By Doug Wildey (Comico: The Comic Company)
There have been a lot of very bad Western comics over the years, most of them American, and most of those banged out as commercial fodder to feed a fashion during periods when other media such as television enjoyed a re-emergence of the genre. Rio is most definitely not one of those.
Crafted over many long years, virtually isolated from the mainstream comics world, the late Doug Wildey – famed animator and comic strip artist (his Outlaw Kid strips for Marvel were a rare high-point during the 1950’s Western boom following the rise of TV ownership in the USA) – produced an iconic and elegiac character in Rio. An old gunfighter and badman in the dog days of the Wild West, the rangy loner wandered the country just ahead of creeping civilisation, trying to live the rest of his life as best he could.
This initial volume, collecting material first presented in Eclipse Monthly, finds the weary rover on a tricky and dangerous mission. Offered a full pardon by President Ulysses S. Grant in return for stopping the decimation of the Buffalo herds by “Sporting Specials”, Rio vainly attempts to reason with the Railway Boss. These train excursions, wherein customers could slaughter the animals from the comfort of their seats, nearly wiped out the Buffalo, and consequently almost starved the Indians who lived off them to their own extinction.
Deemed a threat to profits and framed for murder, Rio must hunt down an army of gunmen before he can know any real peace…
Wildey was a master storyteller and a Western Historian of some note. His art has graced many galleries and museums, but his greatest achievements can be seen in this book and its two sequels, where his artistry brings that lost and fabled world briefly back to vibrant life, in spirit as well as look. This is the best work of a master and no comic fans should deprive themselves of the joy of seeing it.
© 1983, 1984, 1987 Doug Wildey. All Rights Reserved.