The Rough Bunch

The Heroes of America's Old West

Jonah Hex •  Cinnamon • Nighthawk • Vigilante • Bat Lash

Named as the Rough Bunch: Guy Gardner: Warrior #24 (September 1994)

On many occasions during the Nineteenth Century, the heroes of the Old West found cause to ally themselves with one another. Most of these encounters were one-on-one, but several crises brought groups of these gunslingers together. Only once did they appear to have assembled under any name: during a battle with Extant during the "Zero Hour," the band of heroes called themselves the Rough Bunch. Before that, however, fate and cosmic crisis drew them together several times.

In November of 1872, Tomahawk's brother-in-law, Wise Owl became corrupt and harnessed the power of the time-lost Swamp Thing (Alec Holland). He enslaved El Diablo and drew the attention of other heroes, including: the newly-married Johnny Thunder and Madame .44; Bat Lash, who'd won control over the nearly mindless 400-year old Super-Chief from Buffalo Bill, in a high-stakes card game; and Black Bison. At the same time, the elderly Hawk (son of Tomahawk) and Firehair met Jonah Hex on their own search for the Swamp Thing. Hawk possessed the "Claw of Elk Hound," which he knew from prophesy would free the Swamp Thing. Super-Chief was able to release Alec and Wise Owl was killed. Behind the scenes, Jason Blood had hired the heroes to pursue Wise Owl. Before the Claw was used to send Swamp Thing on through time, the group posed for a photo (on November 7, 1872), which was later printed in Hawk's book Hawk, Son of Tomahawk. (Swamp Thing #85) Note: The long-term radiation from his meteorite gave Super-Chief a severe mental impairment, in addition to granting his immortality. Physically, he could no longer move or remain conscious, except when taking full action during his "hour of great power."

Rip Hunter began a quest to destroy Vandal Savage and his Illuminati — a conspiracy for world domination — by going back in time. To this end, Hunter's associate, Jeff was sent back to September, 1874 in Oaxaca, Mexico. There, Jonah Hex, Bat Lash, and Scalphunter had been hired by the Illuminati to protect the Mexican leader, Porfiro Diaz. The heroes befriended Jeff and brought him with them to Diaz' dinner that evening. Among the guests were Spanish ambassador Enrique Valdez, French banker Alphonse de Rothschild, and future US President, Rutherford B. Hayes. During the dinner, Valdez drew a gun on Diaz and was shot in turn by Hex. Jeff decided that Diaz' conspiracy was too great an evil and set about assassinating the tyrant. Hex stopped him just as Jeff activated his time-transporter and returned to the Twentieth Century. (Time Masters #3)

In 1878, Bat Lash, Scalphunter, Cinnamon and Jonah Hex met four time-tossed members of the Twentieth Century Justice League of America: Zatanna, Flash, Green Lantern and the Elongated Man. The Leaguers had lost their memories when they were sent back in by the Lord of Time. The Lord's goal was to harness a mass of anti-matter which struck Earth in that year. The heroes met up in Desecration, Arizona and discovered the Lord's robot gunfighters. The robots lured the heroes to the north to the Grand Canyon where Green Lantern discovered the anti-matter mass heading towards the planet. The JLA destroyed the meteor and were returned home by Superman. The Western heroes finished off the robots and moved on along. (Justice League of America #198-199) NOTE: This happened shortly after a meeting between Scalphunter and Bat Lash. (Weird Western #64)

The largest assembly of heroes happened in 1879, when the 20th Century villain, Extant, took his battle across time. Once again, heroes from the future appeared (Warrior, Supergirl, Steel & Batgirl). But the heroes of the Old West had already mobilized against this threat. They called themselves the Rough Bunch and battled Extant's time-zombies. This group included Nighthawk, Bat Lash, Scalphunter, Johnny Thunder, El Diablo, Madame .44, Cinnamon, Matt Savage, Pow-Wow Smith and Strongbow. (Guy Gardner, Warrior #24)

The great cosmic Crisis drew these heroes together again in 1879. Bat Lash, Scalphunter, Nighthawk, Jonah Hex and Johnny Thunder discovered one of the Monitor's vibrational towers and encountered the tower's protectors: a group from the 20th century. Hex recognized Green Lantern (John Stewart), and soon the anti-matter wave was upon them. (Crisis #3) NOTE: In this story, Nighthawk perished. In post-Crisis continuity, he dies at the hand of Matilda Dunney.

Soon thereafter, all time periods merged and the surviving heroes were summoned to the 20th century by the Monitor, who had managed to forestall the cataclysm. (Crisis #4) Another group of heroes was drawn from across the timestream and led by Firebrand to stop the launch of a death ray at Cape Canaveral. Her team included Westerners Don Caballero, the Trigger Twins, and the Roving Ranger in addition to the Black Pirate, Miss Liberty, the Viking Prince, the Golden Gladiator, the Silent Knight and Valda, and the Iron Maiden. They came to clash with a group of Native Americans that included Strongbow, Super-Chief and Arak. When Firebrand saved Super-Chief's life, the two groups banded together against the Anti-Monitor's troops. (All-Star Squadron #54-55)

List of Characters

None of the following heroes is known to have survived to the current day...

Hero (Real Name) First Appearance Notes Creators
Bat Lash (Bartholomew Aloysius Lash), Gambler Showcase #76 Final fate unknown Dave Gibbons
Black Bison (Bison-Black-as-Midnight-Sky), Shaman of the Bison Cult Fury of Firestorm #1 Final fate unrevealed. Succeeded by his great-grandson, John Ravenhair (Black Bison II) Gerry Conway & Pat Broderick
Cinnamon (Katherine "Kate" Manser), Bounty hunter Weird Western Tales #48 Killed by Matilda Dunney Roderic (Hawkman v.4 #7). Reincarnated as Hawkgirl I & II. Brent Anderson
El Diablo (Lazarus Lane), Bank teller All-Star Western #3 Final fate ??. Succeeded by Rafael Sandoval, El Diablo II. Gray Morrow
Firehair (none), White man raised by Blackfoot Indian tribe Showcase #85 Final fate unknown Joe Kubert
Hawk, Son of Tomahawk (n/a), Frontiersman Tomahawk #131 Wrote an autobiography sometime after 1872. Final fate unknown. Frank Thorne
Johnny Thunder (John Tane), Teacher All-American Western #100 Married Madame .44 and had two children. Final fate unknown Gil Kane
Jonah Hex (Jonah Woodson Hex), Civil War soldier and bounty hunter All-Star Western Tales #10 Shot and killed in 1904 at the age of 66 by George Barrow. His corpse is on display as part of a traveling revue (DC Special #16). Mark Texeira & Tony DeZuniga
Madame .44 (Jeanne Walker Tane), Photographer All-Star Western #117 Married Johnny Thunder and had two children. Final fate unknown. Gil Kane
Nighthawk (Hannibal Hawkes), Traveling repairman Western Comics #5 Killed by Matilda Dunney (Hawkman v.4 #7). Reincarnated as Hawkman I. Leonard Starr
Pow-Wow Smith (Ohiyesa), Sheriff Detective Comics #151-202, Western Comics #43-85 Final fate unknown Don Cameron & Carmine Infantino
Scalphunter (Brian Savage, Ke-Woh-No-Tay), White man raised by Kiowa Indian tribe Weird Western Tales #39 Killed battling members of the occult Tuesday club (Starman v.2 #74). George Evans
Strong Bow ??, All-Star Squadron #54-55 Final fate unknown.  
Super-Chief (Flying Stag, Saganowahna), Iroquois warrior and hunter All-Star Western #117 (1961) Ended up in the possession of Bat Lash. Final fate unknown; may be immortal. Carmine Infantino; Dick Giordano
Trail Boss (Matt Savage), Cattle drover Western Comics #77 Final fate unknown Carmine Infantino; Bernard Sachs
Billy the Kid (Billy Jo; last name unrevealed), Gun-woman All-Star Western #6-8 Final fate unknown John Albano and Tony DeZuniga
Don Caballero (n/a), Expert fencer All-Star Western #58, All-Star Squadron #54-55 Final fate unknown Bill Wray
El Castigo (Don Fernando Suarez), Masked hero Flash Comics #1 Final fate unknown Mike Gustovich
El Papagayo (n/a), Bandit gang leader Jonah Hex #2 Final fate unknown Mark Texeira; Frank Giacoia
Rodeo Rick (last name unrevealed), Rodeo Rider Western Comics #1-27, 31-37, 39-67 and 69 (1947-1958) Final fate unknown Gardner Fox
Roving Ranger (Jeff Graham), Texas Ranger All-Star Western #58-61, 63-65 (1951-1952), All-Star Squadron #54-55 Final fate unknown Mike DeCarlo, Karl Kesel
Trigger Twins (Walter Trigger; Wayne Trigger), Sheriff (Walter); Merchant (Wayne) All-Star Western #58, All-Star Squadron #54-55 Final fate unknown Carmine Infantino; Dick Giordano
Vigilante (Greg Sanders), Country singer Action Comics #42 Active in modern-day 21st century. Gray Morrow
Wyoming Kid (Bill Polk), Traveling lawman for hire Western Comics #1 Final fate unknown Tom Yeates

Appearances + References


Groups only:

  • All-Star Squadron #54-55
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #3
  • Guy Gardner: Warrior #24
  • Swamp Thing v.2 #85
  • Time Masters #3


  • Western Comics, 85 issues (1948-61)
  • Tomahawk, 140 issues (1950-72)
  • All-Star Western v.1, #58-119 (1951-61)
  • All-Star Western v.2, #1-11 (1970-72) becomes …
  • Weird Western Tales, #12-70 (1972-80)
  • Johnny Thunder, 3 all-reprint issues (1973)
  • Jonah Hex, 92 issues (1977-85)
  • Hex, 18 issues (1985-87)
  • Jonah Hex v.2, 70 issues (2006-11)