The Middle Ground #19: Hi Yo, Silver Lining

It was only a few weeks ago in this very space that I was complaining about Dynamite's treatment of The Green Hornet, but this week, I guess, is the yang to that yin. Finally catching up on stacks and stacks of comics around me recently, you see, I remembered just how much I love their The Lone Ranger series.

There are so many reasons why that shouldn't be the case. For one thing, I really don't like westerns, as a matter of course. I don't know if it's a generational thing, or simply a stupid prejudice, but cowboys have always left me cold. Their outfits looked ridiculous, and their adventures dull: Why couldn't they have had more outrageous enemies, or guns that shot lasers instead of bullets, I always thought in the back of my mind. What's with this whole "...and Indians" thing? Isn't that kind of racist? and so on, and so on.

I can remember, growing up and my father being so into westerns on television while I would sit, silently hoping that Darth Vader or whoever would suddenly appear and show these old guys what it means to be exciting. For another, The Lone Ranger is not exactly what you'd call a fast-moving comic; the current storyline, "Resolute," is already seven issues long, and the antagonist hasn't managed to come face to face with the Ranger yet. As someone who's often complained about the dangers of what we old school internet curmudgeons used to call "decompression," I should be irritated as hell about that.

And yet.

And yet, The Lone Ranger is just so good. Yes, it's slow, but it's wonderfully deliberate that every panel counts, nonetheless; the impossibly slow build to the confrontation at the climax of the current storyline - which, itself, is the resolution of the series to date - is wonderfully tense, masterfully building anticipation with each new twist and turn, and reminiscent of some of the best recent television dramas. The western aspect is toned down, and the cliches (Especially the role of Tonto) overturned by new takes that manage to feel fresh and familiar, at the same time.

(It's also worth noting that, although I think that Lone Ranger is just a wonderfully done series from a creative standpoint, it's really given the chance to be succeed by being the only Lone Ranger series Dynamite publish, and being allowed to run on an irregular schedule that's allowed the same creators to work on each and every issue, keeping momentum going on creatively even when publication-wise, things may seem a little shakier.)

With each and every issue, writer Brett Matthews and artist Sergio Cariello - along with cover artist and, I believe, art director, John Cassaday - quietly but assuredly take my prejudices out behind the woodshed and give them a good kicking. Every single issue is a reminder that there's no such thing as a tired, lifeless genre, just tired and lifeless stories overwhelming a genre.

Although I'd still happily read a Lone Ranger vs. Darth Vader oneshot, if someone could make that happen.

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