despite being central to the story, Huh?) Then people start dying, not shot but stabbed with n unusual instrument. The bad guy captures the Indian girl and ties her up in the mine, giving her a chance to show off her legs in a short dress. It's up to the Lone Rider to save the day.
One of the Lone Rider's friends is the Indian Golden Arrow/Swift Arrow. (He was originally called Golden Arrow, a name that was given him in five issues, but it turned out another comic book publisher had a character of the name so he became Swift Arrow after this iss..) In "The Arrow in the Stone," Arrow's tribe selects its leader in a mysterious ceremony never before seen by white men. Because the Lone Rider is Arrow's blood brother he is allowed to view the ceremony as Arrow competes to once again be named leader. To become or remain leader one must pull out an arrow imbedded in a large stone. Can Arrow do that when others fail? And if so, how?
Some gun-toting varmint is sneaking around the Old Hermit's cabin, so the old man conks him in the head with a frying pan. Turns out the bad guy is Black Ace, a wanted killer. The old hermit ties up Black Ace and leaving Bright Feather, a young Indian boy, to watch over the outlaw, the Old Hermit hops on his stubborn mule Betsy to get the sheriff. While he's gone, Black Ace manages to overcome the boy and starts a fire, leaving the young lad to burn. Black Ace then goes after the Old Hermit because "No man puts lumps on Black Ace's haid an' lives very long." Gulp!
To hark back on a time when heroes were heroes, bad men were evil, and Indians were more often than not redskins, follow the link.
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