What lurks beneath those smoldering eyes and that stylishly cut suit with beaver pelt accessories is no real mystery. Marvel Comics has publicly stated that the new, improved Rawhide Kid character is gay. Not openly gay mind you, but gay nonetheless. The merry gunslinger will set out on the prairie, repeatedly saving the day and slaying bad men, but mysteriously never getting the girl (or anyone else for that matter). Other than mildly suggestive asides and the confused reactions of townspeople he encounters, the Kid will not overtly state his sexual preference.

Eighty-six-year-old artist John Severin has been teamed with writer Ron Zimmerman, a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show. Their first installment in the Slap Leather series will list at $2.95 a swishy pop. Most liberal Americans might agree that its high time the comic book industry got with the program, so to speak. But come on, people, its also high time for us to fess up. Gay comic book heroes are not exactly a new concept. We all knew, however subconsciously, about Batman and Robin from the get-go. What about the Lone Ranger and Tonto? Please. How many times must a couple ride off into a neon-pink sunset before someone gets the picture? As the kid puts it: "I think that mask and powder-blue outfit are fantastic! I can certainly see why that Indian follows him around."


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