First Appearance: Matt Slade, Gunfighter #1 (May 1956).
Appearances: Matt Slade Gunfighter #1-4, Kid Slade Gunfighter #5-8, Kid Colt Outlaw #89, Mighty Marvel Western #25-42, 44-46, Western Gunfighters #10-15.
Years Active: 1870s.
Matt Slade, aka "Kid Slade," is a blond "crossdraw wizard;" that is, he draws across his body, rather than at his sides. A former outlaw and gunfighter, he was pardoned and became a "government undercover marshal," wandering the West with his horse Eagle, bringing criminals to justice. Most people (including outlaws) know him as "Kid Slade" or "Matt Slade," the infamous outlaw, and they fear him on that level. Some few, though, have heard rumors that he (in the words of one of his enemies) "was pardoned an' there's rumor you've been workin' with the law!"
As you might imagine, this gets him into some uncomfortable situations, especially when he's trying to carry off a deception to capture some criminals. Slade is not without mercy as an agent of the law; when he captures an aging gunfighter who is trying to make a new and better life for himself, as he does in one story, he helps the gunfighter get clemency from the state governor. Slade works for Governor Anson Clinton (sometimes).
Slade's origin, as such, goes like this:
As a young child Slade and his pa had a small piece of land that they were trying to improve "so's the government would deed it to us!" Unfortunately a "land-greedy cattleman" drove Slade and his father away, and they were forced to go on the road, looking for food. The angry Matt swore that he would grow up to be a gunfighter, so that "no one will kick us around," but his father insisted that they follow the way of peace. While on the road they encountered a gang who welcomed them and fed them. Naturally, when the gang went into town and offered to pay Slade and his father ten dollars to hold the horses while in town, the pair accepted, only to discover too late that the gang were bank robbers. The robbery went bad and the gang, along with Slade and his father, were forced to flee. When they reached safety Slade's father demanded the ten dollars and got hot lead in return.
Slade, saddened and angry, swore:
I swear, paw, I'll never let another man with a gun hurt me or kick me around, 'cause I'LL have a gun too! Someday I'll find that Po [the killer of Slade's father--Yr. Obd't Webmaster], an' pay him back!In Slade's words, "I wandered the frontier towns, getting work where I could! I bought a gun! I practiced every day, drawing, shooting..." Slade grew up, but over the course of several years acquired a foul reputation. Many crimes were attached to his name, all of them false, but sticking nonetheless, so that he was a notorious and wanted man wherever he went. Then, one day, during a gunfight, one of his bullets caused a lantern to break and catch fire, the hotel next to it going up in flames along with it. Inside the hotel was a young child. Slade instantly ran into the hotel and rescued the child, then rode away. Before he left, though, he was recognised as Matt Slade.
It turns out that the young girl Slade rescued was the daughter of Governor Anson Clinton. Clinton checked into Slade's record and discovered that the crimes assigned to Slade were false, and that Slade was innocent. Thus heartened, he pardoned Slade and offered him a job as a United States Marshal, which the flattered Slade accepted.
Note: I don't know why Matt Slade went from Matt Slade to Kid Slade. The stories themselves switch from calling him "Matt" to "the Kid." See the Sky-Wolves entry for information on Matt Slade's (possible) grandson.