Wednesday, February 24, 2016

THE UNCANNY X-MEN AT THE STATE FAIR OF TEXAS



For my money, not enough superhero comics take place at prominent state and county fairs throughout the United States. Who wouldn't want to see The Teen Titans Take In The Michigan State Fair, Spider-Man in Danger At The Putnam County Jubilee, and Lady Death: Blood Red Corndogs of Hell? I know I wouldn't, that's one, me, right here.

That's like Dress Barn but for horses.
However, there's always The Uncanny X-Men At The State Fair of Texas, a joint production of Marvel Comics and the Dallas Times Herald which possesses such a mouthful of a title that I could meet my word-count if I just cut-and-pasted it about five more times.  The Uncanny X-Men At The State Fair of Texas The Uncanny X-Men At The State Fair of Texas The Uncanny X-Men At The State Fair of Texas. See?

Marvel's uncanny mutants find themselves in the land of Big Tex and deep-fried brownie batter thanks to the desirable young prospective mutant super-character Daniel Wiley, aka "Eques," a horse-happy Dallas resident who also happens to have one of the most absurd mutant powers of all time. In moments of stress or intense concentration, he can transform himself into ... a winged centaur! Weirdly, this makes him the second superhero centaur in comics, that I know of. There might be more. This could be a sub-genre for all I'm aware.

Whatever the case, Magneto of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants Local 809 tries to recruit the kid/foal into his crew, because I guess if you've got a human Toad and a fat guy on your team, you're willing to settle.

The X-Men are also hot on Eques' well-groomed tail, seeking him out at the expansive fair where he's been working in the horse exhibit. This turns into a tour of the Fair, as you imagine it might from the example set allllll the way back in the two issues of World's Fair Comics produced by National Periodical in the late Thirties. That there's a precedent for this which dates back all the way to the origin of the genre is humbling. We've come so far and accomplished so little. Let's shut it down.

"Not counting all those guys with clock gears glued to their hats"
Colossus in particular, having been born and raised a product of Soviet Russia, is portrayed as constantly gawking around the fair. Everyone else is fairly blase about the Lena Horne concert, the replica pioneer homesteads and the State Fair's signature enormous mechanical homonculus Big Tex, but Colossus is walking around for the most part with his mouth agape. There's a pretty great scene where Professor X chastises Colossus for lingering at the auto exhibit, and then a few panels later has accompanied him to the Cotton Bowl. You get the feeling that he had hurt Colossus' feelings and was making it up to him by taking him to the game and buying him the largest sweatshirt in stock. I bet he ate like five corndogs.

The book ultimately descends into a pretty typical fight scene, with Eques changing sides to the good guys and retiring from superherodom in the space of like two panels. It's worth mentioning that Magneto is defeated because Big Tex kicked him in the butt. How did the X-Men pull that off? It's because Big Tex is secretly alive and hates evil, or possibly because he's a big fan of centaurs. It's genuinely hard to say, but the smizing rictus of Tex's face winking at the audience is the stuff of nightmares. That one panel alone might very well earn this book the accolade of being the most terrifying comic ever committed to paper.

Terrifying metal titans and deep-fried Coke! The Texas State Fair really does have it all!

"See you in hell!"

8 comments:

Jared Sorensen said...

Was Big Tex the first Sentinel?!

BillyWitchDoctor said...

That is a very disturbing mutant ability. Centaurs are weird enough as it is. Do they have two sets of internal organs in there, or is one part mostly devoid of them? Is the secondary rib cage of the horsey part like, all full of intestines? How does a centaur wipe after he...you know what, never mind. But to transform into one? Can you imagine that happening before your eyes?

I don't think it's a sub-genre; the only other superhero-comic centaur I know of--besides Speed Centaur, which is the one I guess you're referring to?--is Wild Huntsman, a bad guy who had a tussle with the Legion of Super-Heroes alongside frenemies who pointed out that having six limbs made hom an insect. But God help us, for a while it was the sort of flash-fetish that almost everyone on deviantArt feels they have to join in before the next one comes along. I've seen Kim Possible and Shego actually grow horses out of their butts. Neighbors called the police because they thought I was being murdered.

Count Otto Black said...

Hey, what about the Fantom of the World's Fair? Way back in 1939, he had the dubious distinction of being the first non-DC Superman knockoff sufficiently unlike Superman not to be instantly litigated into oblivion. Unfortunately, being named after the New York World's Fair, living in a secret laboratory underneath the New York World's Fair, and fighting crime connected with the New York World's Fair proved to be a poor long-term career choice, seeing as it only existed for two years. In late 1940, finding himself in the same position the Guardians of the Galaxy would be in if the galaxy was closed due to falling ticket sales (it could happen!), he struggled on briefly and pointlessly as Fantoman (possibly Fantomah's brother?) before fading into richly deserved obscurity.

Meanwhile, over at DC, there was New York World's Fair Comics, in which numerous superheroes found excuses to pay a visit. And why not? Only the brave deserve the fair! (Tee hee!) If memory serves, that comic featured the first ever superhero team-up. Not Superman and Batman, of course, but the not exactly A-list Sandman (not the god-of-dreams goth kid; the pervy-looking guy in the raincoat and gasmask) and the even less illustrious Crimson Avenger, whose sole claim to fame was appearing in Detective Comics before Batman, but failing so badly to capture the readers' imaginations that they had to invent Batman instead.

And of course, over in the real world, July 3 1940 was Superman Day, on which the actual Superman attended the World's Fair in person! Well, somebody wearing the costume did. Unfortunately he did not fight Electro the Moto-Man, a 7-foot-tall robot who could talk and smoke cigarettes. Though clearly he should have, because smoking is very bad for you!

Nate Fancher said...

Hey, Allendale SC has a Cooter Festival. I don't feel compelled to say another word.

Calamity Jon said...

I am super curious as to what they deep-fry there.

Unknown said...

You know, Comet was a centaur before being turned into a super-powered horse.

Calamity Jon said...

A fair point.

Corey said...

I had this comic as a kid--an insert in the Dallas Times Herald, where I worked while in college before the Herald was bought by competition and shut down.

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