Book of the Day - 2/29/04

Western Team-Up #1 Nov 1973

- Overstreet 2006 (9.2) NM- Price: $40 -

Every time I see this comic, the "What The Hell Were They Thinking?" light goes off.  Trying to spawn off the successful Marvel Team-Up title which paired Spider-Man with a different Marvel hero each month, Western Team-Up was released in late 1973 as a test to see if the same could be achieved in the western genre.  Obviously the test didn't go so well as this was the first and final issue despite the indicia saying the title was bimonthly.  This issue paired Rawhide Kid (star of his own title) with the unknown Dakota Kid.  The story, written and penciled by Larry Lieber, a veteran of Marvel westerns, was pretty much a set-up and origin story of the Dakota character.  Seems DK came from a wealthy family but is seen as pretty irresponsible by the patriarch, the Colonel.  DK kills a guy in self-defense during an argument and, in classic (and clichéd) western fashion, he's wanted and on the run from the law.  Along the way, a rustler is brought into the mix as the heavy and both Kids team-up to take him down.  Standard western fare.  The issue closes with a six-page Gunsmoke Kid reprint from 1955.

I can't believe that Marvel ever seriously thought that this title would go past a couple of issues.  Westerns in the 1970s didn't sell particularly well and all existing Marvel western titles went solely to reprints in early 1974.  Also, there are only so many Marvel western characters to draw from.  It seems after five to 10 issues they would have run out of characters to team up.  It's possible that Marvel attempted to capitalize off the "Team-Up" title popularized by Marvel Team-Up and decided shortly after this issue hit the racks that releasing new western stories wasn't profitable.  Regardless, this title remains an oddity....