Kid Colt, Steel, and posse. Artist: Jack Keller.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1948
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Kid Colt, Outlaw, wasn't the first western title published by Marvel Comics — but only one, Two-Gun Kid, preceded it (and …

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… by only five months). Nor was it the last — but of Marvel's old-time western series, only Rawhide Kid continued after it was gone (and by an even slimmer margin). Between the first and the last of Kid Colt, 31 years passed, making the title character the longest-running western star in the history of American comic books. Even counting newspaper comics, only Little Joe had a greater tenure.

Kid Colt (with his horse, Steel) debuted in his own comic, with a cover date of August, 1948. Originally, his subtitle (on the cover, but not the indicia) was "Hero of the West". It was changed "Outlaw" on the cover of the third issue, and in the indicia of the fifth. His origin story (first told in #11, September, 1950) was similar to Two-Gun's — Blaine Colt was wrongly accused of murder, and chose to run rather than try to buck an overwhelming presumption of guilt. He spent the rest of his life trying to outrun his reputation, which remained unchanged despite the fact that he used his amazing skill with a six-gun only in the cause of justice.

Marvel apparently thought that was a pretty good back-story. They published dozens of western titles — in fact, they put out more westerns than any other American publisher — and used that origin story over and over.

Kid Colt was an immediate hit, and the publisher exploited him to the hilt. Within a couple of months, they had a western anthology title on the stands, All Western Winners, with Kid Colt a prominent feature. He maintained his own title throughout the 1950s, as well as appearing in the back pages of other characters' comics and on the covers of anthology titles like Two-Gun Western and Gunsmoke Western.

By the '60s, westerns had fallen out of favor, but Kid Colt remained on the schedule. Through most of that decade, in fact, his was one of only three titles Marvel published in that genre, the other two being Rawhide Kid and a re-tooled version of Two-Gun Kid. The artist most closely associated with him during this period was Jack Keller, whose other major credits include scores of hot rod comics published by Charlton. His comic was dropped in 1968, but came back a year later, full of reprints.

During the hiatus, Kid Colt appeared in a double-size anthology, Mighty Marvel Western, along with Rawhide and Two-Gun. This title ran from 1968-76. In the middle '70s, when Marvel experimented with extra-large editions of its most popular comics, Kid Colt was the only western so favored — Giant-Size Kid Colt ran three issues in 1975.

Eventually, tho, even the most successful western comic of all succumbed to declining interest in the genre. The last issue of Kid Colt, Outlaw was #229 (April, 1979).

Complete oblivion eludes most Marvel characters, but for the next couple of decades, Kid Colt came pretty close to it. During the 1980s, through time travel, he guest-starred with The Avengers, but then, who didn't? An older Kid Colt was part of Blaze of Glory, a mini-series published in 2000, where they killed him off. Other than that, nothing.

But even that doesn't finish off a Marvel character for good. There's a guy who calls himself Kid Colt in a new superhero group that named itself after the old Young Allies series, which Marvel published in the 1940s. But while this one makes himself look a lot like the original Kid Colt (because he's a western buff), he's actually a mutant, infused with DNA from a horse-like alien.

We shall see if this one has the real Kid Colt's staying power.


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Text ©2002-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.