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Quote1 I, Jim Gardley, hereby make a solemn vow to forever fight the lawless... Bring justice to the oppressed, and help the poor -- To this end, I, the Masked Raider, dedicate my life to this oath! Quote2
-- Masked Raider src
 
Jim Gardley (Earth-616) 002

Jim Gardley

Jim Gardley was a cattle rancher who lived in the town of Cactusville, California. In 1849, Gardley was being pressured into selling his land to wealthy rancher Cal Brunder. Seeing Jim's opposition as creating distention among other ranch owners, Brunder accused Gardley of cattle rustling. Jim was arrested by the easily bullied sheriff, but he soon broke out of jail and escaped into the desert. After raiding his own home, Jim spent next few weeks in the wilderness teaching himself how to shoot until he became an excellent marksman. He also befriended a beautiful white stallion and trained it. He named his horse Lightning and took on the identity of the Masked Raider, vowing to fight evil and lawlessness wherever he found it. He started in Cactusville, where he convinced the other ranchers to not give up their land. The Raider rounded up Brunder and all his men with the aid of the sheriff and the townspeople.[1] The Masked Raider abandoned his civilian identity, becoming a western legend in his own right.
Jim Gardley (Earth-616) 003

The Masked Raider to the rescue

In Rawhide Range, Nevada, the Masked Raider infiltrated Hook Tebbs's outlaw town near Prairie City in disguise and exposed its location to the local sheriff, shutting down its operations and recovering a years worth of stolen valuables.[2] In Bury-Me, Idaho, the Masked Raider came to prevent Mesa Springs land owner Jed Sirrah from tricking two brothers to sell their land, revealing to them that the land was rich in gold and oil.[3][4] In a similar caper in Gnaham, Utah, the Raider helped to prevent Zeb and Luke from having their gold stake claim stolen by a group of thugs.[5][4]

When sheriff Ben Wallis of Fade-Out, Arizona, was struggling to solve a series of arrow murders, the Masked Raider helped him to expose the killer as a man hired by Grimsey, the leading competitor for the position of sheriff in town.[6] In El Pinos, New Mexico, the Masked Raider assisted Peter Williams in purchasing back his Bar W Ranch from Sam Marvin. In the end, the Raider learned that Marvin was using it to smuggle stolen cattle into Mexico, leading to Marvin's arrest.[7]

Jim Gardley (Earth-616) 001

Masked Raider

The Masked Raider was next framed for attacking Nat Parker and his son outside of Bar Ville, Oklahoma. Innocent of the crime, the Raider busted out of jail and revealed that the sheriff of Bar Ville was responsible for trying to drive Parker from his Bar Y Ranch. It was again a plot by a greedy man to steal mineral rich property from a land owner ignorant of his property's true worth.[8] In Rio Cacques, Kansas, the Masked Raider worked with Mexican Pete in exposing a staged bank robbery as a cover to protect the bank president of being caught in his own embezzlement scheme.[9] Going to Lawson City, Nebraska, the Raider with the help of Mexican Pete tricked Shep Mason into stealing fake gold in order to prove he was responsible for a series of gold robberies.[10]

Operating alone again, the Masked Raider came across the mortally wounded tax collector named Jonathan Gregg. Gregg told him a crook stole his credentials in order to steal the tax money he was going to collect in Two Forks, Wyoming. Although framed for the murder, the Raider kidnapped the sheriff Dan Durall's daughter Sally to convince the sheriff to help him in tricking the thief into a confession. Sally overheard that confession and testified for Masked Raider, clearing his name.[11] Later in Pijon Pass, Colorado, the Raider exposed the thief who was responsible for a string of thefts by posing as an elderly female egg farmer.[11]

In his last recorded adventure, the Masked Raider stumbled upon a plot by a group of men seeking to secede the state of Texas from the union in the town of Rocky Creek. Getting the jump on their leader Grey Gidden, the Raider sent Lightning with Gidden as prisoner to the local military base where the U.S. Army officers trusted the Raider enough to let him play out his plan. The Raider tricked the secessionists into stealing barrels of fertilizer and left a trail for the soldiers to follow and capture the gang.

The Raider continued to operate across old west at least till 1870s, becoming a gunfighter of near-legendary status. His fate remains unrevealed.

Legacy

The Masked Raider's horse Lightning lived on well into its forties and in 1880 came to be ridden by Ideal Gardley Oritz, a woman who is suspected of being the daughter of the Masked Raider, until it suddenly departed year later answering some unheard call. Later in the century several men formed a secret society inspired by the Masked Raider to carry on his quest to fight the lawless and bring justice to the oppressed and help the poor.[4][12]

Abilities

The Masked Raider was a remarkably good brawler, gunfighter, horseman, and a strategist. He was also skilled in using disguises and in his detective work. The Raider was uncannily charismatic person, easily earning the trust of strangers.[4]



Equipment

He wore a black mask that covered his entire head.

Transportation

The Masked Raider rode a white horse named Lightning.

Weapons

He carried two six-shooter pistols which he was deadly accurate with.

Facts such as dates, geographical locations and full names of characters who appeared in the Masked Raider stories were gleaned from Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #14.

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