The Lone Ranger and Zorro sounds like a hell of a team-up. Righters of wrongs, avengers of the common man, deliverers of outlaw justice. It made perfect sense for Dynamite Comics to put these two western legends in the same book… but then they gave us a stunning swerve by killing off Zorro in the first issue.
One might say that should have been expected in a book entitled The Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro, but come on. Shot in the back by renegade confederate bushwhackers? Sure, Don Diego been long retired and living a happy life with his wife before hearing about how these jerks stormed into a Chumash Indian village with their guns and racist bastardry and killed all the men and made the women and children servants, but you just don't figure a five-issue miniseries about the death of a legend is going to off him like a punk right off the bat.
What's worse for Zorro is that in #2, we see that Col. Augustus Barton, the man who gunned him down, has left the hero's corpse on display in plain view, with a sign above him reading "What Happens To Heroes." These men are complete degenerates, clinging to the Confederacy five years after the Civil War ended, treating people like animals and threatening to execute all of them with a Gatling gun if they don't fall in line. There couldn't be a riper gang of sumbitches for some serious justice meted out by The Lone Ranger and his badass kemosabe Tonto.
First order of business, however, is to recover the body of Don Diego and return it to his home, which gives us a much more proper eulogy, as we learn that John Reid's transformation into the Lone Ranger has roots in a story his father once told about crossing paths with Zorro, who had set things right for him after a crooked man named Cruz had tried to swindle him out of the money he needed to start his family. By the end of the issue, we know that the masked hero won't rest until Don Diego has been avenged… and we learn the pair is going to have some help from a group of men called La Justicia, led by El Latigo (The Whip), who have come to uphold their sacred oath to do just the same. That's something we can't wait to see.
Writer Ande Parks has to follow in the footsteps of Bret Matthews, who gave us a popular 25-issue run on The Lone Ranger solo series, and while some might say his villains here are a bit too one-dimensionally evil, that's part of the charm of westerns sometimes. The line between good guys and bad guys is more clear, and while characters like Jonah Hex do a great job of walking that line and making it compelling, there must be others on both sides to make that line mean anything in the first place. Esteve Polls does an admirable job with shadows and light, as well as with the vistas crucial to any old west yarn.
With three issues left in this series, it seems almost mandated that someone new will pick up the mantle of Zorro by the end of it and give Dynamite a new series, although they've recently announced that Matt Wagner and Polls will be teaming up for Zorro Rides Again this July, which continues Don Diego's story, so perhaps we should have learned by now that what's expected from The Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro is never what will happen.