Trading Up: The Lone Ranger Vol. 4: A Wild West Adventure That Knocks Your Socks Off

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In time for the new Lone Ranger series comes this collection of the highly adventurous final issues of the previous series. Gathering The Lone Ranger #17-25 from long time creators Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello, this collection is a fitting place to start for those new to the masked man of old.

Beginning with a largely silent, Indiana Jones-like sequence involving the Ranger, Tonto and a stolen stage coach is a great hook, and the page turning style of the book just continues from there. We are soon introduced to two hard men from different sides of the same coin, with the cold killer Butch Cavindish, and the abrupt Federal agent Winston Marle.  Sheriff Don Loring is the man caught in the middle, with his loyalties to The Lone Ranger (AKA John Reid) and Tonto bringing great determination and resolve to the characters caught up in Cavendish’s maniacal machinations.

After the exciting opener, the Ranger and Tonto relax with the former’s sister-in-law and nephew (who grows up to be the father of The Green Hornet, complete with a few nods to such). The masked man is unable to relax for long though, as the sheriff follows them, warning them that the Ranger’s unique silver bullets from his mine have been used in the killing of several agents, and the fast paced story really begins, with links to the Ranger's past and the possibility of a very short future.

Both Ranger and Tonto’s relationships with their families are explored here, which grounds the heroes more in the real world and less in the realm of the ‘super’ variety. The two men also share little dialogue. There's no unecessary witty banter here; just the talk of two strong men who have been through a lot together and formed a bond as strong as their desire to see evil punished and good prevail.

Matthews does a splendid job of creating memorable characters and although we’ve all seen our share of Wild West tough guys, the writer never ventures into caricature, although showing how cruel Cavendish is almost ventures into over the top territory. The mystery that unites the sheriff and the two crime fighters is unraveled at a steady pace and makes for an intriguing read as Matthews draws all the players together. Both Marle and Cavindish are proud men who don’t care about the lives of others to get their jobs done, while the sheriff is determined to not let his loyalty to justice and its noble servants be swayed.  All that, plus a surprising romance, makes for a great mix of tense drama, suspense and some truly impressive (and often bloody) action scenes.

Carello’s slightly sketchy stylings are a great fit for this series, and bring a rough Joe Kubert vibe to the time period. As silent pages for action and emotion are frequent, the script relies on his skill at pacing and page composition to drive the story, and he doesn’t disappoint, and the inclusion of John cassady's original covers just makes this book even more eye catching.

Being a setting I’m not that familiar with, I wasn’t expecting this Wild West adventure to knock my socks off as it did. Both Matthews and Cariello work splendidly together and prove that choosing to be heroic in a chaotic and brutal world isn’t easy , but it is wildly entertaining.

The Lone Ranger Volume 4: Resolve trade paperback is available from Dynamite Entertainment priced at $19.99.

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