Another early collection of Lucky Luke tales at a time when Morris was doing all the hard graft as artist and writer. First of all there’s Rodeo, where Luke stops off in a town looking for a bed for the night only to cross paths with a bully of a villain called Cactus Kid looking to dominate the rodeo the following day. Of course Luke isn’t having any of it, especially when they both find themselves vying for the same hotel room, and some deft footwork swiftly knocks Cactus Kid down a peg or two. With a little mischief in his eye Luke decides to enter the rodeo against him, and although not everything goes Luke’s way you can imagine it all gets straightened out in the end.
The second story involves a city of miscreants in the pay of a mystery man who all have little time for the sheriff and the law. The biggest rogues are the Pistol brothers, dab hands with their guns, and intent on taking Luke out of the picture. Channelling a little more Western gun-toting action than your average Lucky Luke tale, it strikes a good balance between humour and tension as the ne’erdowells chase Luke around town.
The third tale has some more mischief by Luke, albeit cast as innocent fun. However, the prank quickly gets completely of hand as Luke tricks a prospector into thinking he’s discovered gold and before he can stop it there’s a full on gold rush taking place. The story is an interesting parable in greed and assumption, although perhaps not Lucky Luke’s noblest hour.
I’d certainly point you towards the brilliant Morris & Goscinny run as a starting point if you’d never seen a Lucky Luke before, which isn’t to decry the contents of Rodeo. This is a book with stories that, at times, show their age, and where not all the classic elements are in place, which suits me just fine as I know what the books become, but someone new may be forgiven for wondering if this was as good as it got. Personally I’m finding the ongoing collection a fascinating insight into Morris’s development as a creator and how Lucky Luke has changed as a character, and Rodeo is a welcome addition to it.
And if you liked that: Lots and lots of Lucky Luke at www.cinebook.com