As I said in my last review of this miniseries, we should have learned by now that what's expected from The Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro is never what will happen. Not only did they kill off Zorro in the first issue, but in Part The Fourth, we still haven't gotten into the fight to free the Chumash from the nefarious Confederate bushwhackers of Col. Augustus Barton – in fact, we even get some mild shades of gray in said bushwhackers' nefariousness. Not enough to make them un-nefarious, of course, but at least we see their motivations beyond nefarious racist bastardry which is most certainly, unrepentantly nefarious.
As Barton laments quietly that he knows his Confederate bushwhackers' dreams of living out their lives with the run of the place they've just conquered won't last long, the stage is now fully set for the Lone Ranger to finally storm the gates of the Chumash Mission, while the subjugated Chumash women, children and elders plot to destroy Barton's squad from within. Zorro's honorable friends La Justicia finally make contact with our masked man, and the Yokut tribe has also formed an alliance with them to root out the bushwhackers (which is a word one doesn't get to write often, so expect to see it as often as possible here). The Lone Ranger and Tonto launch their first strike to waylay a bushwhacker supply run, and in the midst of that, there's even some indication that Cesar, Don Diego's most sage horse trainer, may be stepping up to the plate enough that he may eventually take over his late boss' role as Zorro. We've got no evidence of his swordplay or fair play, for that matter – just a talent for survival and a ruthless sense of justice. In #4, he shoots one of the bushwhackers in the back after they murder his friend Pablo in the firefight, just as they did to Don Diego. Zorro was not one for killing his adversaries, so perhaps those indications are a red herring of sorts. It's possible I just want some actual Lone Ranger/Zorro team-ups and am looking for any path towards getting them.
Anyway, while Ande Parks' story thus far has been good about establishing mood, providing interesting flashbacks and building the bushwhacker threat into something ominously daunting, one has to be concerned that there is only one issue left with which to resolve the action. While it promises to be a rootin', tootin', gun-slinging kind of climax, there's nonetheless some trepidation that it might wind up feeling rushed. However, that's just concern, not fact, and judgment shall be reserved until the final chapter is writ. While Esteve Polls' art occasionally leaves a bit to be desired as far as faces go, the inks and the colors by Oscar Manuel Martin work wonderfully in creating the atmosphere of this relatively somber tale.
Dynamite's Lone Ranger stories haven't all been 'gleaming hero saves the day' types of adventures, and given the tragic pall hanging over the characters in The Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro, this one will likely fall into that category, even if we can't wait to see these bushwhackers get their comeuppance. Despite what few mitigating factors there are for these weary southern soldiers, there ain't no death too gruesome for these bushwhackin' bushwhacker bastards not to deserve.
CRAVE RATING: 7/10