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Ten Cowboy Comics That Prove the Western Isn’t Dead

This week on Comic Book Men, the guys look at one of the earliest genres to gain popularity in the comic world: the Western. Though the “Cowboy Comic” has lost its popularity over the years, there is no denying its pulpy historical relevance. As Walt points out in this week’s episode, the Lone Ranger was “wearing a mask well before any superheroes did.” Maybe the time has come to jump back on the horse again. Here’s a primer on ten comic book Westerns to get you started:

1. Wild Western, created by Stan Lee
If we need to know where we came from to know where we’re going, Wild Western is a great place to start. First published by Atlas comics, a forerunner to Marvel Comics, Wild Western introduced some of the most influential comic book cowboys, including Kid Colt, Two-Gun Kid and Arizona Annie.

2. Rawhide Kid, created by Stan Lee
One of Marvel’s most prolific Western heroes, Rawhide Kid is a heroic gunslinger who is unjustly hunted as an outlaw. Originally appearing in 1955, the character has had incarnations up until the present, and can be seen as a guest star in titles like The Avengers and West Coast Avengers.

3. Two-Gun Kid, created by Stan Lee
Two-Gun Kid is the alter ego of two Marvel vigilantes: Clay Harder and Matt Liebowicz. Two-Gun Kid enjoys full integration into the current Marvel Universe and is featured in runs like Marvel’s Civil War and The Avengers.

4. Kid Colt Outlaw, created by Stan Lee
Kid Colt deserves a spot on the list for a few reasons, most notably because he holds the title as the longest running cowboy star in American comic book publishing. Often appearing in crossovers with other cowboys like Two-Gun Kid and Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt’s solo run ran from 1949-1979. He can even be seen in The Avengers (1975), The Fantastic Four (2000) and Black Panther (2002).

5. East of West, created by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta
Entering into the 21st century, East of West is often lauded as one of most creative modern Western incarnations in comics. A science-fiction Western set in an American dystopia in which the Civil War never ended, East of West employs the four horsemen of the Apocalypse as its main characters, with a brooding Clint Eastwood-type cowboy as Death, the protagonist.

6. Preacher, created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Another modern classic, Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer and his companions on the hunt for God himself, who has absconded from His throne. Preacher is an amalgamation of genres, including horror, comedy and adventure, Preacher chiefly draws on the Western for most of its thematic and stylistic elements. The series even features John Wayne as a spiritual guide for Jesse in times of unrest.

7. Scalped, created by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra
Scalped is a Western-noir that tells the story of the Oglala Lakota, inhabitants of the fictional Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in South Dakota, as they struggle with organized crime, rampant poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism, local politics and the preservation of their cultural identity. Already lauded as a modern classic, Scalped broke new ground in Western fiction for its difficult subject matter and eclectic cast of characters.

8. Jonah Hex/All-Star Western, created by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga
Despite a poorly-received movie adaptation, Jonah Hex remains one of the most iconic cowboys in comic books. Surly and anti-social, Hex is nonetheless bound by the classic cowboy code of honor: to protect and avenge the innocent. He is currently the star of DC’s All-Star Western, a New 52 reboot set in Gotham City in the 1880s.

9. Pretty Deadly, created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos
Though a relative newcomer, Pretty Deadly has garnered critical acclaim as a classic Western with a feminist twist. The story is mixed with elements of dark fantasy and mythological horror, following Death’s daughter as she rides toward retribution on a horse made of smoke.

10. Sixth Gun, created by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt
Taking place shortly after the end of the Civil War, Sixth Gun is another genre-bending Western about six magic pistols that each contain a different power and binds to its wielder until death. Since 2012, the series has been nominated for two Eisner Awards and three Harvey Awards.

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