Walt and Wayne in action.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1951
Creators: Robert Kanigher (writer) and Carmine Infantino (artist)
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Like the superheroes they largely replaced, comic book western heroes, such as Charlton's Gunmaster and …

continued below

… ME's Ghost Rider, often had secret identities. DC Comics' Trigger Twins offered a variation on the secret identity schtick that might have been absolutely unique. Between them, Walt and Wayne Trigger made up a single hero.

The series began with Walt Trigger being elected sheriff of Rocky City. But the townsfolk would probably have done better to choose Walt's identical twin, Wayne, who, unknown to them, was the more capable gunslinger. Not that Walt was a slouch in that department, but once in a while (i.e., in each issue of All Star Western), he'd get in over his head. Fortunately, Wayne was always ready to help. He'd use a secret tunnel underneath his general store, finding excuses to sneak out as easily as Clark Kent found excuses to disappear from The Daily Planet's newsroom. Since Wayne wore a twin to Walt's outfit and rode a twin to Walt's horse, nobody, not even Linda, who worked for him at the store, ever suspected Wayne was covering for his brother. The purpose of the subterfuge was never made exactly clear, but it went on for years.

This scenario was set up by writer Robert Kanigher, who was just starting to show his penchant for quirky new takes on comic book staples, a penchant he was later to display in such series as Metal Men and The War that Time Forgot. The characters' visual realization was by Carmine Infantino, whose sleek, streamlined representations were also seen with such diverse contemporaries as Captain Comet and The Phantom Stranger. Together, Kanigher and Infantino were creating Knights of the Galaxy about the same time as The Trigger Twins. Kanigher stayed with the Triggers only a little over a year, succeeded by Dave Wood (Dial H for Hero), Gardner Fox (Adam Strange) and others. Infantino remained for most of its run, occasionally relieved by Gil Kane (Space Cabby) or Mike Sekowsky (Captain Flash).

The two Triggers were introduced in All Star Western #58 (May, 1951), the first issue under that title. Previously, the comic book had been called All Star Comics, and its main feature was The Justice Society of America. But the majority of JSA members had lost their own series by then, and the group seemed more and more an anachronism until it was finally replaced by a new genre. At first, the twins alternated covers with another new character, Strong Bow, but they edged out the Native American warrior after the first year. They remained the sole cover feature until 1956, when they themselves began being edged out by Johnny Thunder. Their last cover appearance was in 1958.

By the early 1960s, westerns had run their course in comic books, and the superheroes were coming back. In All Star Western #117 (March, 1961), The Trigger Twins were replaced by Super-Chief, an attempt to hybridize the two genres. Two issues later, the title folded, and DC didn't publish any more westerns for years.

In 1973, DC gave the twins their own title, reprinting two of their adventures plus one of Pow Wow Smith, another of the company's 1950s western stars. Only one issue was published. They made a brief appearance in DC's first big crossover series, Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-86). Other than that, the company hasn't made much use of them since the demise of All Star Western.

But they haven't been forgotten. There are now a couple of Batman villains, Tom and Tad Trigger, who call themselves The Trigger Twins and claim descent from Walt and Wayne. In the DC Universe, no concept is ever quite left behind.


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Text ©2004-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.