SHERIFF BEN YARBY
Real Name: Ben Yarby
Identity/Class: Human (Old West Era)
Occupation: Sheriff of Leadville
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Black Rider (Matthew Masters), Jim Lathrop, Marie Lathrop, Maskins
Enemies: Spike Clumber, Avery Conde, Monty Creech, Ace Darby and his gang, Kirby, Paso Jack, Poison Polk and his gang (Henshaw), the Spider and his gang
Known Relatives: Pete Yarby (son)
Base of Operations: Leadville, Texas, USA (late 1800s)
First Appearance: Outlaw Kid I#2 (November, 1954)
Powers/Abilities: Sheriff Yarby was an able marksman who always carried a pistol sidearm.
Height: 5'10" (by approximation)
Weight: 160 lbs. (by approximation)
Hair: Black, turning silvery-grey
History: (Outlaw Kid I#2/3) - Sheriff Yarby and rancher Jim Lathrop were both exposed to poison by outlaw Poison Polk so that they wouldn't be able to identify him when he was brought into court for trial. Yarby went to Doc Masters for treatment to save his eyesight. As the Black Rider began capturing Polk's gang, Polk kidnapped Yarby and Lathrop and gave the two men guns then ducked low, hoping Yarby and Lathrop would shoot each other to death. However, the Black Rider burst into the room and shot Polk to death then brought Yarby and Lathrop home for continued treatment.
(Black Rider I#26) - When Doc Masters treated the injured Native man Red Fang, Ben brought a man to Masters who claimed Red Fang had killed his partner on the trail. Red Fang escaped Masters' office with the Black Rider and the accuser in pursuit. When the accuser died after a gunfight with the Black Rider, Ben arrived just in time to hear him confess that he had killed his own partner and pinned the crime on Red Fang.
(Western Tales of Black Rider I#28) - Ben Yarby's son Pete came down with an illness and was tended to by Doc Masters and Marie Lathrop. The only nearby supply of medicine was raided and stolen by Ace Darby. Holding Pete's life in his hands, Ace demanded Ben permit him to open a gambling den in Leadville. Ben agreed and refused to take action against Ace when the Black Rider tried to bring Ace and his men to justice. When Ace finally gave the medicine to Ben, he brought it to Doc Masters and confessed what he had done. Ben then went to Ace's den, determined to close him down even it cost him his life. Fortunately, the Black Rider followed after Ben and helped him capture the entire gang. Pete made a full recovery.
(Western Tales of Black Rider I#28/2) - When the notorious outlaw the Spider returned from seeming death, he raided the Fiesta prison, killing the jailer and releasing three of his men. Sheriff Yarby informed Doc Masters, who came with Yarby to Fiesta to examine the dead jailer that proved to bear the brand of the Spider on his chest. As they left the jail, the Spider and his gang came riding through Fiesta. While Doc Masters refused to fight, Yarby opened fire on the gang alongside the Fiesta lawmen, together killing the entire gang save the Spider himself. The Black Rider later fought the Spider resulting in the outlaw's death.
(Wild Western I#45/2) - Sheriff Yarby met with Doc Masters and expressed his concerns about Luke Halsey of the Four Aces, who was getting ranchers indebted to him then collecting payment by taking their land. Yarby suspected something illegal was going on but had no proof. The Black Rider later exposed Halsey as a crook and drove him out of Leadville.
(Western Tales of Black Rider I#29) - After a Wells Fargo shipment was robbed, Sheriff Yarby was confronted by Avery Conde, an irate Wells Fargo representative. The Black Rider joined the conversation and offered to catch the robbers for Yarby. The thieves turned out to be working for Conde and when the Black Rider cornered the thieves, he summoned Sheriff Yarby to arrest them.
(Western Tales of Black Rider I#29/2) - When the notorious outlaw Monty Creech staggered into Leadville, Sheriff Yarby cleared the streets expecting trouble but Creech proved to be in a trance-like state, having been drugged by his enemies. Yarby arrested Creech.
(Western Tales of Black Rider I#30/4) - After the Black Rider caught Crusher Cable rustling cattle, he captured Crusher's gang and brought them to Sheriff Yarby in Leadville to be jailed.
(Western Tales of Black Rider I#31/2) - After Doc Masters' patient Burt Wyatt died, Sheriff Yarby had to revoke Masters' license to practice medicine. However, Masters later proved Cameron had poisoned Wyatt to ruin Masters' reputation.
(Western Tales of Black Rider I#31/4) - The Black Rider brought a group of bank robbers to Sheriff Yarby but their leader evaded him. Sheriff Yarby summoned Doc Masters to the jail to examine his prisoner Paso Jack. Masters realized Paso had been wounded by the Black Rider the previous night. Masters left and returned as the Black Rider then led Sheriff Yarby to Paso's cell. They found Paso was missing, as he had made a secret tunnel to lead the bank robbery the previous night then return to his cell without being missed. Venturing into the tunnel, Sheriff Yarby and the Black Rider caught Paso Jack.
(Wild Western I#50/3) - Spike Clumber and his partner Kirby spread a dust in Cyclone Canyon which would be caught in the wind and irritate people's eyes. When a windstorm ran through Cyclone Canyon, it carried the dust into Leadville, rendering Sheriff Yarby almost unable to see. Spike and Kirby were ready to rob the town bank but the Black Rider had learned of their plan and chased them into the jail, where Sheriff Yarby helped the Black Rider capture the crooks.
Comments: Created by an unknown writer and Syd Shores.
His full name is not mentioned until Western Tales of Black Rider I#28.
The first story in Black Rider I#14 is set in 1871, suggesting that all of his adventures were set around the early 1870s.
Yarby wasn't always identified by name when he appeared and there other men acting as sheriff (such as Sheriff Ben Dexter, Sheriff Elkins, Sheriff Hickey, Sheriff Jeff Kirby & unidentified sheriffs#1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. --Proto-Man) in other Black Rider stories (sometimes multiple in the same issue), so I've included sub-profiles for the other Leadville sheriffs. There was also an election for sheriff in Western Winners I#5/2 but the candidate, Homer Waller, was killed before the election and the final results weren't depicted.
There was not particularly strong continuity between Black Rider stories so I've arranged these first in chronological order of publication, then alphabetically by title (some months the Black Rider appeared in as many as four different comics!).
Profile by Prime Eternal.
Ben Yarby should not be confused with:
Ben Dexter was one of Sheriff Yarby's predecessors. Sheriff Ben Dexter celebrated as Leadville River was diverted to increase water to the ranch lands. When Simon Cantrell was buying up land around Leadville for the railroad, Ben shared his concerns with Doc Masters, informing him Cantrell was working with Luke Hanna and Mule Larkin, two gunslingers. Ben later helped prepare the Leadville town carnival for charity. When the Black Rider performed tricks for the crowd, Ben introduced him and held up a playing card for the Black Rider to shoot, noting that if the Rider missed, the town would need a new sheriff; the trick shot worked safely. The sheriff later put up wanted posters for Tom Ransome in Leadville. Just then, a wounded man of the Nagali tribe came into town and revealed Ransome and his gang were holed up in the tribe's mountain home. The Black Rider accompanied the sheriff and his men as they rode up into the mountains but Ransome's men opened fire on them and the sheriff was shot in his left arm. The sheriff and his men rode back to Leadville where Doc Masters tended his injury. Unable to continue the fight against Ransome himself, the sheriff cabled messages to other towns asking their lawmen to help him but the Black Rider ultimately bested Ransome on his own, just as the sheriff was leading his reinforcements to the mountains.
After the Black Rider fought and killed Whip, Ward and his underlings, the sheriff watched him ride away, admiring his heroism. The sheriff later came to the Lathrop ranch looking for Lanny Kimball, a stage robber who had lost an arm and was now convalescing at the ranch. The Lathrops refused to turn over Kimball, who ultimately turned over a new leaf and helped the Black Rider capture his former allies. When the supposedly-dead outlaw Bull Bragg turned up alive, Ben told Doc Masters about his revival, not realizing Masters was himself responsible for saving the near-dead Bragg's life. Ben was later brought into conflict with Nick Pace and his gang of rustlers but found it hard to act against the gang when his own son Dan Dexter proved to be part of Pace's gang. Ben was prepared to turn in his badge rather than arrest his son. The Black Rider helped convince Dan to turn on Pace and help defeat the gang. Sheriff Dexter then welcomed Dan as his new deputy. The sheriff later received a member of Skinner's gang of robbers after the Black Rider caught one of them. When Skinner's gang returned to hold up a stagecoach, the sheriff told Doc Masters, who then caught the gang as the Black Rider.
--Wild Western I#9 (Black Rider I#9, #9/4, #13, Kid
Colt Outlaw I#34/3, Black Rider I#23/2, #25/4, #27/4, Gunsmoke Western
Sheriff Elkins was another predecessor to Ben Yarby in Leadville. Elkins threw in with a team of cattle rustlers and helped them conceal their thievery. When he found Doc Masters spying on him, Elkins and the rustlers pursued him and ran him over a cliff. Thinking Masters was dead, Elkins framed the Black Rider for his murder so that the Rider wouldn't be able to stop their rustling. However, as Masters was not dead and also the same man as the Black Rider, he brought an end to the rustling by putting in an appearance at court and identifying Sheriff Elkins as the man masterminding the rustling. Sheriff Elkins was arrested.
--Black Rider I#11/5
Sheriff Hickey was the lawman in Leadville when Flush Dawson opened a gambling house there. Hickey was opposed to Dawson's presence but Dawson adeptly noted that he had not broken the law. Hickey vowed he would shut Dawson down if he ran crooked games. As it transpired, the Black Rider shut down the gambling house and killed Dawson after exposing him as a cheat.
--Black Rider I#10/6
Jeff Kirby was yet another predecessor who served as Leadville's sheriff prior to Ben Yarby. When the Luke Catlin's gang robbed the Leadville bank, Jeff was shocked to see his son was one of the robbers. Unable to draw his weapons, Kirby let the robbers escape. An angry mob of townsfolk nearly killed Sheriff Kirby as the rocks they threw at him fractured his skull but Doc Masters saved his life and later, the Black Rider convinced Kirby's son to turn on Luke Catlin and help him capture the gang. Kirby's son vowed to his father that he would use his guns in the service of the law from then on.
Maskins was one of Sheriff Yarby's deputies. When Sheriff Yarby was temporarily blinded by Poison Polk, Maskins took over the sheriff's office and received members of Polk's gang whom the Black Rider captured.
--Outlaw Kid I#2/3, Western Tales of Black Rider I#28/2
This man was one of Sheriff Yarby's predecessors. When gold was discovered near Leadville, this sheriff was shot to death by Snake Bostwick's gang to help facilitate their takeover of the gold supply. The death of the sheriff resulted in Snake's ally Cole Cameron attempting to seize control of the town by establishing a town guard.
--All-Western Winners I#4
This somewhat portly sheriff was one of Ben Yarby's predecessors as lawman in Leadville. When Brush Bennett was rustling cattle, the sheriff came up with the idea of having the Lathrops prepare their cattle as bait so that he could catch them but instead Brush kidnapped Marie, leading to the Black Rider rescuing her. Later, when the people in Leadville were being frightened to death, the sheriff investigated but could not solve the case. The Black Rider ultimately found the deaths were caused by the Mad Messiah.
--Best Western I#59/3 (Two-Gun Kid I#12/3,
This unidentified sheriff was another of Ben Yarby's predecessors. He was sheriff at the time when Jake Osborn was murdered. The sheriff decided to auction off Osborn's land for $1,000 which was ultimately provided by Jim Lathrop.
--Rex Hart #6/3
This older gentleman was one of Sheriff Yarby's predecessors. The sheriff put up wanted posters for Tod Sultan in Leadville and chatted about the outlaw with Doc Masters. He later received word that the Fox (Belle Raven) was coming to rob Leadville's bank. Despite the extra security precautions he took, he still needed the Black Rider's assistance in stopping the gang. Some time after, the sheriff had to deal with the irate Senor Morales, who claimed to be a Mexican immigration official and outraged by the smuggling of Mexicans into Texas. Morales turned out to be the mastermind of the smuggling operation, as the Black Rider revealed. The sheriff later conferred with the Black Rider after he recovered gold, which had been stolen by the outlaw Parrish.
--Two-Gun Kid I#9/3 (Black Rider I#9/2, #9/6, Black Rider II#1/4,
This unidentified sheriff was another predecessor to Ben Yarby as lawman of Leadville. When Shag Enoch was being held in the Leadville jail, the sheriff brought him a pitcher of water but, as he handed it through the bars, Enoch grabbed the sheriff around the throat and throttled him to death then stole his keys so that he and his ally Jess Cantrell could escape the jail.
--Black Rider I#21/4
Pete was Ben Yarby's redheaded son. After falling ill with an unidentified illness, Pete was tended to by Doc Matthew Masters and Marie Lathrop. The medicine needed to save his life was stolen by Ace Darby so that he could force Ben to comply with his demands for a gambling house in Leadville. After Ben finally obtained the medicine, he brought it to Doc Masters so that he could save Pete. Pete made a full recovery.
--Western Tales of Black Rider #28
images: (without ads)
Western Tales of Black Rider I#28, p5, pan3 (Sheriff Ben Yarby, main)
Western Tales of Black Rider I#28, p3, pan7 (Sheriff Ben Yarby, headshot)
Black Rider I#27/4, p4, pan4 (Sheriff Ben Dexter)
Black Rider I#11/5, p5, pan9 (Sheriff Elkins)
Black Rider I#24, p2, pan2 (Sheriff Jeff Kirby)
Outlaw Kid I#2/3, p3, pan1 (Maskins)
All-Western Winners I#4, p2, p5 (unidentified sheriff#1)
Best Western I#59/3, p3, pan4 (unidentified sheriff#2)
Rex Hart I#6/3, p2, pan3 (unidentified sheriff#3)
Black Rider I#9/2, p4, pan5 (unidentified sheriff#4)
Black Rider I#21/4, p2, pan4 (unidentified sheriff#5)
Western Tales of Black Rider I#28, p6, pan7 (Pete Yarby)
Outlaw Kid I#2/3 (November, 1954) - unknown writer, Syd Shores (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Black Rider I#26 (January, 1955) - unknown writer, Syd Shores (pencils), Christopher Rule (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Western Tales of Black Rider #28/1-2 (May, 1955) - unknown writer, Syd Shores (pencils), Christopher Rule (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Wild Western #45/2 (September, 1955) - unknown writer, Syd Shores (pencils), George Klein (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Western Tales of Black Rider #29/1-2 (July, 1955) - unknown writer, Syd Shores (pencils), Christopher Rule (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Western Tales of Black Rider #30/4 (September, 1955) - unknown writer, unknown pencils, Christopher Rule (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Western Tales of Black Rider #31/2, 4 (November, 1955) - unknown writer, Syd Shores (pencils), Christopher Rule (inks, 1st story), George Klein (inks, 2nd story), Stan Lee (editor)
Wild Western #50/3 (July, 1956) - unknown writer, Syd Shores (pencils), Christopher Rule (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
First posted: 03/25/2021
Last updated: 03/25/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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