Comics / DC Comics History

DC Comics History: Buffalo Bill


By Deejay Dayton
Apr 18, 2017 - 10:33

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Of the three series to run in Frontier Fighters during the period 1955 – 1959: Dawn of the Silver Age, easily my favourite was Buffalo Bill. The series is really just as racist as the other two in the book, but at least it had art by Joe Kubert.

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The debut story shows the carnival operator back in his days of being a guide. There is some lovely Kubert art on this tale, and a decent range of characters on the wagon train that Bill is leading through Pawnee territory, heading for California.

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In this instance, the story is a bit less about battling the Pawnee, and a bit more about the people Bill is leading, who start off as frightened to fight, and wind up courageous and heroic as they invade the Pawnee's land and kill them. Sir Percy Smythe, a British gentleman provides some comic relief as an effective foil for Buffalo Bill in the story, and will return in a few more of his tales.

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The Buffalo Bill story in Frontier Fighters 2 is about building a train line to bring the white settlers west.  The chief of the Pawnee tribe that the train is going to cut through is sanguine about the situation, but the younger braves are not, and want to sabotage the train line.

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Bill rides along on the first trip, and helps hold off the attacks.  The braves blow a dam to flood the river and destroy a train bridge, but the train makes across in time.  At the end, the chief makes the braves rebuild the bridge.

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Buffalo Bill shows off the power of the Gatling gun, the prototype of a machine gun, to pesky natives that are causing him problems in Frontier Fighters 3. Sir Percy Smythe returns in this tale, accompanying Bill as he displays the power of the gun to terrified natives.  They call it the Magic Thunderstick. 

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The Cheyenne try to get the gun from Bill and Smythe, and really they probably could have.  They vastly outnumber the two men.  But of course Bill gets the gun back to the whites, who will use it properly.  To kill and threaten natives.

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Sir Percy Smythe is back in Frontier Fighters 5. Bill winds up in an argument with some voyageurs, who are just referred to as French in this story.  But they are canoe-using fur traders, so they are voyageurs.  They each claim to be able to navigate a rapids-laden river faster than the other, and the race comprises the bulk of the story. Some natives try to take advantage of the situation to cause problems for both sides in the race, but this almost feels wedged in just to have some bad natives in the story. 

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The river race itself is deadly, and makes for great visuals.  Bill's side could win, but choose to wait and cross the finish line at the same time as the voyageurs, to make the point that they all need to work together to achieve more.

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In Frontier Fighters 6 we get to see a younger version of the hero.  Bill does appear at the age he has been shown in the rest of this run, but an old cowboy tells some young boys about Bill's youth as a Pony Express rider. Bill has to make a long relay ride out to California, and a couple of men try to bribe him to stop. 

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They represent the Overland Stage, who will lose out on their government contracts if the Pony Express proves itself.  Bill refuses, and then not only has to deal with the long trek, but also with the men trying to stop him.

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Buffalo Bill’s series comes to an end in Frontier Fighters 8. The story is a fun one, dealing with aging pioneers whose settled children are too tame for them.  They all leave town to go found a new city.  Buffalo Bill gets sent out to find them by their worried children. 

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The men are in outlaw Cheyenne territory, and though they talk a good game, when the Cheyenne attack they need Bill's help to fight them off. The notion of a contest between the men and their kids is bandied about, but after the Cheyenne attack the old settlers decide to just move back home and relax in their agedness.

Buffalo Bill: Frontier Fighters 1 – 8 (Sept/Oct 55 – Nov/Dec 56)

Next up – Kit Carson!


Last Updated: May 15, 2017 - 12:13

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