Review by Ian Keogh
It might be perceived that social conventions have moved on considerably from the Lone Ranger’s time in the spotlight during the 1930s to the 1950s, and that he no longer retains a validity. Although one of the most marketable franchises in its day, the more violent and revisionist approach taken toward Westerns since the 1960s would seem to have put paid to the clean-cut American boy who would not kill. Furthermore there’s the troublesome shadow of his constant Native American companion Tonto.
Full credit then to Brett Matthews, who successfully updates the idea while remaining true to the original premise and fully integrating all aspects of it. After all, Batman has a notable aversion to guns and killing, and it’s not harmed his popularity. Some things can be constant, and over six chapters Matthews ensures that they are.
Matthews starts establishing our protagonist via his youth, a decent upbringing as the son of a Texas Ranger, and a boy prone to taking his time working something out, and not happy until he’s done it. We then jump forward a few years to discover why he’s the Lone Ranger and his first meeting with Tonto. This is well played, as that stage the Lone Ranger is a very different man, one beset by rage and vengeance. Tonto’s motivations are a little muddier, although he hints at his own isolation.
Sergio Cariello is a very impressive artist, but then he’s blessed with a writer not precious about letting the art tell the story when it can. In the opening chapter he indicates the past by digital scratching, staining and scoring, giving the brown coloured pages the look of having been passed down through the centuries from the original old west. It’s extremely effective, but elsewhere he’s more expansive, and provides some fine symbolic illustrations.
We don’t see the real Lone Ranger in this book until the thrilling finale, but Matthews and Cariello establish everything that makes him that man, including an endless supply of metal for his trademark silver bullets.
So we return to a variation on the original question. Is there any market for a Western comic, never mind one starring an eighty year old icon? Anyone who believes there should be owes it to themselves to sample Now and Forever. The story continues in Lines Not Crossed, and both are available within volume one of the Lone Ranger Omnibus.