Zorro #3 – Reviews of Old Comics
In the 1990s, there was a trend of “bad girls.” These were female characters that were usually violent and almost always had costumes that showed more skin than they covered. Lady Death (and most of Chaos! Comics’ female characters), Razor, Shi, Glory, and Witchblade were just some of the characters that were the prime examples of this disturbing trend. There may not have been a publisher of super-hero comics in the 1990s that didn’t try to ride this trend. Topps Comics, short-lived as it was, even got into the act with Lady Rawhide, spinning off the character into her own title. There were different degrees of the bad girl trend and Lady Rawhide was definitely on the tamer end of the spectrum. However, right there on the cover of her first appearance, Topps looks tobe trying to get in on the trend.
Writers: Don McGregor
Penciler: Mike Mayhew
Inkers: Andy Mushynsky, Hilary Barta
Colorist: Laurie E. Smith
Letterer: Michael Delepine
Cover Art: Adam Hughes
Zorro is spying on Captain Monasterio. He is unaware that a new masked adventurer, Lady Rawhide is setting out to get revenge on him as well. Zorro is hanging outside of the window listening to the plans for the arrival from Spain of a Regency Administrator. The Captain’s Sergeant mentions that they should steer the administrator away from the Santiago ranchero after a shooting incident.
As Lady Rawhide nears the Captain’s home, she sees Zorro hanging near the window. She has an intense hatred for Zorro, and approaches him unnoticed as he hears the Captain plot to retain his independence in California by passing along some of the treasure he has confiscated as “taxes.” Lady Rawhide snares Zorro across the face with her whip, pulling him to the ground. She puts a gun to his head and tells him that the great Zorro could be killed that night by a woman, and everyone would wonder what happened.
Zorro asks why she hates him so. Lady Rawhide tells him that his recklessness gets innocent people hurt. Flirting with her gets her off of him and the two tussle, eventually leading to Zorro indelicately touching Lady Rawhide. They also cause enough of a commotion to get the attention of the Captain and a couple of his guards.
As Zorro retrieves his whip with his sword, he alerts the Captain to his presence. Together, he and Lady Rawhide take out the guards, The Captain shouts out that he will immediately reward the soldier that kills Zorro. The pair run away from the shooting of unpaid soldiers, eager for a reward.
Lady Rawhide remembers how as Anita Santiago, her brother was mistaken for Zorro, Soldiers out to capture Zorro blinded him. Anita is appalled by the gruesome suffering her brother goes through. She adopts the mask and identity of Lady Rawhide to gain revenge not just on Captain Monasterio, but Zorro as well.
Zorro and Lady Rawhide hide in the Captain’s bedchambers. She immediately strangles him with her whip, but soon their struggle becomes flirting between the both of them, It then progresses to a lustful kiss and embrace. The Captain enters and the pair flee out the window. Zorro promises that when they next meet he will learn why she wants him dead.
The story is one from a simpler time, and I just don’t mean the 1990s. Zorro firmly roots himself, no matter when he’s written, in the days when a swashbuckler’s exploits included flirting with gorgeous women, if not romancing them altogether. The story itself is almost a throwaway story, but to be honest it doesn’t compel me enough to read the next issue. The subplot of the Administrator could have gone somewhere. Zorro is written consistently with how most would envision him. The greatest sin is that there’s not enough here to make me come back for more Zorro.
Any artist on Zorro has to live up to the legacy of Alex Toth. Mike Mayhew, in some of his earliest work, does an admirable job, and handles the awkward fight scene well. At times, he pulls back too much. I actually like his work here a little more than his newer work. This feels very fluid, and easily lives up to the Zorro legacy. The difference in style between the two inkers is obvious, which makes for a comic that takes me out of the story for just long enough to distract me from the story.
That’s the worst offense that can come from a comic. If I get taken out of the story, recognizing a production aspect or a shift in style, it’s a failure in the first purpose of a comic, storytelling. Sadly, the point that this comic does the best at keeping the reader involved is the bedroom scene. This doesn’t let this comic age as well as other Zorro comics. In that way, this is very much a great example of how creators and publishers chased the trends of the 1990s. Zorro, as a character, has a classic feel to his stories, and this comic is good at capturing that feel. Lady Rawhide, as a character, seems slightly out of place and adds a “badgirl” vibe to a colonial California story.
Topps collected this comic in Zorro, Vol. 1: The Lady Wears Red (ISBN: 978-1582400617). They also reprinted it in comic format as Lady Rawhide Special Edition #1. Like the comic, you will have to seek them out as back issues. They should be affordable. It looks like the collection is uncolored. However, I only have one Amazon review to base that on.
As I said, if you’re looking for a copy, you shouldn’t have to pay too much. Finding it might be a problem. However, it might even be available in bargain bins.
Final Rating: 7.0 (out of 10)