Tex Willer, or Tex, is a very popular Italian western comic. Created by Gian Luigi Bonelli and Aurelio Galleppini in 1948, it became a success thanks to its beautiful artwork, fine cast of likable characters and engrossing stories, and it is still ongoing.The comic depicts the adventures of a heroic Texas Ranger named Tex Willer who rights wrongs in the Old West with his snarky friend Kit Carson, his resourceful son Kit Willer and his trusty Navajo ally Tiger Jack.The comic portrays Native Americans sympathetically and has deep, thought-provoking storylines with a good balance of humour and drama. The story began with Tex's early adventures, and he gradually aged in subsequent years while gaining friends, fathering a son and attracting the attention of many notorious and dangerous villains (and villainesses) along the way.Tex is also well-known outside Italy, particularly in Brazil, with publishing in various formats◊, and the Nordic countries where it almost rivals Donald Duck fandom.Now that you're here, have a look at the Character Sheet too.
Tex Willer provides examples of:
Action Girl: Rarely seen, but they're here. One of the earliest and perhaps best examples is Lupe, a mexican girl who Tex rescued. She accompanied him during his trip in Mexico to save Montales, saved his life at least twice (and in turn Tex tried his best to save her when she was in danger).
Always Chaotic Evil: The Hualapai people: every time they show up, they're trying to kill our heroes and bragging about it. Justified each and every time: the first time it was a group that Mefisto had brainwashed into working for him as Mooks and adoring him as a god, the second time it was a small group of survivors of the group of the first time that still worked for Mefisto even after getting almost exterminated by the Navajos, and the third time we have a large band of warriors who are pissed at what Tex and the Hualapai War did to their people and have just found a charismatic leader.
Among the Hualapai, Manitary (the charismatic leader mentioned above) takes the cake. At first he's presented as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, who believes himself on a Mission From the Great Spirit to unite all the Indians and take back their land. Then we learn from a Paiute shaman he's murdering anyone who dares to question him (said shaman barely escaped an attempted murder for cautioning against following him), and he's actually planning to subjugate the Navajos.
Animal Assassin: Ohh boy, the series has a long and varied list. The very first example involved rattlesnakes. Other notable assassins included a ferocious gorilla, coguars, alligators, tarantulas, panthers and killer trained buzzards. Of course, none of them had success.
Anti-Villain: Ricardo Mendoza in the Rangers of Patagonia story.
From the same story we have lieutenant (later major) Belmonte, in a strange variation: he's a racist who despises Indians as savages, and would like nothing better than to get rid of the tribes of Patagonia, but as long as they aren't hostile he's content to let them be, and has a strict sense of justice. It's said sense of justice that, at the end, prompts him to try and shoot Tex and former soldier Julio, as the former had arrived to help the Argentine army but ditched them when it became clear that peace with the Indians was impossible and the latter was a deserter, getting him shot by Mendoza.
Arms Dealer: We have both gun shop owners and Gangland Gun Runners, the latter often involved in plans to cause Indian Wars so they or their associates will be able to move in their lands after the army stomp the insurrection.
The second kind is firmly in place as the most despicable villains of the series due to two of them, Brennan and Teller, trying to murder Tex by causing a smallpox epidemic among the Navajos (Tex's Roaring Rampage of Revenge was something epic, and what he did to the last survivor when he finally caught up with him is described in the Nightmare Fuel page).
Bat out of Hell: Ahriman, Lord of the Third Circle, is a literal example: he's a demon lord who helps Yama and appears as a human-faced bat.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: El Morisco does this to Yama of all people when the latter uses magic to try to spy on his house. Morisco answers by summoning a very strong squall that forces Yama to withdraw.
Earlier this happened to Mefisto! Usually it's Mefisto who torments other people with apparitions and, if they are stupid or unlucky enough to look him in the eyes, hypnosis-generated hallucinations, but when Padma decided to deal with Mefisto, he caused the latter fellow such horrific hallucinations he was reduced to an harmless loon, and wasn't there to hypnotize him.
Berserk Button: If you dare mock Native Americans or call Tex a liar, be prepared to either eat your words or get a mouth full of fist.
And God help you if you actually wound or kill some of Tex's family or friends, or a Navajo. The fate of the final survivor of the gang that killed his wife is described in the Nightmare Fuel page.
Bounty Hunter: Tex has faced a few of these, most notably El Muerto.
Bowdlerization: A rather infamous case, in the first volume upon spotting the villains Tex says "Lo sceriffo e i suoi scagnozzi" (The sheriff and his crooks). In the reprint it's changed to "Lo sceriffo e i suoi uomini" (The sheriff and his men).
Bullying The Dragon: Happens surprisingly often, as some idiots dare and piss off Tex while knowing perfectly who they're dealing with. The trophy is shared by the duo of Sam Hope and Bart Barlow and the gang of Barry Lance: the first two shot a group of Navajo boys in cold blood and expected to get away with it (they ended up killing each other while trying to escape the sheriff of Gallup, Tex and one hundred Navajo warriors. Who just wanted to have them arrested and hanged according to the law), while the second group destroyed the gravestone of Tex's wife Lilyth just to piss him off (Tex killed them all). Barry Lance and his gang are Justified: they had found a way to the Navajo gold mines but knew that if they met Tex they were toast, so part of the gang destroyed the gravestone specifically to lure him out of the reservation while the rest reached the mines and stole a crapload of nuggets (Tex still managed to kill both groups).
A particular story featured two of them. One was the story's Big Bad, the other was the Big Bad's father...who used the fact he was the one with all the money in town to defang his son and force the local sheriff and judge to actually apply the law (thus ending the story's conflict in the heroes' favour, clearing Kit from a charge of murder and relative death sentence in the process). Nobody had expected this, more out of him being a cripple (who allowed the son to do what he wanted for so long in the first place) than not knowing he had morals.
Dark Action Girl: This comic had his share of villainesses, starting with Satania and proceeding among scheming ladies and witches. Since Tex doesn't harm girls, they usually end up killing themselves or dying by backstabbing or by snake bite.
Darker and Edgier: Stories written by Mauro Boselli and Sergio Bonelli (under alias of Nolitta) are considerably more violent than those by Gianluigi Bonelli and Claudio Nizzi. They're also more prone to have a bittersweet note at the end, and sometimes villains aren't just Card-Carrying Villains, or then they are way worse. Stories by Antonio Segura are even MORE darker and violent than Boselli/Nolitta stories.
Deadpan Snarker: Carson is definitely guilty of this although Tex isn't that far behind either.
Deal with the Devil: What Mefisto eventually ends up doing, thus becoming one of Tex's deadliest enemies.
Didnt Do The Research: Or rather, couldn't. In the beginning, Bonelli had a lot of work and nearly no material to check for his works,so many inaccuracies can be found.
Didn't See That Coming: Many baddies didn't see Tex coming, and lost for that. Some particularly dangerous ones did see him but failed seeing him bringing a few hundreds Navajos or the US Army as reinforcement.
In his third appearance, Mefisto was defeated because of this: he did saw everything Tex could bring against him, but didn't expect Padma (an exiled Buddhist monk that had saved his life, and a medium so powerful it is implied he can kill with his magic, something Mefisto himself can't) to survive receiving a brazier to the head, telling Tex where he could find him and driving Mefisto to a state of harmless madness.
Escalating Brawl: Several examples, including an epic brawl that ends when Gros Jean kicks all the bad guys out of the inn and then chops the supporting pillars with an axe, wrecking the whole place.
Evil Sorcerer: Mefisto and his son Yama. It also happens in stories concerning voodoo and similar stuff.
Brennan, the last survivor of Lylith's murderers, was subjected to a nightmarish psychological torture before being eaten by sharks. Unlike Mephisto's death, this was on purpose.
Fastest Gun in the West: Tex is pretty much the fastest gunslinger out there... although there have been a few who have bested him.
Ruby Scott appeared to draw faster than Tex in a duel, but he had a custom holster that could be spun into shooting position, allowing Scott to shoot without even drawing his gun. After surviving, and still bleeding from the wound, Tex set the record straight and shot him dead in a second duel drawing with his left (and Tex is right-handed).
From Nobody to Nightmare: Steve Dickart, a slimy spy who sells secrets to the Mexicans and performs as a Stage Magician under the name of Mefisto. After his first defeat and escaping being hanged he comes back, and this time is a real sorcerer and a legitimate threat to our heroes. The same goes for his son Yama, who was a mere circus artist and was eventually turned into a sorcerer after following his father's footsteps.
Going Native: Partly. Tex spends a lot of his free time with his Navajo tribe although he is often drawn back to civilization to help someone in need.
Half-Breed Discrimination: Kit Willer is half-Navajo, half-white. It often gets him in trouble in towns which don't tolerate anyone with "Injun blood."
Hearing Voices: The Head Hunter from The Mysterious Voice is compelled by a "voice" in his head (caused by a trauma in Borneo during the assault of some angry natives), which causes him to dress up as an Ape and ride out in the night, bellowing and waving a massive scimitar which he uses to behead any unfortunate soul he comes across.
Jack The Rip Off: In one story, Tex Willer's trouble in a town are doubled by the presence of a serial killer of women who's pretty much a lookalike of Jack the Ripper, known as "Lo Sventratore" (lit. The Gutter, ripper instead is translated as "lo Squartatore".) Turns out, is a girl, the same girl who's been helping Tex fighting the bad guys of the week and also gives a bit of psycho Motive Rant about being disgusted by women who "sells themselves".
Kick the Dog: Many of Tex's enemies do it, but the top dog-kickers are Teller & Brennan, two arms dealer that, in revenge for Tex ruining a prosperous arms trade for them, tried to kill him by unleashing a smallpox epidemic on the Navajos (by chance, Tex was away with Kit when it happened), killing his wife in the process.
Tex did it in one occasion: when he finally found Brennan (who had barely survived Tex's initial Roaring Rampage of Revenge and managed to lose him), his end was the second most horrible in the entire series, topped only by Mefisto's.
Knight Errant: Tex and his friends travel around the US a lot (and sometimes even go abroad) setting things right.
Large Ham: Mefisto tends to do this a lot, usually when showing off his powers. Another memorable example is the "Great King" Luis from the omonimous story.
Mad Scientist: The first and most memorable example being Vindex: an insane midget who wants to create a new "Empire of the Sun" terrorizing his subjects with giant puma.
Mama Bear: The indian witch Zhenda, (described by Tex as a "sort of skirt-wearing Mefisto), is mostly motivated by her love for her son and the desire to make him the proper leader of the Navajos instead of Tex.
Maniac Monkeys: Gombo, Satania's pet, is a ferocious gorilla who's sent after Tex, who barely survives to his attack thanks to Carson's help, and takes a lot of bullets before dying. Also the disguise worn by the "Head Hunter" from the "Mysterious Voice" story.
Mighty Whitey: Tex becomes the chief of the Navajo tribe and gains the name Eagle of the Night. This title gives him some privileges among other tribes who recognize his authority, and he uses his position to help the tribes which other whites try to use for their own gain. Tex is very respectful of different tribes' customs, however, and often sees Native Americans as better people than whites.
Our Werewolves Are Different: Diablero has the eponymous monster revealed to be a native who's turned into a feral beastman by a potion given to him by his own sister, a witch. Said witch can also control wolves through unclear means.
Our Zombies Are Different: Zombies are first seen during Yama's first arrival: in this case, is simply a dead guy who had just died with a voodoo amulet around his neck, and can still move, think and shoot. Later during the second confrontation with the Black Tiger, his sorcerer ally summons some zombies to kill Tex and co.
Outlaw: Many of Tex's enemies are these. Tex himself was one before joining the Rangers.
Papa Wolf: Try threatening or harming any members of Tex's family, and you'll come to regret it.
Raised by Natives: Partly. Although Tex was occasionally around to look after Kit when Lilyth died, he was often called on duty and thus left Kit to be raised by the Navajo tribe.
Ripped from the Headlines: Many stories are based on actual historical events. Two prominent examples are the recent "Rangers of Patagonia", based on the Argentinian conflict known as Conquest of the Desert (with the appearance of some of the historical characters, most prominently the chief Calfucurą), and the celebrated story arc "Navajo Blood", based on the historical murder of the son of a Navajo chief and a hundred Navajos leaving the Reservation to hunt the murderers down.
He also did an epic one against the crooks who caused the death of Lilyth.
Running Gag: Every time we see a telegraph office, the employee gets scared, killed or the butt of some joke. Some examples: in "The Blood Pact" the first telegraph employee to appear is lured into sending a very offending (and fully justified) message to the Ranger headquarter with the excuse 'It's a secret code', while the second one is killed by Mooks while he gives ammo to Tex and Carson besieged in his office; in the story "Navajo Blood" the employees thinks they're going to be killed by the rebelling Navajos, who are there to escort a journalist who needs to send an enormous report to the Washington Post (the Navajos also escorted the money to pay for the message: it was big enough that the editor of the Post called it a novel upon getting it, and the employees doubted he could pay before seeing the cash); in "Son of the Wind" the employee decides to poke some fun at Tiger Jack, Tex's Navajo companion, who promptly threatened him with a knife, has him send the message and pays for the service with a smile before telling him his female coworker could resume breathing.
Also, Carson's hat being used as decoy for enemy fire (and him complaining about how he always has to buy a new one after that).
Scooby-Doo Hoax: Most of the so called "gods", curses and magicians are a fraud. However, as the series proceeded, many "real" sorcerors appeared, from both sides.
Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Tex doesn't care about rules as long as he can bring criminals to justice. His brash attitude often brings him into conflict with various stiff officers, sheriffs etc.
The Sheriff: Plenty of them, ranging from corrupted to law-abiding ones.
Sinister Scimitar: Chinese sects sometimes have them in their lairs. Also the Head Hunter wields one.
Squishy Wizard: Mefisto and Yama have immense mystical powers and two weaknesses: they can't conjure anything solid (thus depending on more mundane means to actually kill Tex and his pards) and are killable as any human. Also, being both quite lean (and Mefisto being an old man), they are relatively weak in hand to hand, something they tend to avoid.
Also, Padma: just like Mefisto and Yama he's killable as any human and very lean, and can't conjure anything solid. He compensates with some mystic force that saved him when Mefisto hit him in the head with a brazier and immense powers, more than adequate to conjure illusions that drove Mefisto mad and are implied to be able to kill (during a talk with that mystic force he asked for permission to do just that to neutralize Mefisto, and was told to just drive him mad).
Stuff Blowing Up: Tex and pards make a rather liberal use of dynamite, ranging from throwing one or two sticks at someone or something to causing explosions big and well-placed enough to destroy a reservoir and flood a mine (in all fairness, they only wanted to empty the reservoir so that the mine's pressured water jets would stop working, the flooding was a side effect caused by the reservoir being huge).
In one occasion Tex used dynamite to break a door. In all fairness it was an armoured security door they didn't have the key for... Still, Tex had to talk down Carson from using an excessive amount and remind him they wanted to break down the door, not blow everything to kingdom come.
Inverted in The Armored Train where Tex gathered a team in a mission on Mexico to rob the titular train transporting gold and guns to a rebel general.
The Unreveal: The alien (you read that right) from Moon Valley story is always seen with his head turned or with his profile heavily shadowed, and we see his eyes twice, but the reader never gets a good look at his face. He looks mostly human though, if not for the black, sponge-like skin.
Vain Sorceress: Many evil witches appears to be very beautiful. The most iconical example is the sorceress Mah-Shai from The Land of the Abyss story: Upon confronting the heroes she's revealed as a charming indian woman (to the point that Tex, Kit and Tiger are all mesmerized/surprised for a while), but after she dies, bitten by a snake, she shrivels and turns into an old hag.
Wacky Wayside Tribe: Ranging from primitive indians to aztecs descendace to Horny Vikings to a whole medieval colony founded by the descendants of Cortez' conquistadores trapped in a valley by indians.