Two Gun Kid
Real Name: Clay Harder
Identity/Class: Normal human
Occupation: Cowboy, singer
Affiliations: Cyclone (his horse)
Enemies: Sundance Slade, Wolf Waco
Known Relatives: "Paw" (father), Milly (mother, deceased)
Base of Operations: The Wild West, c.1880s
First Appearance: Two-Gun Kid #1 (Timely, March 1948)
Powers/Abilities: Skilled gunslinger and rider
History: (Two Gun Kid I #1-59; All-Western Winners#2-4, Western Winners #5-6; Best Western #58-59; Black Rider #19-23, Blaze Carson #4, Gunsmoke Western #57, 59, 60-63, Kid Colt #1, Wild West #1-2, Wild Western #3-6, 9, 11, 12, 33-39, 41) Clay Harder grew up on a farm in Kansas, raised by his father. One day, while rummaging in the potato cellar, he found his father's old gun. He found he was a natural with it, but when his father found out, he made his son swear not to forget about all guns. Though he had once been a sheriff himself, he wanted his son to live as a peaceful farmer.
Things didn't work out that way. Years later, a rival rancher killed his father and the now adult Clay was wrongly accused of murder. He went on the run, soon gaining the nickname "The Two-Gun Kid" for his skill with dual pistols. Though he apparently never cleared his name, he became well known across the West for fighting in the cause of justice.
Comments: Created by an unnamed writer and the artist Syd Shores.
As well as being a crack shot, this Two-Gun Kid was also an excellent singer and guitarist, nearly as well known for his music as for his fighting skills.
Issue #59 of Two-Gun Kid was the last appearance of this incarnation of the character. The next issue introduced a new Two-Gun Kid, who had read of this Two-Gun Kid in dime novels, and presumed him to be a fictional character. However, since the last few Marvel Western mini-series have taken the tack that many of the other Western comics produced by Timely/Atlas/Marvel were supposedly fictionalised accounts of real western adventures, perhaps the original Two-Gun Kid was also real (within the Marvel universe), and his predecessor was wrong to think the character he had read about in dime novels had no basis in reality.
Thanks to Jess Nevins for allowing me to use information from his excellent Golden Age Heroes Directory and his Guide to Golden Age Marvel Characters. Thanks also to Richard Boucher & Darrin Wiltshire @ PR-Publications for permission to use information from their equally brilliant collection of Golden Age Sites, PR Publications. Their knowledge of Golden Age characters far outstrips my own.
Real Name: Matthew Liebowitz
Identity/Class: Normal human
Affiliations: Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt, Ringo Kid, Thunder (horse), Nancy Carter (his sweetheart), Ben Dancer, Boom Boom Brown, Hawkeye, the Avengers, Sunset Riders, Reno Jones, Outlaw Kid
Enemies: Moose Morgan, Wild Bill Taggert, Grizzly Grogan, Ringo's Raiders, The Fox, Purple Phantom, Goliath, Jesse James, Geronimo, Galloway Gang, Dakota Thompson, The Panther, Billy the Kid, Bart Concho, Durango, Gunslammer, Cole Younger, The Rattler, Silver Sidewinder, Clem Carter, Hurricane, Kid Cassidy, the Night Riders
Known Relatives: Nancy (wife, deceased), Nancy (daughter, deceased)
Aliases: Matt J. Hawk. Clay Harder
Base of Operations: Tombstone, Texas
First Appearance: Two-Gun Kid #60 (Marvel, November 1962)
Powers/Abilities: Skilled gunfighter and rider.
History: (Two-Gun Kid #60-136, Rawhide Kid #40, 66, Kid Colt #125, Mighty Marvel Western #1-46, Kid Colt #141, Avengers Forever #4-6, Avengers I#141-144, 147, Marvel Tales #100/2, Champions #11, Avengers I #161,162, Ghost Rider II #27, Avengers I #168, 170, 172-175, West Coast Avengers II #18, Marvel Comics Presents #116/4, Daredevil I #215, Unlimited Access #1, Two Gun Kid: Sunset Riders #1,2, Blaze of Glory #2-4) Boston native Matthew Liebowitz studied law at Harvard before setting out to make a new life for himself out west. He settled in Tombstone, Texas, opening his law business under the less ethnic name of Matthew J. Hawk. Soon after he got into town, he ran foul of some of the local ruffians, led by Clem Carter, and received a beating. Not long afterwards the same gang tried picking on an elderly man, Ben Dancer, and Matt, witnessing this, tried to help. It turned out Ben didn't need his assistance, since he had once been a legendary gunman, and one look at the business end of his pistol scared the thugs off. Nonetheless, Ben was still grateful for the thought, and decided to toughen up his new friend by teaching him to shoot. Matt proved to be a natural, and was soon even better than his tutor. Though he kept this new skill a secret, Matt felt inspired to help others, and, remembering the dime novels he had read of Clay Harder, he adopted the masked identity of the Two-Gun Kid.
The Two-Gun Kid fought a variety of colourful enemies, including some who could be considered virtually superhuman, both on his own, and alongside fellow cowboys the Rawhide Kid, the Ringo Kid and Kid Colt. In 1873 he entered what could be considered perhaps the most unusual phase of his life, when he encountered a group of timetravelling superheroes from the future, the Avengers. Befriending the archer, Hawkeye, the Two-Gun Kid even visited the late 20th century for a short while. At some point after he returned home, he married his sweetheart Nancy Carter (sister of the thuggish Clem), but she died giving birth to their daughter, who was named Nancy in her memory. Sadly, the young girl died from rubella when she was four, perhaps taking part of the Kid with her. In the early 1880s he rode for a while with the Sunset Riders, before faking his own death so he could start a new life. He set up in Anaconda, Montana under the alias Clay Harder, another nod to the dime novels that had inspired his other pseudonym. A couple of years later some of his old allies tracked him down and recruited his help defending the town of Wonderment from a group of raiders calling themselves the Night Riders. Though it cost a number of lives, including the Two-Gun Kid, their defence of the town was a success.
Later, during the Silver Age relaunch of the Two-Gun Kid, it was revealed that the first 59 issues of Two-Gun Kid, and presumably every pre-Silver Age appearance of the Two-Gun Kid, were dime novel stories within the Marvel Universe; that is, they had never happened in Marvel continuity.
Comments: (Re-)created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Though Two-Gun Kid #60 stated that Matt Hawk was inspired to use the name "Two-Gun Kid" from dime novels he read, I don't take this to mean that Clay Harder was not real in the Marvel universe - after all, Blaze of Glory, the final adventure of Matt Hawk, established that dime novels had been released based on his adventures - so why couldn't the same be true for the original Two-Gun Kid?
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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