Another look at one of the features that was spiked and written off by DC Comics in the midst of the line contraction and round of layoffs that came to be known as the DC Implosion.

THE DESERTER was a new western series created by writer Gerry Conway. It had originally been commissioned to run in SHOWCASE #107-109, but at some point those plans changed, and it was decided to put it out as a self-titled series instead. Neither of these two eventualities came to pass, however, and the story never saw print.

THE DESERTER was about Aaron Hope who, as the title of the series indicates, deserted from the Union army during the Civil War, and who now refuses to wear or use a gun. Hope had killed a man in his first army conflict, and the experience changed him. Now, he wandered the countryside, pursued by his old commanding officer, who was severely scarred in the battle that Hope fled from, and who wants to take Hope back to face a noose for his act of desertion.

So it was a series with a very post-Vietnam War sensibility to it, about a cowboy who wouldn’t use a gun and wouldn’t kill people, but who was skilled enough and prone to trouble enough to get into scrapes nonetheless. The artwork was delivered by Dick Ayers and Romeo Tanghal, at least on the one story that was produced, and Joe Kubert provided the cover.

Sadly, 1978 was a terrible time to try to launch a new western character, for all that DC was still maintaining a couple of western titles, most notably JONAH HEX. But the genre as a whole was moving away from the center of popular culture, being in some ways replaced by its outer space equivalent as represented by STAR WARS.

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