Friday, September 11, 2009

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Showcase #86

Showcase #86 (On Sale: September 11, 1969) has a Firehair cover by Joe Kubert.

Firehair in "River of Gold" is written and drawn by Joe Kubert. I can't tell you how much I am enjoying rereading these stories. In Firehair Kubert created the perfect tool for telling his tales of morality, human nature and the turbulent times on the late 1960s. An old prospector searching for gold stumbles into the land of the Crow and finds himself surrounded by warriors thirsty for revenge against the white men. Firehair comes across the confrontation and calls out the Crow for even contemplating "murdering defenseless of people."

Black Eagle, the son of the Crow Chief's issues a personal challenge to Firehair for interfering in their business. Years of having to fight for a place in his own tribe gives Firehair the advantage and he soon forces Black Eagle to concede. Firehair demands to be taken to Black Eagle's father, who as a great chief must be a just man.

The chief chastises his son for attempting to use his protection to right his loss in single combat to Firehair, but he also worries that the old prospector may not deserve the gift of life that Firehair has given him. He worries that the old man seeks the "yellow stones! The soft, worthless pebbles they value more than life or land" and that should he find any that their land would be "over-run by his kind!" Firehair explains to the old man that at tomorrow's sun dance ceremony he must fight Black Eagle again and that if he wins again that they will both be set free, but that the old man must not search for gold and must leave the land of the Crow.

The old man says he understands. but that night he attempts to sneak out of camp. However, he sees that he is being watched and returns to camp but not before spotting a trove of gold nuggets in the stream running through the village.

The next morning Firehair and Black Eagle once again square off in single combat and once again Firehair is victorious. The chief declares that they "will be as one -- in honor and trust!" and Black eagle and Firehair become blood brothers. The old man notes to himself that "they sure know how to settle their arguments!' but while the sun dance ceremony begins he sneaks off with his mule and a few sacks of gold from the stream.

Later when they discover he has gone, it is Firehair who must search for him as it is Firehair who has accepted responsibility for the old man. Firehair tracks him down and finds him just as a grizzly has also found him. Firehair intercedes and kills the bear. The old man however, pulls his gun on Firehair and says he will kill him rather than let Firehair take him back to the Crow.

Back at the village Black eagle wonders if Firehair will return when a moment later he and the old man are seen coming back. The old man turns over his gold saying that "I couldn't shoot someone who'd saved my life...twice! I guess...there's some things even more valuable than an whole river of gold!" The chief gives the old man his freedom and Firehair moves on in his search for a place he can belong.

"Saturday -- 1787" is written and drawn by Ric Estrada is a great little slice of frontier life and hardships of the early settlers. It does a terrific job of showing the hard choices the early settlers sometimes faced. A little gem from the late Ric Estrada.

Edited by Joe Kubert.

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