Cheyenne Kid #69 (Charlton Comics, November, 1968).

Short comics stories with supposedly surprising twist endings … You have to read a lot of them to find one with a genuine surprise at the tail. I would not want to claim that ‘Kiowa’s Revenge’, the first story in Charlton Comics’ Cheyenne Kid #69, is a gem, but I have to say I didn’t see the ending coming. The story, written by Joe Gill and illustrated by Pat Boyette, starts with the cavalry scout Cheyenne Kid catching Bad Otter, a warrior from the Kiowa tribe, in the act of attempting to steal a horse belonging to cavalry officer Colonel Larnin. When the Kid takes Bad Otter back to the fort, Colonel Larnin gives orders for the Kiowa warrior to be executed. The Kid warns the colonel that this will contravene the treaty the authorities have signed with the Kiowa. He also points out that Kiowa boys are taught to steal horses as part of their upbringing. Unmollified, Larnin decides to hold a trial first and then sentence Bad Otter to be shot by a firing squad.

To ease his conscience, the Kid releases Bad Otter during the night and tells him to flee. The next day Larnin leads a search patrol after the escaped Kiowa, commanding the Cheyenne Kid to use his tracking skills. Bad Otter captures the Kid when he is searching in a plain of waist-high buffalo grass by himself. After taking the Kid back to his tribe’s settlement, Bad Otter demands the death penalty for his captive. The Kiowa chief protests but Bad Otter insists that he has a right to demand this punishment. During the night, as his fellow tribesmen perform a terrifying pre-execution dance, Bad Otter releases the Kid and tells him to flee. As the Kid crawls away through tall grass, the drumming and screeching at the settlement suddenly stops. The Kid realises he’s been tricked. The whole thing was a joke – Bad Otter’s way of getting revenge for being made to crawl away from the cavalry’s fort.


Surprising ending: the hero is the fall guy.

The issue’s second Cheyenne Kid’s story has a gaping hole in its plot, so we’ll pass over it. However, I have to mention the comic’s back-up feature, ‘Wander, The Man from Sirius 5’, written by Sergius O’Shaughnessy (alias Denny O’Neil), with pencils by Jim Aparo, and inks by Sal Gentile. There’s not much to say about the formulaic story. Wander takes up arms against a corrupt businessman who seeks to terrorize the inhabitants of a small town in the American west so that he can reap maximum profits from a planned railroad that will … etc, etc. The thing that’s interesting is that, although the setting and other characters belong to standard Western comics, the protagonist Wander is an alien (from Sirius 5). Moreover, he learnt English from ‘the same grammar book that Wm. Shakespeare used’, so he spouts lines like ‘Woud’st tell me why the black-clad blackguard meant harm?’ (That makes reasonable sense but does not explain why Stan Lee’s Thor used the same method.) The story is played for laughs and is a lot of fun and the ‘NEXT ISSUE’ caption says that Wander meets ‘an emissary from his home planet’ in #70, so I guess I’ll have to trawl the comic markets for that one now …


Jim Aparo artwork as sharp as ever. (Is it me or does Wander resemble Howard Chaykin’s Luther Ironheart?)



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