With Cowboys & Aliens moseying up for a worldwide release Friday, the western genre is on the minds of the general public – and comics is no different. Western drama has had a long history in the comics medium, and it continues to this day with DC’s Jonah Hex and Dynamite’s Lone Ranger comics. But just as there was more than two gunslingers in the Old West, there’s more than two cowpokes this side of the Rio Grande. Here’s our list of the Top 5 Comic Book Cowboys, and then you get your shot to name the best!
5. Dusty Star
Move over, Cinammon! Maybe I’m biased, but the short-lived Image series Dusty Star from the late 90s has continued to live large in my mind (and longbox). Created and illustrated by Andrew Robinson (Starman, Hawkman), this story of six guns, cyborgs and a raven bangs cowgirl is a definite bigshot. Robinson has big plans for Dusty Star coming up at IDW.
4. Bat Lash
Although he might be one of the more jovial members of the cowboy comics clique, Bartholemew “Bat” Lash carries a large stature in the realm of DC westerns. Created by an all-star brain trust of Sergio Aragones, Sheldon Mayer, Carmine Infantino and Joe Orlando in the wake of the spaghetti western movies of the 1960s, Bat Lash was both a gunslinger, gambler and one to make with the guffaws.
3. The Rawhide Kid
Although Marvel is best known these days for their super-heroes, for a time they were a Western publisher and Rawhide Kid was their regular Spider-Man. Created by Stan Lee in partnership with artist Bob Brown (Challengers of the Unknown), the diminutive Rawhide Kid was soft-spoken but knew where to take a stand against evil. In recent years, Marvel has revealed the Rawhide Kid as an openly gay western character in a pair of miniseries drawn by stars such as John Severin and Howard Chaykin.
Although virtually unheard of in traditional American comics circles, the Franco-Belgian comics cowboy Blueberry is a verifiable legend about European comics fans and the more-discerning international comics readers. Created by Moebius & Jean-Michel Charlier, the titular hero Blueberry is a former American Confederate soldier who rebels against his leaders in the Civil War, and becomes a renegade wandering the American plains. Both Marvel & Dark Horse translated and published some of the Blueberry stories in the mid-80s and early 90s, but those books are long out-of-print. This author hopes with the recent collection of The Incal that a revitalized Blueberry will come to American shores soon.
1. Jonah Hex
Movie be damned, Jonah Hex remains the resident comics cowboy with a long string of stories at DC going from the Old West of the 1800s to the modern day and even some future stories. Sold into slavery to the Apache by his white father, he grew up a bounty hunter high on attitude but low on dialogue. Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti have revitalized the character with their long-running Jonah Hex series that is transitioning this fall to an All-Western comic series.