Thursday, May 26, 2022

Go West, Young Superhero

Part of the American mythos is the opportunity for self-reinvention, not just for Madonna, but for all of us.   

Just more frequently for Madonna.

Coming to America was, by definition, an opportunity for a new start. For those already in America, the opportunity for a new start is often represented by setting off for new territories, by "going West, young man.

America, where a gay South African punk bank drummer can reinvent himself as the New Authentic Voice of American Country Music without anyone batting an eyelash.

Western-set shows have seen a new renaissance on television, including attention-grabbers like Westworld, Yellowstone and its spin-off 1883, Outer Range, Wynonna Earp, Billy The Kid.  Although some are more traditional throwbacks to Gunsmoke-era cowboy shows, others are much wilder blends of science fiction, mystery, or magical realism with Western settings. That is, they are shows that are taking the opportunity to reinvent Western style and lore itself in a modern context.

Apparently there's money, I mean, artistic opportunity, in that.

This renaissance by way of reinvention for the Country/Western genre has happened in pop music and television and there seems to be an audience; why not comic books?

There's a LOT of people who live in the West/Southwest. 

None of whom I actually KNOW, of course. But someone has to make things like cows and oil and agave happen.

Those people might enjoy seeing their local culture, setting, and history represented in a comic book. So, too, readers of Hispanic heritage, or ones with simply less urban backgrounds.  In my research on the original Wild Dog, I learned that one of the main motivations behind it was to produce a comic book set in the heartland (the Quad Cities) rather than the East Coast.   

There certainly have been comics set in either "Western" areas or with Western(ish) characters in the DCU.  The modern Blue Beetle was a Hispanic character who lived in the Southwest, for example.  But it's been too sporadic, too uncoordinated to make an impact.  You know me: I like structured dynasties!  So together let's start examining over the next few posts just exactly how you could reinvent existing DCU Western(ish) properties to breathe some life back into them.

Fortunately, masks and silly costumes are not a problem.

Our first stop is a brief list of the Usual Suspects: the characters most strongly associated with DC's history of publishing Western comics. We will discuss these in further detail in our next posts.

The Classical: Vigilante, Nighthawk, and the Trigger Twins

The Weird Westerns: Jonah Hex, El Diablo, and Scalphunter

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