I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
I actually read, updated and reviewed this seventy issue run of Jonah Hex (Vol 2) back in December, but over the weekend someone asked me about the blog post because they couldn't find it. I realized then that I didn't do one!
So let's fix that little oversight now with a HEAPIN' helping of DC's Weird Western bounty hunter!
JONAH HEX (VOL. 2 DC)
The thing I like about this series is that the majority of the stories are "one and done". This first issue sets that pace and is an extremely quick and enjoyable read. This short tale of Hex tracking down a kidnapped child is a perfect introduction, with great art by Ross. His backgrounds are a bit sparse, but the characters are detailed. Of particular note is the 4 page opening vignette and the cover by Quitely. . .crustiest Jonah Hex ever!
A dying priest, a golden crucifix, and a daughter out for revenge form the backbone of this short meditation on the greed of man. A pretty good story with great art. Alma is a bit of a "Mary Sue", though, who goes from grieving daughter to knife-wielding murder machine quick.
Guest starring Bat Lash, this issue has some very welcome comedy to it. . .from Bat calling the sheriff Dorothy to his amazement that Jonah Hex actually has friends. It's a pretty simple team-up between the two men out to get justice for Apache being falsely accused of attacking wagon trains and raping women, but it's a great read.
This issue was pretty so-so. It's a perfectly serviceable story of Hex bringing in a bounty only to find out he was innocent all along, but it just doesn't have the zing it tries to have, even with the revelation of the true culprit. The art by Ross is still great, and the story has some good moments, but not the best of the bunch so far. . .
This is the first issue where they swap out the "regular' artist. Unlike earlier issues, the art is dark and scratchy. . .backgrounds and environments are nice, but faces aren't great. The story itself is a simple one and done where Hex is holed up in a train station waiting for Texas Rangers to come and collect his bounty while fending off two other groups who want him: The bounty's friends and a group who wants to string him up for his crimes without a trial. This issue is long on action and short on story, in other words.
Not bad but not great either. The high point is the extremely creepy and photorealistic Tim Bradstreet cover.
Nuns with guns! Hex finds a town ruled by nuns, but things aren't what they seem to be. After an old friend is killed and Hex almost joins her, he goes on a one-man rampage of revenge and justice in the middle of an indian attack!. A decent story with good art by Ross. . .I like his detailed characters, but the backgrounds are a bit sparse.
Hex is witness to a wedding massacre and decides to hunt down the spurned lover behind it. It all ends in bloodshed and misery, just like most things in Hex's life. Some great action scenes, but not much story to be had in this one. . .
A very good story about someone using Hex to protect him from the rightful punishment for his crimes. . .the exact wrong thing to do once Hex discovers the truth. The art in this issue has a more cartoony style than usual that I didn't really like, but it wasn't terrible, I just like a darker art style for Jonah Hex.
In the course of a gun battle, an innocent girl is killed. Over the course of 4 years, the death haunts Hex and the girl's mother, who tries to kill him several times. Hex finally finds a way to let her go on with her life. A very nice tale. The dark and scratchy artwork is okay, but the faces aren't great.
The black and white cover is a bit strange because I thought I had a sketch variant, but I guess that's just the way it's supposed to be.
Jonah Hex finds his way down to the Louisiana swamps where he takes on a dying man's last request for revenge against the inbred family that killed him and his baby and took his wife prisoner. Not the best tale, but interesting to see Hex off the dusty plains. As for the art. . .I generally like Phil Noto, but he's not the artist for Jonah Hex (in my humble opinion). That said, the cover is great!
Guest starring one of my favorite western characters, El Diablo! Jonah and El Diablo find themselves working together, up to a point where the lines blur between justice and revenge. A direct sequel to the very first issue (these stories hop around in time) and what I think is the best issue of this series yet. The art is PERFECT for this weird western tale.
A so-so tale of Hex taking the side of a band of persecuted Mormons against a greedy shopkeeper and his colorful group of killers. The art is decent, but for once I'd say the one and done format wastes the potential of the villain and his mercenary gang. I'd like to know more about them. . .
About a year in and it looks like they decided the one and done format wasn't going to cut it for every story, so they gave us the first 3 parter. . .the origin of Jonah Hex! All in all, not too bad to start with. The first chapter deals with Jonah's time in the Confederate army and his capture and torture by a sadistic Union officer. It's pretty much setup for a decades-long trail of revenge on the officer and his men. Not bad. . .not great, either.
The art is a bit cartoony, but the inking style gives it an extremely kinetic flair. I don't love it, but it's not bad.
The second part of Jonah Hex's origin story deals with his early life with a drunken, abusive father who never wanted him, who traded him into slavery to a band of Apache. Hex fights his way into acceptance by the tribe, but his love for White Fawn puts him at odds with the chief's son, who betrays him and leaves him for dead.
This chapter was quite a bit better than the first part of the story, and gave me a bit of sympathy for the cruel, hard man Jonah becomes. I still can't decide if I like the art style, but it's not terrible, and lends itself better to this chapter than it did the first.
So the end of Hex's retold origin story tied everything up neatly. . .his return to the tribe that raise him to fight for his lost honor, his second betrayal by the chief's son, and the explanation of how he got the horrific scar on his face. He also gets his long-delayed revenge against Colonel Ackerman in a flood of blood and bullets. Not quite as good as the middle chapter, but better than the first.
Another multi-part story, this one introduces what will eventually become the female counterpart to Jonah Hex, physically and mentally scarred, Tallulah Black sets out to find Hex so that she can take revenge on the men who made her the way she is. This was a great origin story, and one of the better issues of this series so far.
I didn't really like Noto's art previously, but this time around it has a more painted look to it that I like better. Some of the art looks strangely unfinished, but all in all it's pretty good.
The conclusion of Tallulah Black's origin story is a great read as she finally gets her revenge on the man who scarred her face and soul. Noto's art was also a lot better in this one and I especially liked the title page with Tallulah in full gunfighter gear. The cover was great as well. I really like the Tallulah Black character as a female mirror image of Jonah Hex.
Probably the worst issue of this series so far. It all starts when a strange woman runs into Hex's camp begging for help. It ends up that nothing is what it seems and innocent lives are lost at Hex's hand. The art in this issue is mainstream comic crap. This issue screams "filler".
A fairly decent issue following two narratives. The first is Hex taking a job to find a wealthy casino owner's missing nephews. The second is that of a murderous madam killing and robbing drifters. The two stories come together when Hex also takes the job of finding the serial killer. This issue was better than the last, but nothing special.
The art by Noto is getting better than his earlier efforts on this series. I'm not very familiar with Noto except with this series and Star Wars Poe dameron, but I can see a bit of evolution from here to there going from worse to better. All in all, an average issue.
It looks like the writers are starting to move toward a bit of world-building with this issue, using Chako (the talkative comic-relief Mexican) from issue 4 and Mr. Park and his associates from issue 19 in a not-quite 2 parter where the events tie into those from the previous issue and force Hex to tie up some loose ends. . .with dynamite. Not a bad issue, but not the best either. There's quite a bit of humor in this story, which is a welcome change from the usual grim world of Jonah Hex.
I found out that I did NOT have the full run of this series like I thought. This issue was missing for some reason. The thing is that I remember having it because of the cover. Not sure what happened.
This issue was pretty unusual, delving into the edges of the steampunk world that was more fully shown in the New 52 All Star Western (also starring Jonah Hex) and co-starring none other than Thomas Edison as Hex takes a bounty to find a mechanical man. There's a bit of action to this issue, but most of it revolves around conversation about the future and the death of the world that Jonah Hex knows. Like I said, it's a bit unusual, but a strangely-welcome break from the usual Hex tales.
This story wants to be better than it is. All in all, it's pretty average. Told from the perspective of a meek teacher who was part of a group sent by a Chicago Newspaper to photograph the wild west that hired Hex as a guide. Everything goes wrong after an indian attack and an appearance by calvary lead by a sadistic officer (there hasn't been an army officer yet in 23 issues that HASN'T been a sadistic bastard). It all ends in a lesson in common sense and frontier justice for the teacher. The art feels rushed and lacking in this one. The artist did a better job in previous issues.
A Halloween special guest starring Bat Lash and El Diablo! Er. . .published in December for some reason? But never mind that. This was a great issue, even with it's fairly simple story of a Prairie Witch taking Lazarus Lane (El Diablo's human host) prisoner, forcing El Diablo to take possesion of Jonah Hex to rescue him.
I love El Diablo. . .he's like a cross between Ghost Rider and Zorro! I wish David Beck was the regular artist on this series. This issue is in the top 5 of this series so far. Not perfect, but still great.
For the 25th issue in this series, the story jumps forward in time to just a few years before Hex's death in 1904 when he's travelling through Mexico and an encounter with some banditos leads to him meeting the son he never knew, Jason Hex. It's a great little story about how sometimes it's better NOT to know where you come from. The art is great, with an almost Timothy Truman look to it. . .cartoony, yet extremely detailed. I really liked this one.
Despite some clunkers, this first chunk of Jonah Hex was REALLY good. I liked the fact that 90% of the issues were "one and done" but still loosely connected, with a small handful of multi-issue stories (the longest being 3 issues long). I also liked the way the writer skipped around in time, telling stories ranging from the beginning (issues 13-15 the Origin of Jonah Hex) to the end (Issue 25, set in 1904) of Hex's story.
That said, some of the issues felt rushed and somewhat forced to fit into the "one shot" storytelling mode of this series, and some of the rotating roster of artists weren't great, so even though this is a good start, it's not all good.
Up Next. . .
More Jonah Hex! Be there or be square!
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