Review: The Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro #5

The Masked Man's efforts to avenge the wrongful demise of Don Diego De La Vega finally come to pass, leaving more death in their wake.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

The Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro #5

Despite its title, The Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro was not really about the death of the hero Don Diego De La Vega, but rather his legacy.  Zorro was gunned down in the first issue, and the aftermath of that tragedy has been mostly stories of inspiration, dedication and honor.  So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that the climactic final battle between our heroes, their allies and the nefarious Confederate bushwhackers is not quite the barnburner some of us had hoped for.  Ande Parks' story has consistently defied expectations, as his focus was clearly elsewhere.

A quick recap:  the aforementioned nefarious Confederate bushwhackers have stormed a mission inhabited by the Chumash Indians, slaughtered their men, enslaved their women and children and have set up a gatling gun to defend what they view as their well-deserved new home after life on the run for so long.  Don Diego came out of retirement as Zorro to try and right this wrong, and wound up shot in the back for his trouble.  The Lone Ranger and Tonto heard tell of the tragedy and set out to help, and avenge this murder, as have Zorro's old running buddies known as La Justicia, who dress an awful lot like Zorro themselves – enough to make this issue a little confusing, without the prior issues handy for reference.

The notes about Parks' story focus are not to say it's a bad story, or that he ignores the battle altogether.  As I feared in my review of the last issue, though, it just seemed a little rushed, and unfortunately, the action that is present is failed a bit by the inconsistent art of Esteve Polls.  He's done a good job with moody tone (although that may be more due to the coloring work of Oscar Manuel Martin), Polls' art just isn't as kinetic, dynamic or accomplished as the story demands of it, lending to a somewhat deflated feeling, despite how badly we wanted to see these bushwhackers get what's coming to them.

While we do get a pretty badass moment where Tonto chokes out Bushwhacker Sergeant Reeve with a heavy forearm to the throat, but the Ranger's fight with Buswhacker Colonel Barton isn't quite as inspiring – especially considering the moment where Barton's beaten him down, and then goes to the gatling gun and starts slaughtering the incoming tribesmen.  Our man John Reid gets to his feet, but instead of dive-tackling Barton or something to get him to stop murdering everybody, he just yells his name.  And he has to do it twice before Barton notices and turns his attention to him.  How many were killed in that moment of inaction?  When Cesar, a former ward of Don Diego, saves the Lone Ranger's life with a well-placed bullet to Barton's chest, the hero tries to mount a complaint about lethality, but it dies quickly once they both view the killing field below them.

So the actual battle is a bit off, but again, Parks' story is more about legacy, made more evident by the fact that he's framed this last chapter with 1950 bookends, featuring an elderly Cesar explaining the legend of Zorro to bored schoolchildren, detailing how he left the Chumash once the mission was undertaken to join the ranks of La Justicia himself.  "I trained just as El Zorro had trained, took the same sacred oath he took, in an attempt to become even a shadow of the man he was."  That's the legacy of his father figure, Don Diego De La Vega.  It takes a singular effort to become a singular man such as he, and Cesar knows this much in his old age, long after the western heroes of legend have gone.  And no matter how many kids yawn through his old stories, he knows he only has to reach one of them to inspire them to pursue a life of dedication and honor.

That's what Parks' story is really about, and despite the troubles with the art and the issues with the pacing of the story, it's still one of those tales that leaves you with a wistful appreciation of an era long gone.