Thursday, May 8, 2014


Comics have a relatively small assortment of cowboy superheroes to their credit – the original Ghost Rider, for instance, DC’s cowboy crooner The Vigilante, the modern-day Texas Twister and a dozen others at most across assorted companies. Although both the western and superhero genres prove themselves remarkably flexible in accommodating elements from other genres, and despite the volume both have racked up as genres in the last seventy-five years of comic books, crossovers have been rare.

Dennis Yee’s 1984 offering into the ranks of cowboy superheroes is worth a particular note, however, because as aborted a run as the character of The Canton Kid had – a single issue during the midst of the black-and-white comic boom of the mid-1980s – he had a lot of interesting and very unique angles going for him.

Talky in a way only comics in the 80's were.
The Canton Kid debuted in DC Comics’ New Talent Showcase No.15, and interesting comic in and of itself. While its namesake, the original Showcase run, had been focused on highlighting new properties intended to be exploited by the company as part of their ever-expanding franchise, New Talent Showcase focused more on creator-owned and creator-inspired stories intended to elevate the profile of the writers and artists themselves.

One of the few Asian-American superheroes in comics in general, the Canton Kid was very likely comidom’s ONLY Asian-American cowboy superhero, full-stop -a first generation American living in Texas, the Kid’s Cantonese-born immigrant parents were pressuring him to join the family enterprise (predictably enough, a restaurant) in Los Angeles with the hopes that he would follow up on his commitment to college and pursue a reasonable career in law or accounting. The Kid, however, was drawn to his life’s mission – crimefighting and do-goodery – in the podunk border town of Davila (sic), Texas.

Assisting the Canton Kid were his partners in the super-trio The Desperadoes; Vapor, a backwards-thinking redneck who could transform himself into a skull-headed being of cold mist and Cracklin’ Rose, another first-generation American (her parents hailed from Germany) with energy-based powers of some sort. The three youngsters gained their powers from magical gems given to them by ghosts representing “the three guises of the Thunderbird” – there’s not enough space to show this, but we gain this knowledge via exposition – and find themselves facing foes ranging from garden-variety bigots to a complicated military-industrial mind-control scheme.

The Desperadoes fail to make a second appearance, although it’s up in the air whether they had enough going for them to warrant an ongoing series of adventures. As a single character though, if just for the sake of uniqueness, The Canon Kid had a lot going for him.

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