Sep 11, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 564: The Rawhide Kid #50, February 1966 (Western Week, Day 7)

http://www.comics.org/issue/19843/

Finishing off Western Week with...well, a weak comic, I guess. Coming, as it does, in the early throes of Marvel's superhero renaissance, this comic falls into a strange trap. It revolves around the deception of an uncanny master of disguise named "The Masquerader," whose ability to perfectly mimic (and resemble) other people verges on the superhuman. Rather than allow Westerns to tell stories that are "Western stories," this comic is attempting to tell a superhero story in a Western genre comic. The Masquerader is obviously sporting some high-level superpowers if he can stand next to the person he's impersonating, using only materials available in the late 19th century, and be completely indistinguishable from the original. That's some Chameleon-level shit going on there.

So it's not surprise that the comic was written by Stan Lee, whose Chameleon had very likely appeared in the pages of Spider-Man not too long before. Having said that the comic was weak, I do have to acknowledge the fact that the writer and artist were attempting to push at the boundaries of the genre and tell a story that was unique and interesting. But I think that certain genres encourage larger and smaller deployments of the suspension of disbelief. The Western, taking place as it does in an ostensibly real historical period, and in a real geographic area, requires a lower suspension of disbelief in order to consider the realness of the tale. These "real life" markers act in such a way that when we see something patently ridiculous (such as The Masquerader's infallible skills) in such a setting, it rings even more false than it might usually.

Suspension of disbelief and the boundaries of genre. Hmmmm.

Onward.

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