A Tribute to the of

Greetings, faithful readers and welcome to the latest installment of the Silver Age Sage. We’re taking a slight detour this time, back into the Old West and a pair of characters that haven’t been covered here in the past. I’d heard about them any number of times, but knew very little about the co-creation of writer Robert Kanigher and artist Carmine Infantino of the famed Trigger Twins.

As many of you already know, All Star Comics was abruptly replaced by All Star Western as the comic books of the era became increasingly under fire by the powers that be, whether it was Dr. Fredric Wertham or the U.S. Congress itself. Westerns and funny animals became the order of the day, but that being said, a lot of the same talent was producing them and, in many cases, the results were impressive.

So, let’s take a wander back to the end of 1958, beginning of 1959 (not long after they decided to give a revamped Flash a whirl, officially kicking off the Silver Age) and look at All Star Western #104, with a publication date of December 1958/January 1959 and an on-sale date of October 7, 1958. The talent producing this issue and specifically “The Surprise Sheriff of Rocky City!” includes writer Robert Kanigher, artist Carmine Infantino, letterer Gaspar Saladino and editor Julius Schwartz. On to the tale:

The splash shows twins Walt and Wayne Trigger underwater with a thought balloon revealing: “I’ve got to stay down here—until my brother gets the outlaws—or they’ll discover our secret!” The secret? That Walt is a lawman, but Wayne is the better shot and regularly impersonates his brother. They even ride identical looking horses to maintain the ruse.

So, on the Hawk River near Rocky City, Sheriff Walt Trigger lies in wait for the dreaded Flat Hat Gang. He’s determined to prove he’s worthy of the badge, but also resolves that if he goofs, he’s going to give his job to Wayne, who is far more adept.

Hiding in a tree, Walt soon spots the members of the gang riding below, but is surprised by a lasso that pins him from behind by another gang member. Not a great start, Walt. Desperately, he dives into Hawk River while Wayne happens to be nearby in a boat by a field of cattails. He quickly dons a duplicate of the buckskins his twin wears and then realizes the jig will be up if the outlaws notice he’s dry, so into the drink he goes.

The gang sees the overturned boat and figure the sheriff is beneath it, so they fire at it, but are soon feeling the grip of strong hands and are dragged into the river by their ankles. Trigger then follows up by seizing a gang member’s pistol and shooting the weapon out of the other members hands. They quickly surrender. Wayne herds them toward Rocky City and reasons that Walt will capture the other two outlaws. Soon they’re entering town under a banner announcing that a drawing will be held to determine Rocky City’s next boy sheriff.

When the gang members are delivered, Wayne switches back to his regular persona at the General Store. Walt soon arrives and says he lost the other two gang members and that he’s turning in his badge. Wayne tells him that it will destroy their built-in advantage over the criminal element. Walt is unmoved, but Wayne finally talks him into waiting at least until after the boy sheriff is chosen.

The very next day Walt is presenting a badge to the lottery winner, but the boy refuses, citing his inability to take the position and that he’ll only tarnish the badge and good name of the sheriff’s office. Walt thinks to himself that the kid is just like him, and he’s determined to make certain it doesn’t stick. He pleads with the boy to wear it for only an hour if he must and is determined to allow the boy to prove himself, particularly to himself.

The boy continues to disparage himself as they make the rounds, finally going into the local bank when a couple of flat hats fire on the sheriff, wounding him in the shoulder, taking away his ability to draw a pistol. Just then the boy emerges from the bank and takes in the scene before him. Walt decides he can’t fail in front of the boy and steadily walks onward, impressing the young man no end. In fact, he runs between the marching sheriff and his antagonists, startling Walt.

The action by the boy spurs the sheriff to dive into the gang members, and following it up with his fists. He seems to be on the cusp of victory when one of the men get a bead on him. But the sheriff worshipping boy isn’t finished and kicks the six-shooter out of the hand of the outlaw.

Walt KO’s the criminal and hauls him off to the pokey. In the final panels, Walt and the boy express their appreciation for one another and the boy suggests the sheriff take it easy for the afternoon while he covers for him. Walt then encounters his twin brother, who asks if he’s still considering giving up his duties. Walt denies it and the little 10-page story comes to an end.

I’ve long been a fan of the pencil of Carmine Infantino and we even get his inks in this classic western tale. Carmine would soon be much busier on his better-known work with the Flash and Adam Strange, along with numerous other duties until finally becoming head honcho at DC. I miss chatting with him about his career.

August 1st will be the time to check out the lates here at the Silver Age Sage. If there’s a story or series you’re hankering to know more about, simply let me know: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you then and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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