Western Action # 1, February 1975

“Birth of a Badman!”

Script: Larry Lieber

Art: Doug Wildey

The Corbett family arrive in Cody, Wyoming to take over the running of the farm left to them after the death of a relative. Cody is a wild frontier town full of danger to the newcomers. Instantly they are threatened with death unless they give up the farm to local bigwig Blackwell, who wants it for the water found there. Pa Corbett refuses, and gets himself and his missus blown away.

Corbett junior is in town on an errand, and goes to the aid of “Old Logan” a one-eyed wreck of a man — the sad remnant of someone who was once the fastest gun in the west. Corbett offers the tramp a meal at the farm, and the pair head for home. Once there they discover the grisly remains of the Corbetts.

Old Logan helps Corbett bury his parents, and, when the kid swears revenge, he teaches him everything he ever knew about gun slinging. Corbett is a fast learner, and the pair go after Blackwell. It’s all over very quickly, but Corbett — now known as Kid Cody — realises that the law will be after him.

He and Logan ride off into the sunset.

“Vengeance Trail”

Story: Steve Skeates

Art: Jack Abel and Allen Milgrom

When he spots a farmhouse aflame following an attack by outlaws, a young man goes to the aid of a dying old man and a child. The old guy soon dies after imploring the young man to take care of the boy. This triggers memories for the man, for he is “The Comanche Kid”, a white child raised as an Indian following the death of his own parents. He was then disowned by the tribe after he hesitated when a lion pounced on him and his Indian “brother”, resulting in the latter’s death. He carries the guilt around as he wanders a lonely road.

He takes the boy to town, but is there set upon by the same outlaws that destroyed the farmhouse. Unfortunately, no one is willing to help the Comanche Kid as the outlaws effectively own the town. However, he overcomes his guilt and gathers the courage to fight the overwhelming odds — and wins.

With his wounds tended, he leaves the boy in the care of the local hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, and rides off into the sunset.

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Though Jeff Rovin was brought in as the Editor in Chief of Atlas there were too many titles for him to oversee personally, so Larry Lieber was lured over from Marvel to look after half the line. Lieber, of course, is the brother of Stan Lee, and so his appointment was seen as something of a coup for Atlas — and Lieber was keen to step out from his brother’s shadow and show what he could do on his own. Sadly for him, things didn’t go well.

Western Action was one of Lieber’s titles. While Rovin’s initial lineup had some degree of originality, Lieber’s were almost all entirely derivative of Marvel. That’s probably not his fault, it’s what he was brought in to do: Goodman wanted his new venture to be a new Marvel. At Marvel, Lieber had mainly done work on the war and western books, and this book shows that influence heavily.

Doug Wildey does a nice job on the art for the Kid Cody origin, but it’s hardly his best work. Kid Comanche, on the other hand, is totally forgettable. Skeates was far better than this. The only point of interest is that the pencils are by Jack Abel, better known as an inker, with inks by Al Milgrom, better known — in my mind at any rate — as an penciler!

The cover, inevitably, is by Larry Lieber. Needless to say, Kid Cody and the Comanche Kid never appeared again.

©2010 Atlas/Seaboard Periodicals/the respective copyright holder