Thursday, February 02, 2012

Weird Western Tales #40 "The Mark of a Warrior!"

Weird Western Tales #40 June 1977
"The Mark of a Warrior!"
Michael Fleisher, story - Dick Ayers and George Evans, art - George Evans, cover

It's been awhile so you might want to catch-up here.

Southwest Missouri, 1862. Miss Masefield, a blonde woman, is riding in a buckboard with Ed, a black man that works for her. Miss Masefield runs a newspaper and Ed is scared of what she has been writing, it might stir up trouble. Of course, it means trouble for Ed because at that very minute he gets shot in the chest.

Several men wearing white masks ride up and pull all of the papers out of the wagon. It seems that Miss Masefield is an abolitionist and declares so in her papers. The men set fire to the papers and then tear open the front of her dress when an arrow suddenly strikes one man in the chest. They all turn to see a horse with no rider bearing down on them. Too late they realize that there is an Indian hanging off the side of the horse and, using the horse for cover, shoots most of the men dead. The rest ride off, fearing for their lives.

The Indian, Scalphunter, examines Ed and states that he will live. Scalphunter then goes to the fallen men and scalps them all. Miss Masefield is appalled, but thankful for her life. Sclalphunter asks why she was attacked and she explains about the newspapers and her stand against slavery. Scalphunter mocks her for her writings but takes her into town to the doctor and then leaves.

She takes Ed to the doc (same one from last issue) and explains about the Indian. The doc chuckles and explains that is Brian Savage, the son of Matt Savage. 23 years ago (1839) Kiowas attacked the Savage ranch and carted off the young boy. Matt survived the raid and built a ranching empire, but about two months ago some troopers from Fort Caroline fought some Kiowas and brought back one, a white man, Brian Savage.

But Matt had died of TB but Brian refused to believe that he was born white and turned down the land that was left to him.

Back in town we find a Mr. Stockwell, who is very very angry. It was he that had hired those men to put Miss Masefield out of business and he has bigger and better plans to deal with her.

Later that night, in Southfield, Missouri, Miss Masefield and Ed are getting the next day's edition ready for the presses. There is a knock on the door and, thinking it is Brian Savage, Masefield opens the door. Sadly, it's Stockwell's men and they deliver a shotgun blast to Ed, killing him. They then take axes to the presses, pistol whip Masefield, and then torch the place.

They ride off and Miss Masefield comes to just as Scalphunter crashes through a window, scoops her up and carries her to safety. Scalphunter starts to leave, saying that he will find the men responsible and destroy them by Masefield asks to go along and then suddenly collapses. Scalphunter picks her up and takes her to the doctor.

The doc opens the door and starts to slam the door, stating that he doesn't treat Indians but Ke-Woh-No-Tay literally kicks the door off the hinges and tells the doctor to treat her or what is left of the doc's scalp will be used to braid a whip for his horse.

Several hours later Scalphunter locates Mr. Stockwell's place and finds the men who burnt the newspaper office. He is lurking outside but is discovered and brought inside. One of the men shouts that it's the Indian that attacked them. Stockwell starts hollering because his men had told him they had been attacked by a dozen Indians. Brian uses the distraction to knee on guy in the gut, but is suddenly brought down by being pistol-whipped.

Rather than killing the Indian outright, Stockwell decides to make an example of him and they haul Scalphunter to a grain mill and they tie him to a waterwheel to drown him. Stockwell's men leave and Brian uses a piece of glass that he has hidden in his hand. He obtained the glass when he kneed the one guy in the gut (causing him to drop a glass lantern). He manages to saw through his ropes and escape.

Shortly thereafter a flaming arrow bursts through Stockwell's window. Stockwell grabs a rifle and heads for the door, followed by several men. They see Brian standing in the darkness holding a bow and arrow. Before they can even blink, Savage grabs a rifle from behind him and kills them all. One last thug, the leader, sneaks out of the house and draws a bead on Savage as he leaves but is suddenly shot in the side of the head.

We discover that Masefield shot him with her rifle. Savage is not thankful. He says that a warrior must fight his own battles or stand shamed in the eyes of The Great Spirit and that a Kiowa squaw would know not to interfere. Masefield is incensed and demands to know why Brian showed up at the newspaper office, was it to learn to read (as she had offered earlier)?

Scalphunter scoffs and says that watching the wriggling maggots is a pastime for women and then he mounts up and rides off into the night.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Scalphunter - 9
Running Total - 14
Compared to Jonah Hex - 14 vs 12
Scalps taken - 4
Running Total - 4
Injuries - Pistol whipped and almost drowned
Timeline - One day and one night in 1862

This was a pretty good issue and fairly gruesome. Scalphunter starts living up to his name and we do see a guy shot in the head. I find it interesting that Brian Savage is hanging around Missouri and hating all over the white man's ways rather than heading out west. We get another heaping helping of the "noble Savage" (hee hee, see what I did there?) and how he refuses to acknowledge any hint of a desire that he might have to want to learn of the white man's ways. Also, I'm not sure how 'hip' it was in 1862 to use the term 'chauvinist'.

I enjoyed Evans artwork. I'm normally a fan of cleaner work, but Evans stuff here is gritty and has a loose flowing quality to it. I would like to see this reprinted on quality paper with better or no coloring.

It was also around this time that the TV show "The Quest" aired in 76. Coincidence? I think not. YouTube disabled embedding for this video, but here ya go, you can watch the whole pilot.

Next Issue: A map to a lost mine and the power of Voodoo!


SallyP said...

Well, I can't help but feel sorry for poor Ed...who ends up getting shot a LOT!

I'll bet that Jonah wouldn't have minded too much if a lady shot someone for him.

Susan said...

Nice to see you continuing on with chronicling Scalphunter's tales. I've been looking at that "current body count" tally in the corner for years now and thinking,"Damn, Brian needs to catch up!"

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

Thats why I thought I would do a side by side comparison on the body count.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

You really know how to hurt a procrastinator

Susan said...

I feel your pain. There's many a reason why WWQ is quarterly... :P

Abe Lucas said...

I've got this issue, though I don't have #41-42.

Anyway, I do notice that Savage is this early story and a heckuva lot more wordy than he'd be in future issues. This one also has the Fleisher brutality and the ever-present and reassuring "Ghaaa!" death cry I grew up emulating at recess.

From the two competing bodybuilder ads in this book, it's a miracle that I didn't evolve from scrawny wimp to muscled stud at age six. My God did they bombard America's organized-sports-despising youth wit that isometric stuff!