This issue reads like an issue of the Chuck Dixon-penned “Green Arrow” series from the 1990s – quick, dirty, and action-packed. The action turns this issue into a page-burner as Lone Ranger and Cavendish have a confrontation that has been building up since this series’ start.
Cariello’s art is dirty and rough, carrying a tone similar to Joe Kubert’s. The combined efforts of Cariello and Pinto make every page feel as though honest-to-goodness frontier dust is blowing through it, sand-blasting and toughening up the characters on the pages and causing the reader to have to squint to avoid getting any in his eyes. It’s an appropriate look for the adventures of the Lone Ranger. The sparse background further adds depth, dimension, and detail to the characters as they struggle with their decisions, their environs, and their co-stars.
While this issue sets out with a purpose in mind, it doesn’t quite reach resolution. The confrontation between the Ranger and Cavendish is prominent, and Matthews makes the confrontation quite violent, but draws it out for suspense by interspersing Tonto’s journey. The end result is not so much a decompressed issue as much as it is a balanced issue, teetering between the burdens of the two heroes. Matthews ends this issue with a cliffhanger, and somewhere you can almost hear audible gasps as the listeners and viewers of Lone Ranger from yesteryear lean forward in their seats, shocked by the ending and anxious for the next serialized episode.
My biggest gripe is the faux text in the Ranger’s speech bubble as the battle between he and Cavendish appears to be drawing to a close. If you’re going to have a character mumble inaudibly, and put text in the word balloon, at least put real words into the balloon. If you’re not going to use real words then don’t fill it with junk. Have the contents of the balloon be a series of lines, squiggles, or redactions. The placeholder text employed here is sloppy and distracting. Of course, that may be my inner art director and print production manager rising up from the past and butting in where they aren’t wanted.
Unfortunately for the reader, the next episode – that next four-color installment of the Lone Ranger - is a month away. The calamity that ends this issue is sure to stick with the reader until next month though. It’s clear, gruff, and brutal. What happens next is critical to the continuation of this series.