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Willer, Tex. Tex Willer was created by the Italian creator Gianluigi Bonelli (Furio Almirante, Giorgio Landi, John Mauri, Claudio Reni, Sandro, Marco Villa, Yorga) and appeared in the comic strip “Tex Willer” (1948-present). “Tex Willer” is the greatest of the Italian comic strips.

The tall and lean Tex Willer is a cowboy adventurer known and feared by criminals across the western frontier of America. He begins as a Wanted Man, an unwilling outlaw, forced to wander from place to place, where he cannot resist helping innocent men and women, even though it brings attention to him. After a time he clears his name and joins the Texas Rangers. He marries the beautiful Lilyth and becomes the chief of the Navajo Indians and ruler of the Navajo Reservation. As a Ranger his missions take him across the United States, from Boston to San Francisco's Chinatown to the hell that is Texas. Willer even goes outside of the United States, venturing into Canada on a few occasions as well as into Mexico, where he discovers a group of Lost Race Mayans in the Yucatan Peninsula. Willer is often helped on his adventures by his friends, Kit Carson, Willer’s son Kit Willer, and the taciturn Navajo Tiger Jack.

Willer has a colorful set of enemies. Willer’s archenemy is Mefisto, who begins as Steve Dickart, a stage magician and illusionist with some hypnotic ability, but who is eventually taught real Superhuman magical powers by the Tibetan monk Padma, and thus becomes quite powerful. Over the years Mefisto allies himself with the wicked Hualpai tribe and with various voodoo worshipers, but he never is able to beat Willer. In the end Mefisto dies in the ruins of his castle in Arizona, but before he does he sends his powers to his son Blacky, who takes on the name “Yama” and devotes himself to hounding Willer.

Willer also fights Proteus, an armed robber who has a mastery of disguise second to none; Paco Ordoñez, a.k.a. El Muerto, a crack shot whose two brothers were killed by Willer and whose face is disfigured thanks to Willer, and who consequently hates Willer with a passion; Sumankan, a prince from Mali who lost his wealth and empire thanks to the actions of white men and comes to America, renames himself “el Tigre Nera,” and tries to unite the Chinese, blacks, and corrupt/venal whites of the United States into a fighting force to overthrow the American government; and Andrew Liddell, also known as the Master. The Master is a Mad Scientist who tries to blackmail San Francisco (he has a poisonous formula which he threatens to pour into the city’s reservoir) and who attempts to use his army of voodoo worshipers to loot New Orleans.

* I'm including the Tex Willer comic strips in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are great examples of comics art. Gianluigi Bonelli was one of the Italian masters of comics in the 20th century, and the Tex Willer comics are generally thought of as his best work. Readers will appreciate the worldbuilding that Bonelli puts into the Willer stories, the accumulation of a quite memorable Rogues Gallery, the attitude toward Indigenous Americans in the strip, and the plotting, but what is truly superior about "Tex Willer" is its art, which is simply the best art for a Western comic strip or book that ever was or ever will be. Highly recommended. 

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