I recently finished reading the first ten issues of the Lone Ranger comic book series from Dynamite Entertainment. This completes the first two story arcs of the series, with issues 1-6 covering the origin and issues 7-10 containing the second story. Here are my positive observations:
1) The art is outstanding! Realistic. The Old West flavor has successfully been captured.
2) The story and characters are believable. The character development is beyond anything we've seen in Lone Ranger stories of the past. I especially like what they've done with Tonto who is no longer a submissive, broken-English speaking sidekick. Tonto is a tough customer and not to be messed with. He is definitely someone you want on your side. When he is on your side, there is no more faithful friend. He has a past which is being divulged slowly over time. I'm also intrigued by the romantic tension that seems to exist between the Ranger and his brother's widow.
3) I think a mark of good storytelling is when a seemingly insignificant theme is planted earlier in a story. And then later in the story that theme is revisited, perhaps developed, and shown to be of greater significance. The theme may first appear as something that a character says in passing, but then later resurfaces. There must be a technical literary term for this, but I am unaware of what that term would be.
An example in this tale would be when Tonto makes an extra grave so that everyone will think John Reid is dead. Reid tells Tonto that a cross is not needed on this grave (Perhaps Reid is angry at God for the ranger massacre. Who knows?) But the symbol of the cross turns out to play a vital role in the Ranger's future (though not in an overtly religious way).
This literary device (whatever it is called) is used frequently in the series, so you have to pay attention. In fact, when I get a new issue I always go back and skim the previous ones to make sure I didn't miss anything or forget something. If I had the discipline, I would wait for the trade paperback reprints and read an entire story arc in one sitting. But I can't wait that long to see what happens.
Some less positive observations:
1) I sometimes feel that the art carries a single issue and we don't get the amount of dialog or plot advancement that I would prefer. Just my opinion.
2) A notable difference from any previous Lone Ranger incarnations is some graphic violence. This has disappointed some traditional fans of the character. At times it's like The Lone Ranger meets Lonesome Dove. Well, maybe not that extreme, but there is some blood, grit, and brutality. There is also some occasional profanity. Most of it is relatively mild, with some occasional stronger language from the bad guys. While I like having a more adult Lone Ranger, I'd prefer these two items be omitted in keeping with the traditional history of the character as a children's role model.
But there are still some avenues in which I can share my love for the Lone Ranger with my ten-year-old son. He is a fan of the reruns on DVD and he also reads my old Gold Key comics. I did allow him to get a Lone Ranger # 0 on Free Comic Book Day which was pretty kid friendly.
In addition to Dynamite's current series, I'd love to see an all ages Lone Ranger comic so that more children can return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear and discover the character we know and love. "All Ages" doesn't have to mean "just for kids" as I believe Marvel has proven with some of their All Ages titles. If I were to dream big, I'd love to see the popularity of this new comic lead to reprints of the old Dell and Gold Key stories, but I am dreaming.
All that being said, I eagerly await the next issue of the Lone Ranger--Hi Yo Silver! Away!