Rough Riders #4

5

Average

RoughRiders4-minShifting 4,888 copies in July 2016, Issue Four of “Rough Riders” certainly ramps up the science fiction element within its ‘wild west’ narrative by both confirming that Spain’s military leader in Cuba is indeed under the control of “little green men from space”, and having Theodore Roosevelt explain to an increasingly agitated Annie Oakley that “the Battle of Little Big Horn was not Custer’s last stand against the Indians”, but was in actuality a combined effort between the cavalry commander and the Native Americans to thwart an alien invasion. Such a shockingly bemusing plot-twist arguably somewhat jars alongside this series’ preceding ‘realistic’ seriousness and is debatably made all the more incongruous by Adam Glass’ rather comical depiction of the United States Army officer literally having a large hole bored through his chest by an extra-terrestrial laser beam, and the aliens’ space-faring vessel being fortuitously destroyed by a few rifle-carrying bare-chested tribesmen; “Luckily, the fierce spirit of the Indians brought that ship down.”

In fact, this rationalisation behind just why the future twenty-sixth President of the United States has brought his ‘expert’ team to the Northern Caribbean may well have caused some of this comic’s audience to have hollered with laughter in a fashion similar to that of “Little Miss Sure Shot”, especially after a singularly stern-faced Thomas Edison produces a dead, Triffid-looking alien symbiote from deep within his brown jacket and theatrically declares that it “was dug out of General Custer’s ear after his death.” Sadly however, even this dubious dabbling into the science-fiction fuelled world of Walter “Jack” Finney does not seem to have been enough for the Georgia-born writer, as he later introduces Harry Houdini to an incarcerated living alien in the shape of Patrick Olliffe’s well-pencilled, yet heavily-manacled, semi-naked female with six eyes and insectoid-shaped lips…

Fortunately, for those bibliophiles who like their fiction a little more factually-based, or at least less speculative, “The Bull Moose” does contain a rather enthralling sub-plot involving Jack Johnson and Rasputin bare-knuckle fighting on the San Juan Heights. This highly prejudicial confrontation, where the racially intolerant mad Russian attempts to prove that “white man is superior to the chernyy”, is disappointingly as short as this action sequence’s pulse-pounding punches are dynamically-drawn, yet still manages to ably demonstrate that the Galveston Giant is perfectly capable of out-thinking an opponent as well as out-boxing them…

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5

Average

Reviewed by
For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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