First Appearance: Quick-Trigger Western #15 (December
Appearances: Quick-Trigger Western #15, Western Team-Up #1.
Years Active: 1870s.
There were two Dakota Kids. Or perhaps they were just one, revisited. (See my Note below.)
Originally, in Quick-Trigger Western, the Dakota Kid was Frank Yarrow, a hothead who enjoyed good-natured gunplay and genially terrorizing the inhabitants of "Dakota County" "almost a hundred years ago." Yarrow was not a bad man; in his own words, "I never killed anyone...I never robbed anyone...all I did was have a few harmless gun-fights, that's all!"
But one day he makes a wrong move and is surrounded in a local saloon by the sheriff of Dakota County and his deputies.Yarrow is captured and sent to jail, but for only 5 years, on account of his never having really hurt anyone. His first three years in prison are used by Yarrow to good purpose; he rethinks his life and vows "to be Frank Yarrow when I get out...not the Dakota Kid." After his third year is up he is given parole for good behaviour, but only if he swears "not to even wear a gun for the next two years!"
Yarrow agrees and goes back to Dakota County, only to find it full of "new faces...hard-bitten, gimlet-eyed faces...faces which belonged to shifty rannies who wore their gun-belts low!" Yarrow is approached by an old friend, who is leader of the Denbrow gang and who have come to Dakota County to plan a new heist; they offer to cut him in, but he declines, and when they get shirty with him, he slugs his old friend and walks away. The sheriff continues to suspect Yarrow, and tells Yarrow the only way he can persuade the sheriff that he's not behind the new crime in Dakota County is to become a deputy and help "ride down the outlaw gang."
Yarrow, conscious of the terms of his parole, declines. When the Denbrow gang tries to force Yarrow to accept the sheriff's offer so they can kill him and sack the town, Yarrow declines; they walk away vowing to kill the sheriff themselves, thus forcing Darrow's hand. Darrow slugs the leader, grabs his gun, and mows down the entire gang. The sheriff thanks him and in response to Yarrow's voiced worry that he'll go back to jail says, "well, you ring-tailed bob-cat, can't nobody complain if a DEPUTY shoots a gun in line of duty...can they?" The story ends with Yarrow becoming the deputy sheriff and, presumably, living happily ever after. The picture on the top is the younger Yarrow when he's being a hell-raiser.
Western Team-Up gave the Dakota Kid a new origin and a new outfit; the lower picture is of the Western Team-Up Dakota Kid.
Cliff Morgan is a teenage hot-head and shootist. He was already known as "the Dakota Kid" before the sad events which put him on the lam. Morgan encounters the Rawhide Kid when the Kid was on the run from a posse in the Dakotas. Morgan, being a hot-head and a shootist, tried to provoke the Rawhide Kid into a gunfight. The Kid declined, and Morgan instead invited the Kid to come work for his father, who was a major figure in that part of the Dakotas. The father, conscious of the Rawhide Kid's dire reputation, declined.
A twisted series of events followed in which Morgan's brother Wayde was killed and Morgan's father, who always preferred Wayde to Cliff, disowns Cliff. Cliff hunts down the men who killed Wayde, but when the story ends he is a fugitive, having gunned down two men in honest shootouts but having also broken out of jail rather than stand trial and be acquitted of the shootings.
The Dakota Kid is a good tracker and is very quick with his guns, letting at least one man pull his guns from his holsters and then drawing and shooting before the other man can get off a shot.
Note: I know, I know. I should count these as two different characters, since they really do have very little in common besides the name. But I really do think that establishing a continuity between the Atlas Westerns and the Silver Age Westerns is a good idea, and with all the possible names for cowboy heroes I think it slightly significant that the writers of Western Team-Up chose to use the name of a pre-established character. So until told otherwise (and, let's face it, there's precious little chance of that) I'm going to assume that the second Dakota Kid is simply a retconning of the first Dakota Kid.