No one ever said the Wild West was fun. It was a place where war was hell, and it was also pretty constant. Men fought private wars over money, stature and location. Men fought wars within themselves over their choices. And one man fights an ongoing war to uphold justice. The Lone Ranger isn’t the main character of this debut issue; instead, he’s the catalyst of striving positivity amidst an austere and sad world. That Ande Parks made this choice is absolutely a good thing.
This issue might be labeled as the first in an arc, and there is room to build, but the story contained here can be enjoyed completely on its own with a satisfying conclusion. This is how more debut issues should be handled: make the reader understand a wholistic story involving this character and world, and offer some aspect that opens later into the wider narrative landscape. If you only sample this issue, you’ll be happy you did. However, after this quality you’ll most likely want what’s to come next.
Parks fills these pages with many voices. We get an old timey editor, we get cinematic legend John Ford, we get the eponymous hero, and we also get the sad musings of a man named Nathan Jurgens. This new character endures such heartache and has a future horizon so bleak that his presence soaks into the pages and will hold you enthralled. The patois might throw you off and it is almost heavy handed, except that it’s just so engaging and downright miserable. This man needs a win, and one the Lone Ranger can give him. Yet we know that win isn’t going to erase the past defeat. Nothing can, or ever will.
This ability of the untamed landscape to instantly redirect your life and make every choice leading to this turn feel like your biggest life mistakes is the brutal truth of an unknown world. Parks isn’t giving us a rosy world for the Ranger to ply his trade in. He might be able to clean up a mess and still look pretty but he won’t always be there to stop the catastrophe in the first place. The brutal truth is that no one will be. If chance turns its back on you then you’ll be damned, and forevermore.
Esteve Polls plays with action and setting well. His world feels full and inhabited. He certainly draws a fantastic guns blazing entrance for our hero. The main problem is that Polls needs to essay a lot of emotion on these pages and his style doesn’t always match the subtlety needed. The colors from Marcelo Pinto don’t help to accentuate his nuances at all. His trampling horses come through the dust pretty and yet his human faces are blotchy and distracting. These flaws won’t slap you off the page, so it’s not major, but they also won’t draw you deeper into the story.
“The Lone Ranger” is a character entrenched in society as a virtue, a caricature, and this issue plays him as such and is all the better for it. Delving into the world, and the worldview, of this time and place gives me a better sense of this title than hearing any speeches about justice every could. If you like a tidy western yarn then this tale, which feels done in one, is just for you. It’ll break your heart and make you feel.