Anthology books are always a mixed bag, especially when the subject is a superhero western mash up. But I have to say if you’re a fan of the masked lawman (as I am), The Lone Ranger Chronicles presents some outstanding stories. The book starts with an Introduction by Clayton Moore’s daughter Dawn (turns out Mr. Moore was just as cool a father as we all imagined him to be), continues with Ranger creator Fran Striker’s Lone Ranger Creed, and contains sixteen short stories of the Lone Ranger, Tonto, Silver, Scout and lots of silver bullets and two-fisted action. And sometimes those fists are full of Colt Peacemakers.
The best story in the book is The Blue Roan by Chuck Dixon. Dixon’s POV character is a young boy who follows a group of horse thieves to get back his prized blue roan. He soon gets in over his head and the Ranger and Tonto have to pull him out and protect him while fighting some very dangerous individuals. The Lone Ranger serves as a father figure in the story while the boy is lost, scared and in desperate danger. As usual, Dixon presents a tight, well-told story with great characters and a firm handle on exactly who the Lone Ranger is.
Kemosabe by Matthew Baugh puts a fresh spin on the origin of the relationship between the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and delves into Tonto saving the Ranger from the deadly ambush that killed his brother and four other Texas Rangers. An excellent account that illustrates the loyal friendship between the two heroes.
The Legend of Silver by Johnny D. Boggs is told from the Ranger’s horse Silver’s point of view. It sounds silly, but is actually a fun story of the famous stallion deciding the man is worthy of him and why.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto meet Doc Holliday in The Masque by Richard Dean Starr and E. R. Bower. The writers actually handle Holliday in a historically accurate yet entertaining manner. Of course the Ranger tries to convince Doc to slow down and live a healthier lifestyle. The results are not as effective as he hoped. I pictured Val Kilmer’s Doc from the movie Tombstone during every line of Holliday’s dialog in the story.
Howard Hopkins writes Denial, a decent read but the only story that seems out of place in the book. The antagonist is a cursing, wife-beating murderer to whom the Ranger shows mercy (of a kind). The grittiness sets it apart from most of the other stories.
There must have been an editorial fiat for these tales that Tonto has to be specifically pointed out as a Potawatomi Indian, a fact of which I was not aware. It is mentioned at least once (if not many, many more times) in each story, usually within the first two pages. It was good fun to read new stories of one of my favorite childhood heroes. Within these pages, the Lone Ranger is portrayed as an old-fashioned do-gooder who always does the right thing. I loved it.
Rating: **** starts out of 5