One formerly very popular genre of comics but less so now, are westerns. For some of us, however, western comics are incredibly interesting, and some of the best types of stories. When written well, they have the ability to take you back to another time and place in a way that many other comic books cannot -- and that's what makes them such a pleasure to read.
Recently we caught up with a writer of Dynamite Entertainment's latest venture into the western genre of comics, THE LONE RANGER. The six issue story arc whose first issue is scheduled to hit local comic shops on January 18th, 2012 will be written by Ande Parks and feature the interior art of Esteve Polls. The series will feature incredible cover art from both Alex Ross and Francisco Francavilla, and will tell the story of the the Lone Ranger and Tonto two months after they had initially embarked on their adventures. The Lone Ranger is, if anything, a hero; and writer Ande Parks plans to explore the heroic aspect of the character by making John Reid face settlers who have been both abused and victimized. The first issue will feature a stand alone story centered around the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and we spoke to writer Ande Parks about what exactly new readers can expect from the series.
Comic Vine: The Lone Ranger picks up after The Lone Ranger: Death of Zorro, what do new readers need to know before reading this series?
Ande Parks: Our new Lone Ranger book happens around the same time as the "Death of Zorro" series. As far as continuity, though, our book is more in line with the Lone Ranger series by Brett Matthews, Sergio Cariello and John Cassaday. That series ran for twenty-five issues, and really created the template for our Lone Ranger and Tonto.
At the end of the Matthews series, Lone Ranger and Tonto strike out on the trail, ready to do their thing in the Wild West. You could say that our first arc, "Hard Country", is about the Wild West striking back. The prairie in 1870 was a tough, unforgiving place- a place where the brave settlers trying to make a new life for themselves have to face death every day.
While our book follows the template of the Matthews series, we're trying to make it as accessible as possible. Our first issue is a stand-alone that fits into the general theme of our "Hard Country" arc. In that first story we re-visit Lone Ranger's origin story, so that new readers should be able to hop right on.== TEASER ==
CV: Is the story and legacy of Zorro truly over?
AP: As far as our Lone Ranger series is concerned, yes. We killed Zorro. Really, really killed him. That said, I see that "Death of Zorro" series as one possible future for the Zorro character that my man Matt Wagner writes so wonderfully for Dynamite. Our story was not intended as the definitive conclusion to Matt's story, by any means.
The point of our "Death of Zorro" series was that the legacy never dies, and that theme is very much present in our new Lone Ranger book. Our first issue shows Lone Ranger from the point of view of a family that really needs help. Lone Ranger's actions in that issue will shape those lives for generations to come. Yes, the west was a "Hard Country", but Lone Ranger is out there doing his best to make a difference. The actions of good men who are unafraid resonate forward into history. Those heroic actions shape the legacy, and the legacy never dies.
CV: What keeps the Lone Ranger motivated? What makes him ride out in the west instead of settling down?
AP: John Reid has a set of values that he got from his father, a Texas Ranger. Those values are deeply engrained. Combine that with his origin story (his father and brother murdered in an attack that left John himself gravely wounded before Tonto found and saved him) and you have a man who feels compelled to help… compelled to save others who are facing the same kind of loss he survived. We're starting off with that drive of Lone Ranger's very much intact, but we will eventually find ways to test it.
I think Tonto's motivations are harder to pin down. The Matthews series dropped a lot of hints about his background. We're going to dig into that more.
CV: The series begins with a six-part arc, what kind of dangers or enemies will the Lone Ranger and Tonto face?
AP: As I mentioned before, Lone Ranger and Tonto are running into an entire landscape that challenges what they have set out to do. There are bad men in the first couple of issues... killers, but we don't introduce our first real villain until issue three. That's the first part of a three-issue story that pits our heroes against a man who is corrupting something Lone Ranger holds very dear: the badge. At the end of our third issue, things look pretty hopeless. Two real cliffhangers. That's been really fun to write.
Moving ahead, Lone Ranger will confront some very powerful men. He finds that he's been manipulated, and he's none too happy about it.
CV: Where does he get all his ammunition? How much does he normally carry? Does he have to make trips into town on occasion to replenish?
AP: We are purposefully keeping Lone Ranger away from his silver mine (the source of his silver bullets) for a while. I guess he had a healthy supply when he started out. Lone Ranger is capable of living off the land. Tonto excels at it. For things like bullets, though, they can re-supply at a town. I've already had them visit the real town of Abilene, Kansas. Eventually, we'll get them back to their home turf, but I wanted to keep them out there on the trail at first. In our second arc, they head to big cities. Something that Lone Ranger kind of looks forward to, but that makes Tonto's skin crawl. Civilization is not Tonto's thing.