"The Hoard of Midas Moran"
Danger Comics #12
Super Comics, 1964
by Chris Sims
Before we get started, I’d like to take a moment to assure you that while this week’s “Queer Eye on Comics” involves a Western story, you have my word as a mildly beloved Internet humorist that I won’t make a single Brokeback Mountain joke. That, my friends, is for lesser men. Now then, on with the funny!
A few years ago, I dropped out of college in order to spend more time with my Playstation, a decision motivated in no small part by my GPA-wrecking failure in an attempt to study linguistics. Even so, I realize that English is an ever-changing language, a process of constant linguistic evolution that causes words to occasionally develop entirely new and different meanings than the ones they had before.
Which is how we end up with something like The Gay Desperado.
Yes, thundering across the plains in a six-page story called “The Hoard of Midas Moran” that originally appeared in 1945 comes The Gay Desperado, who is referred to in boldface logo type as The Gay Desperado no fewer than four times in the introductory paragraph alone. And it’s pretty much all downhill from there.
Jim Collins is a wanted man, and not in the good way. Apparently, he’s “hunted by the law for other men’s crimes,” and seeks to prove his innocence by riding around in a pair of pastel chaps and a dashing neckerchief with a strapping young lad named Patsy while giggling a lot, the odd habit that gave him his nickname.
Unfortunately for Jim’s image as a two-fisted six-shootin’ western action hero, it also has the side-effect of making every single panel that follows read like an excerpt from a book on cowboy-related double entendres.
Our story begins with Jim and Patsy riding aimlessly towards Colorado when they stumble across a campsite left by their presumable nemesis Sheriff Nye, a fact that Jim’s able to learn just by looking at Nye’s campfire. That’s a pretty impressive feat of tracking, especially considering that he fails to notice he’s ridden right into the ambush of a local deputy, who ties up the Desperado quicker than you can say “William Moulton Marston,” securing his wrists behind his back so that he can, as the Desperado says, “ride me up to the posse.”
Four panels later, however, the deputy’s gasping for breath in the dust, and the Gay Desperado’s off on the trail of notorious prairie bank robber Midas Moran—or possibly Midas Morgan, depending on which page of the story you’re on—who made his escape with a load of gold. Because, you know, his name’s Midas, and comics in the sixties weren’t exactly known for their subtlety.
Of course, in order to get to Moran, they’ve got to dodge the posse trailing him, including a sheriff who assumes they’re in cahoots, a phrase which we really don’t see as often as we should these days. They make a break for it, and the Gay Desperado laughs his way through a hail of bullets along with his pint-size pal, picking up the trail once they reach Colorado.
Sadly, Jim Collins is apparently the worst tracker in the history of Western comics, and not only fails to realize that Moran himself has doubled back to shadow them, but also remains completely oblivious when Patsy gets lassoed, pulled off his horse, and hogtied while riding right next to him.
For those of you keeping score at home, this is the point where the bondage becomes a pattern.
Eventually, after a few miles of riding along, blissfully unaware of his solitude, the Gay Desperado realizes that Patsy’s not around, and doubles back to where he was abducted, making sure—and this is true—to note the style of footwear that the kidnapper was wearing. This minor detail, aside from revealing a lot about Midas Moran’s fashion sense, also apparently gives the Gay Desperado the exact location of his hideout, where he rides after narrowly avoiding the highly-ineffectual posse yet again.
By this point, we’ve only got a page left to go, and it’s pretty much your standard Western story—albeit one where a man called The Gay Desperado rides to a house on a soft pink hillside where a couple of guys keep taking turns tying each other up. Patsy slips out of his bonds and lights a fire to attract his attention, and—proving that everyone in the world of the Gay Desperado lacks any kind of fundamental observational skills—Jim manages to sneak up on Midas Moran despite the fact that he rides up to about three feet away from him. On a white horse. In broad daylight.
Midas goes for his gun, but is immediately struck by a falling sidekick as Patsy leaps from the roof, and that’s pretty much the end of that. Moran gets hogtied, thus completing the trifecta, and he leaves the loot for the posse to find along with a note explaining that this somehow proves Jim Collins is innocent before riding off into the night with his underage sidekick.
Innocent of what, we’re not sure, but I’m going to go ahead and wager that he’s heading West to a territory with more relaxed sodomy laws. So look out West Hollywood! Your canyons and high-class boutiques will soon echo with the thundering six-shooters and the spine-tingling chuckle of... The Gay Desperado!
Chris Sims is a former professional humorist who now works at a comic book store. He is a black belt in Cobra Kai style Karate, and is not afraid to sweep the leg, even at the risk of disqualification. Read Chris's Invincible Super-Blog at the-isb.blogspot.com.
All images and characters TM and © 1964 DC Comics. Review © 2006 Chris Sims
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