Friday, February 11, 2011
The Ray of Horror!
Handsome movie actor Charles Starrett played the Durango Kid in 64 movies. At one time Starrett was amongst the top box office stars, but most of the Durango Kid movies are locked in the Columbia Pictures vaults, not much seen nowadays.
Starrett/Durango was popular enough to have his own comic book series from Magazine Enterprises which ran for 41 issues. Early issues were drawn by Joe Certa and John Belfi, later issues by Fred Guardineer. This story is from The Durango Kid #7, 1950, and seems like a plot from The Wild, Wild West, popular on TV a decade-and-a-half later. Mixing science fiction and westerns can be fun.
The scientist villain (called "the Boss") looks like Lex Luthor's great-grandfather. The story was probably written by ME regular Gardner Fox, and I like Fox, but like a lot of old comic book plots, there are points that cause one to scratch one's head: Why steal a steer when you can just buy one? Why, to draw the hero into the action, of course! There's not a lot of room in 8 pages for nuanced plots, just gotta get straight to the punch-ups and shootouts.