Real Name: Gwen Saunders

Identity/Class: Human (Old West Era)

Occupation: Rancher

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Black Bob, Jim Heyward, Doc Mason

Enemies: Al, Sam Miles

Known Relatives: Sarah Saunders (mother, deceased), Mr. Saunders (father, deceased)

Aliases: "Spitfire"

Base of Operations: A ranch in Poconos County, Colorado, USA

First Appearance: Western Life Romances I#1 (December, 1949)

Powers/Abilities: Gwen was an excellent horse rider, her favorite mare being Nell. She was experienced in working with livestock and thus had an affinity for local politics.

Height: Unrevealed (approximately 5'8")
Weight: Unrevealed (approximately 129 lbs.)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black

(Western Life Romances I#1) - After the death of her mother, Gwen promised to look after her father as he ran his ranch in Poconos County. Her father was frequently in conflict with Sam Miles, whom he accused of underselling local ranchers while the local politicians looked the other way. Gwen's father hoped that in the coming election, a new government would finally take action against Miles. Unfortunately, he was far too liberal in speaking out against Miles and one day, a band of masked men invaded the Saunders ranch and shot Gwen's father to death. As the ranch was 20 miles from the nearest neighbor, Gwen was the only witness to her father's murder.

Gwen became all the more determined to strike back against Sam Miles, whom she was certain had sent the killers after her father. Gwen became a staunch supporter of Jim Heyward, whom she had known since childhood and was then running for mayor. Heyward promised that when he was elected, he would clean up Poconos County and deal with Miles. Jim also confessed to Gwen that he was in love with her but Gwen admitted she didn't feel the same way. Jim accepted how she felt and only asked that when she did find the right man and marry him, he would be the best man.

On the day before Election Day, Gwen was putting up posters for Jim Heyward when Miles himself confronted her. Gwen accused him of murdering her father but he answered that would be difficult to prove. When she announced her intent to see him executed, Miles merely burst out laughing.

Gwen was on the ranch on Election Day when she received a telephone call from Heyward informing her that the votes were evenly split between him and his rival. Gwen realized her vote would be the deciding one so got on her horse Nell to race in to town. Unfortunately, a rattlesnake crossed Nell's path and spooked the mare, who took off at a gallop. Suddenly, the masked man Black Bob rode up and calmed down Nell. It was only when Gwen started to thank Bob that she realized he was masked. Black Bob's band of outlaws soon pulled up and his subordinate Al began to question Bob's judgment, accusing him of going soft for aiding Gwen. Realizing Black Bob was the leader, Gwen tried to sway him to understand why it was important for her to vote in the election but Bob confessed to Gwen that he had been hired by Sam Miles to lead his outlaws in stealing all of the ballot boxes in town to prevent Jim Heyward's election. When Gwen questioned his integrity, Bob observed that if he didn't obey Miles he would be killed by Al and Al would likewise have no qualms about killing Gwen. Although Bob admitted he found Gwen pretty (calling her a "Spitfire"), she took his reluctance to act as evidence of cowardice.

Black Bob told his men they would keep Gwen as a hostage to collect a ransom and they grudgingly agreed but as they neared town, Bob suddenly released his hold on Nell's reins and told Gwen to ride for town, vote, then hide the ballot boxes before his men could stop her. When Gwen asked why he was helping her, he removed his mask and kissed her.

Heading into town, Gwen turned in her vote then told Heyward to hide the ballot boxes, explaining that Miles had hired men to steal them. Miles himself was in the room and drew a gun behind Heyward's back but Heyward fell to the floor, spun around and shot Miles to death. Outside, Black Bob came to defend the town from his own gang and fought alongside Heyward against the outlaws. During the fight, Bob was wounded. When the fighting was done, Heyward sent for Doc Mason to tend Bob's injury. Bob confessed he was the leader of the outlaws but Heyward, having observed how Gwen cared for him, ignored Bob's explanation and instead thanked him for stopping the outlaws, offering him a clean start in Poconos County. Bob and Gwen kissed each other.

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Russ Heath.

    The presence of a telephone in this story means it's unlikely to be set earlier than 1880 but beyond that, it's loose enough that it could be set in the early 1900s.

Profile by Prime Eternal.

Gwen Saunders should not be confused with:


Al was a member of the band of outlaws hired by Sam Miles to prevent the election of Jim Heyward in Poconos County by stealing all of the ballot boxes. Al frequently questioned and doubted Black Bob's leadership and was prepared to kill Bob at a moment's notice if he thought Bob wouldn't obey Sam Miles' instructions. Al possibly died in the gunfight against Black Bob and Jim Heyward.

--Western Life Romances I#1

Black Bob

Black Bob was a masked man; his real name was Bob (last name unrevealed). Black Bob had been framed for a crime in the past and so found himself forced into the life of an outlaw but he resented the life he had fallen into. Black Bob was one of the men hired by Sam Miles to interfere with the Poconos County mayoral election by stealing all of the ballot boxes. Among the gang Black Bob was hired to lead was Al, who frequently doubted Black Bob's intentions, fearing that he wouldn't go through with Miles' instructions. Black Bob helped calm down Gwen Saunders' horse Nell when she was frightened by a rattlesnake. Bob was taken by Gwen's beauty and pretended he was keeping her with his gang for ransom but then set her free near the town, telling her to hide the ballot boxes before his men knew what had happened, then removed his mask and kissed her. Once the ballot boxes were secure, Bob came to the voting place and drew his guns against his own gang, fighting alongside Jim Heyward. Bob was wounded in the firefight but Heyward sent Doc Mason to tend his injury, which proved to be minor. Bob confessed his identity and crimes to Heyward but Heyward had observed Gwen's affection for him and offered Bob a fresh start in Poconos County. Bob and Gwen kissed.

Black Bob carried two pistols.

--Western Life Romances I#1

Jim Heyward

Jim Heyward was the new candidate for mayor in Poconos County, Colorado. Jim had known Gwen since childhood and carried a torch for her but when he confessed his feelings, she admitted she did not feel the same way for him. Gallantly, Jim continued to support her and offered to be the best man at her wedding when she did meet the right man. Jim ultimately won the election by just one vote, the vote cast by Gwen. Sam Miles tried to kill him but Jim drew his gun, whirled to the floor and shot Miles first. Black Bob helped defend the voting place alongside Jim Heyward and when he was injured during the firefight, Heyward sent Doc Mason to tend his wound. Bob confessed his identity and crimes to Heyward but Heyward had observed how much Gwen cared for him and offered Bob a fresh start in Poconos County.

Jim carried a pistol.

--Western Life Romances I#1

Doc Mason

Doc Mason was the local physician in Poconos County, Colorado. When Black Bob was injured while defending Jim Heyward from his own gang, Mason tended Bob's wound but found it was a minor injury.

--Western Life Romances I#1

Sam Miles

Sam Miles was a corrupt rancher in Poconos County, Colorado who sought to control the cattle market by underselling his competition and working out deals with the government to prevent their interference. Mr. Saunders opposed Miles and tried to expose his crimes but Miles hired a gang of outlaws to murder Miles. When Jim Heyward ran for mayor and vowed to deal with Miles' corruption, Miles hired Black Bob and his outlaws to steal the ballot boxes. However, Bob was convinced to turn against his own gang after falling in love with Gwen and he informed her of the scheme. When Gwen informed Heyward of what Miles had done, Miles drew his gun on Heyward but Heyward fell to the floor and whirled around to shoot Miles with his own gun, killing him.

--Western Life Romances I#1


Nell was Gwen Saunders' mare and reliable transportation from her ranch to the nearby town. Nell was frightened by a rattlesnake while bringing Gwen to vote to Jim Heyward but Black Bob calmed down Nell.

--Western Life Romances I#1

Mr. Saunders

Mr. Saunders was a rancher in Poconos County, Colorado. He was Gwen's father. His wife Sarah died when Gwen was an adult. Mr. Saunders was infuriated by the corrupt dealings of his rival Sam Miles and supported efforts to elect a new local government who would take action against him. Because of Mr. Saunders' public condemnations of Miles, he became targeted by Miles for death. A gang of masked men were sent to the Saunders ranch and shot him to death. He died in Gwen's arms.

--Western Life Romances I#1

images: (without ads)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 7, panel 6 (Gwen, main)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 2, panel 5 (Gwen, face)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 5, panel 1 (Al)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 6, panel 2 (Black Bob)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 7, panel 4 (Bob unmasked)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 7, panel 2 (Heyward)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 8, panel 1 (Mason)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 3, panel 1 (Miles)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 4, panel 2 (Nell)
Western Life Romances I#1, page 1, panel 4 (Mr. Saunders)

Western Life Romances I#1 (December, 1949) - unidentified writer, Russ Heath (artist), Stan Lee (editor)

First posted: 02/14/2023
Last updated: 02/14/2023

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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