The Last Two-Gun Kid Story

The Two-Gun Kid was one of the longest-running characters in the Marvel line. He was created in 1948 in TWO-GUN KID #1 and over the next three decades he’d appear in not only his own magazine but also in stories featured in other western anthologies. This original Two-Gun Kid wasn’t a masked cowboy, but rather a singing one. Clay Harder was known as the Two-Gun Kid thanks to his proficiency with firearms. Syd Shores illustrated the first Two-Gun Kid story. His series was published from 1948-1949 and then returned in 1953, running 59 issues. With #60, after a short period of time, the series was totally overhauled by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The new Two-Gun Kid was a masked vigilante, secretly lawyer Matt Hawk who got justice outside the law as much as under it. This new version adopted the Two-Gun Kid name based on the Clay Harder version, whom he had read about. (in later years, after the title had become a reprint series, several Clay Harder stories were reprinted as adventures of Matt Hawk with a mask drawn on the character.)

TWO-GUN KID was one of three western titles that surveyed the Silver Age of Comics, the other two being RAWHIDE KID and KID COLT, OUTLAW. But the TWO-GUN KID was the closest to a super hero series, and he eventually was used more and more within what was considered the mainstream Marvel Universe. The Kid plied his trade across the old west until issue #92 in 1968, when his book was discontinued. two years later, when Marvel was looking to expand and to claim a greater portion of the newsstand, the series returned, this time as an all-reprint title, and lasted until issue #136. But among that stretch, there was one final new Two-Gun Kid story printed, and it represents that last Two-Gun Kid story of the era.

It was this story, which turned up in TWO-GUN KID #103 in 1972. The story had been an inventory assignment started in 1967 that had been left uncompleted after the book was cancelled, and then resurrected and finished so as to burn off the inventory and the expense of sunk costs. Ogden Whitney was the writer and artist of record, the only hand credited on this tale. But much of it was reworked and rescripted by another hand.

That hand belonged to Steve Englehart, a newcomer to Marvel who was just beginning to establish himself, doing a little bit of everything–writing, penciling, production work–before he eventually emerged as one of the most acclaimed writers of the era. He had apparently been tasked by editor Roy Thomas with completing this story and making it publishable–which he proceeded to do.

Apart from that factoid, it’s an undistinguished tale, and one that looks as much like a reprint as anything else in the issue. I doubt than many readers in 1972 realized that it was new and never before printed. But it represented the Two-Gun Kid’s final ride.

7 thoughts on “The Last Two-Gun Kid Story

  1. Always amazed me how two artists with such contradictory styles as Gil Kane & John Severin could mesh so well. (The cover.)

    That’s about the only thing remotely notable about this story… except that were it done today it’d be six issues long…

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  2. I enjoyed when Englehart brought Two Gun into the present and then when Slott did the same when he undid others sending Hawk back. The time lost, fish out of water set up worked better for me with him than Captain America since with Cap it’s just one of many things to hang a story on.

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  3. Tom, thanks for the information on this issue, as I have been starting to collect some of the Marvel Westerns and ones that are unique in its presentation. After reading your article, I immediately hit up eBay and found a copy of #103 and have it in my collection right now. Also, the only other “New Story” that I know of is Kid Colt #201 which has all new material that was originally supposed to be included in the never published Giant Size Kid Colt 4. I also made it a point to acquire that particular issue for my collection. Really enjoying your historical perspectives, and from a guy that has been reading funny books for over 40 years, thank you for all you and your fellow storytellers for making life a little more enjoyable!

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  4. I read a few Marvel western’s when I was a wee lad in the late ’60s & early ’70s, although I’ve long since lost them, maybe thrown out by my dad during one of our family moves circa 1972. Certainly don’t remember reading this story. What most strikes me is that in an era when most comicbook heroes, super or otherwise, to my recall went out of their way to avoid purposely causing a villain’s death — although occasionally they did so inadvertently while the villain was trying to kill them, as with Captain America and the first Baron Zemo and Iron Man and the evil Black Knight — in this story, Two-Gun winds up killing three bad guys, albeit in justifiable self-defense. I have no idea if such body counts were common in Marvel’s westerns or if this was out of the norm. Just perusing the pages in this post, I wondered what would happen with the baddies who figured out Two-Gun’s alter ego and figured they wouldn’t survive the end of the story but was still surprised that Two-Gun took care of the matter with his two guns at once, disposing of the garbage permanently. And apparently without a fuss from the Comics Code Authority.

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