Ironically, the Rawhide Kid was created in 1955 as a response to the Comics Code Authority, which discouraged crime and horror titles for more wholesome genres like the Western. With not much of a back story and plenty of competition, the Kid slinked off into the sunset 16 issues later. Then the granddaddies of the modern comic, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, revived the Kid in 1960, making him an orphan, shy around the ladies, who had been raised by his Texas Ranger uncle. Slightly height-challenged and well known for his mane of red hair, the Rawhide Kid survived as his own title until 1979, but has occasionally popped up in random Marvel comics here and there. With the 2003 reissue he's not just shy around girls, he's come back as gay as a four-day weekend, thanks to Ron Zimmerman, who's made a name for himself writing not only for Spider-Man but also for Howard Stern and the wickedly funny, failed satire Action.
But is Zimmerman going too hard for the easy laughs by making the Rawhide Kid such a big swish? "What if he is?" says Joe Palmer, creator of the comic-fan Web site Gay League of America. "There are femmy gay and straight men in life. Why not in comics? Based on the two issues I've read, he's kind of femmy, but don't forget -- he's the fastest gun in the West!"
RAWHIDE KID | By RON ZIMMERMAN | MARVEL COMICS Five-issue series, 32 pages each | $3