Monday, February 1, 2016


That a man born a slave, who lived and learned among the Indians, could rise to the status of Deputy Marshal and become one of the greatest (if not most unsung) Wild West legends is a remarkable feat: one might presume otherwise categorized exclusively to fiction.

However, Bass Reeves was a real person who during the late 1800s often entered the Five Civilized Tribes Territory (later to be known as Oklahoma) to capture bad men, per the official blessing of Judge Isaac Parker: a man open-minded enough to recognize Reeve’s exemplary attributes. Reeves was enormously deft at his job, engaging in shootouts with those who dared not be captured and reeling them in by the hundreds, coming away from his many melees amazingly unscathed.

Reeves has been compared to the John Reid, the Lone Ranger, for his conviction in bringing outlaws to justice. In fact, the comparison is further supported by Reeves having been generally accompanied by Native American lawmen (a series of Tontos, if you will) during his missions. 

Indeed, as is the case with any real-life legend (whether Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday or Wild Bill Hickok), the mythology often extends into other avenues. Now it’s Reeves’ turn, and in the latest Airship 27 anthology, “Bass Reeves: Frontier Marshal”, we get a quartet of lively, fictional yarns featuring the real-life hero. 

Airship 27 author/publisher, Ron Fortier also offers an intro to the tales, giving credibility to the central figure and the rough-and-ready means with which he’s able to unravel the various, perplexing scenarios in which he's tossed; the stories are written by Derrick Ferguson, Mel Odom, Gary Phillips, and Andrew Salmon (accompanied by excellent Rob Davis illustrations and dandy Marc Turini front/back cover images). The authors pit Reeves against a number of deceitful and beguiling villains. Reeves confronts them all with his keen eye and utmost cunning, sometimes disguising himself in Lone Ranger fashion to get to the truth and ultimately, his man. The stories are full of action, suspense and above all, quality character development. In essence, the authors weave their tales the way that writers of Western lore used to do, with dignity and atmospheric detail.  (Also, for you fans of televised cowboy adventures, you may very well find that the anthology’s installments play much like those of your beloved by-gone shows.)

Reeves is, whether occupying fact or fiction, as worthy and remarkable as any hero could hope to be: a gentleman and no-nonsense crusader, who's both rough-around-the-edges yet as suave as any super-sleuth. I give Fortier and his writers enormous credit for paying homage to this extraordinary man. For anyone with a cravin' for the cowboy adventurers of the past (whether via the pulp page, radio waves or movies), “Bass Reeves: Frontier Marshall” is an absolute must!!!


  1. Wow, thanks so much for this truly great review.

    1. The pleasure is all mine, Ron. You've done a wonderful service to us all by putting these terrific stories in print. I'm certain the anthology will help escalate Mr. Bass' rightful claim to legendary fame.