Despite his dominating presence in the title, The Lone Ranger has a very minor role in The Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro #1. In fact, he only appears in the last couple of pages. The opening of the series belongs to Zorro (for a rather obvious reason suggested in the title) and Jose Solares of the Chumash Mission in 1870 Santa Barbara, CA.
What we find in Don Diego and Solares are two men struggling to find and accept their identities. Solares, a Native American whose father adopted Spanish customs and changed his name, is a chief without faith. Don Diego is living the retired life on a ranch with his wife, whom he has swooning with his smooth talk and charm. It seems perfect, but there’s a void in his life without Zorro.
It’s in the duality of these two men where The Death of Zorro leaves its mark. The character and story development reads like a throwback to the original series. With Zorro and The Lone Ranger, it would be impossible and unwise to approach it any other way. The dual-nature of the characters, however, adds some depth that the original series — and many subsequent incarnations — were missing.
Diego and Solares’ lives begin to spiral out of control when a group of renegade confederate bushwhackers, led by Col. Barton and Sgt. Reeve, raid the Chumash Mission looking to set up camp by any means necessary. When Diego hears word of the raid, he can’t resist but bring Zorro out of retirement to help the people of the mission. It’s in his nature.
Keeping consistent with the original series, Reeve is a pretty lame, faceless villain, whose tough demeanor and intimidating presence isn’t enough for the reader. It’s a character we’ve seen before in nearly every retelling of the Zorro tale. He offers nothing new in this first entry. But that’s true for a lot in The Death of Zorro. The characters, the story, the setting and the way it all unfolds feels a little too familiar.
Anyone who naturally finds themselves drawn to the legends of Zorro or The Lone Ranger will be enraptured by this crossover. Those of us who are lukewarm on these 19th century heroes, however, might only find a few sparks of brilliant storytelling in an otherwise played-out universe.