Friday, July 3, 2009

Tomahawk #124

Tomahawk #124 (On Sale: July 3, 1969) has another beautiful cover by Neal Adams. It is hard to believe this book was not selling well.

We begin with "The Valley of No Return" by Robert Kanigher, Frank Thorne and Joe Kubert. As Tomahawk and his Rangers march through the thick snow back into Echo Valley, they are faced with three lines of warriors under the guidance of Buffalo Horn, waiting for the Rangers to get into range of their riffles and bows. Behind Tomahawk stands the wagons of the Smith family, steadfastly refusing to go back into the valley. As Tomahawk and his men move forward they are attacked from all sides and Tomahawk thinks back to the first time he entered Echo Valley.

It was warmer days and Tomahawk and his men found the beautiful valley and thought it would be the perfect spot for the Smith family to settle. But Buffalo Horn and his warriors had other ideas and attacked the Rangers. The fight was heavy and brutal, but in the end only Buffalo Horn remained, awaiting Tomahawk's knife. But Hawk surprised him by showing mercy and letting him go, Buffalo Horn remarking that it was a weakness he would not have shown if the roles were reversed.

Tomahawk and his men get to the business of felling trees and getting the place ready for a settlement. Frenchie comment that Big Anvil smells like a bear and that pretty ladies are coming, but Anvil replies that he took a bath last spring and besides, "No gal ever looked at me!" However, when the Smith wagons arrive, Big Anvil meets Liza Smith and his life is changed forever. When the house and barn are completed a party is in order and Liza says she will save her first dance for Big Anvil. Smitten with each other it is only a matter of time before they profess their mutual love and Big Anvil tells Tomahawk that he plans on coming back to the valley and marrying Liza. The Rangers stayed till fall and then headed back to the fort, Big Anvil promising to return to be with Liza.

They find the fort under attack and it only survives due to the extra fire-power of the Rangers. Tomahawk tells Big Anvil that maybe he should slip back to Liza, but the big man says he will stay, that as long as "the Injuns are attackin' this fort -- Liza an' her kin must be safe!" One night while on patrol the Rangers see the warriors sneaking up on the fort with torches and in silence they attack them, fighting them till morning when the "Indians fade away like shadows."

The Rangers head back to Echo Valley only to find the cabin on fire and the Smiths leaving, saying they don't want to stay in the place where Liza was murdered. A shaken Big Anvil charges into the valley with the rest of the Rangers facing off the warriors gunfire. All of a sudden it becomes quiet as the gunfire stops and the whistle of arrows begins. Tomahawk thinks he understands why and has his men fire their guns off in rapid succession, firing everything they have. The gunfire starts an avalanche which buries Buffalo Horn and his men. In the end only Buffalo Horn emerges from the mountain of snow, saying he has had enough of fighting a white man who fights like an Indian.

The Smiths decide to stay on in the valley and as the Rangers leave a weeping Big Anvil kneels down in front of Liza's grave and places a flower. I can't let this one go without mentioning the wonderful art. Frank Thorne and Joe Kubert made a great team and the styles of both men survive the team-up. It's too bad that Kubert could not ink Thorne more as the results were a great treat.

The back-up story is "The Man Who Posed as Tomahawk" a reprint from Tomahawk #31 drawn by Bruno Premiani and Ray Burnley.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.


Euclid Records said...

Not all comic books were distributed evenly back in those days - Tomahawk was one I rarely got the chance to pick up because it just didn't turn up in the comic book machines or the drugstores where I bought comics. It would be nice to know whether I would have appreciated these books then as much as I think I'd like them now (still haven't actually read any of the later issues).

-Keller said...

Well, I would say that when Kanigher was writing the book it was a lot like Sgt. Rock. You had the leader (Tomahawk/Rock) and his band of men (Rangers/Easy Co.) and about half of the adventures featured the leader (Tomahawk/Rock) and the rest picked one member of the band of men (Rangers/Easy), who had an adventure, which though important to the character, in the end would leave them exactly where they started, so that nothing actually ever changed.

I would not be surprised if the same plots did not show up in both books. Look at this one for example: A member of the band of men falls in love and decides to leave the band of men, but in the end his love is killed and he stays on fulfilling his position in the band of men. I'm sure this same plot was used in Rock with a member of Easy.

If you liked these sort of stories in Rock, I would think you would like them in Tomahawk as well.