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Longbox Junk Halloween Jonah Hex (vol. 2) #24

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the blog stuffed FULL of comic reviews nobody ever asked for!
 
It's October.  Leaves on the ground and spirits all around! We're having a little Halloween fun here at Longbox Junk by taking a look at some of the spooky comics in my (and my daughter's collection).
 
This time out, we're taking a look at one of the more unusual issues of Jonah Hex and. . .
 
Wait?  What's that you say?  Jonah Hex is a WESTERN comic?
 
So it is, my friends.  So it is. 
 
BUT. . .
 
Like in the Hulk series I reviewed the first issue of just a few days ago Jonah Hex is a character that's USUALLY pretty straightforward, but sometimes his series heads into some strange territory.  This particular issue being a fine case in point.

What we have here is a Jonah Hex Halloween Special guest starring Bat Lash and El Diablo (that was published in DECEMBER, for some strange reason) fighting against demonic creatures and a Prairie Witch.  It doesn't just head into strange territory, it runs in with guns blazing!  Let's take a look. . .
 

JONAH HEX (vol. 2)

DC (2007)

ISSUE #24

 
 

ALL HALLOWS EVE

Script: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencils: David Michael Beck
Cover: David Michael Beck
 
Let's talk about the cover a moment before we get into the story.
 
It's. . .pretty good.  Nothing spectacular.  The cameos of Bat Lash and El Diablo look good, but Jonah Hex has a sort of goofy expression on his face.  The monochromatic tone doesn't really work great here either.  It just sort of mutes the whole cover down when it really calls for a sharp contrast between night sky, full moon, and fiery whip.
 
Plus I'm still wondering why a Halloween issue shipped in December. . .
 
The Story goes like this:
 
We begin in a bar where Bounty Hunter Jonah Hex and Gambler Bat Lash are betting on bare-knuckle fights.  After taking on a challenge from Lash, Hex easily beats the local champion.  A messenger brings Jonah a telegram and he immediately heads for the town of Coffin Creek with Bat Lash tagging along out of boredom.
 
 
 
Three weeks' ride later, Hex and Lash arrive in Coffin Creek.  The head to the local brothel to meet with the Madam, Crystal Ray, who is an old friend of Jonah's.  She is the one who sent the telegram.  She's called in a favor Hex owes her because there's a man in one of her rooms that nobody can get to leave.  Every person she's sent up to oust him has come back beaten.  The stranger has been asking specifically for Jonah Hex. . .
 
 
Inside the room is none other than El Diablo.  A hellbound living spirit of vengeance that Hex has encountered several times before.  His human host, Lazarus Lane, is nowhere to be seen.  Normally they aren't far apart.  Jonah demands to know where Lane is.  
 
El Diablo ignores him and wraps Hex in his fiery whip, telling the Bounty Hunter that the town of Coffin Creek is marked for death that very night and he has been imprisoned in that room and separated him from Lazarus Lane so he won't interfere with the town's fate.
 
As Hex struggles against El Diablo's whip, the spirit tells him that a Prairie Witch named Esmeralda lured Lane away from Diablo, and unless he is reunited with his human host within three hours, El Diablo will be forced to return to Hell and everyone in town (including Hex) will die.
 
 

When Jonah leaves the room, Bat Lash is terrified when he sees Hex's eyes are glowing and he speaks with the twisted voice of El Diablo. . .who has possessed the Bounty Hunter!  Hex/Diablo demands that Bat Lash follow him.

As Hex and Lash walk through town toward the saloon where Esmeralda waits, Bat Lash sees everything as normal, but the possessed Jonah Hex sees twisted demonic entities roaming the town.  Two of them try to stop Hex and Lash from entering the saloon, but Jonah guns them down using the supernatural power of El Diablo . . .revealing their true form to Bat Lash as they die.

 

Once inside the saloon, Hex and Lash find Lazarus Lane bound and gagged, hanging from the ceiling.  The saloon is filled with dozens of people possessed by demons, as well as the Prairie Witch Esmeralda herself.  The demons all begin to whisper the name of Jonah Hex when he enters.

The Witch orders her demons to attack.  While the possessed Jonah Hex is able to gun down the possessed townfolk using the power of El Diablo, Bat Lash's bullets have no effect.  Seeing this, Jonah cuts down Lane and orders Lash to get him back to the brothel. . .

 


While possessed Jonah Hex and Esmeralda fight it out in the bar, Bat Lash carries Lazarus Lane through town, but all hell has broken loose!  Townfolk and demonic creatures are fighting in the streets.  Back in the saloon, Esmeralda is getting the upper hand on Hex.  El Diablo's powers are much weaker without his proper human host. . .

 

Suddenly, just when the battle between Hex and Esmeralda seems lost, El Diablo appears in the saloon with a burst of flame. . .now reunited with Lazarus Lane and at full power.  He takes over the fight from Jonah Hex, now free of El Diablo, and quickly defeats the Prairie Witch by beheading her with his fiery whip.   With the witch dead, the demons leave the townfolk and things begin to return to normal. . .


The next morning, Jonah confronts Lazarus Lane. . .barely restraining himself from doing some damage to El Diablo's meek human host. Bat Lash is friendlier, and offers to play cards with Lane, but the tortured demonic host is ready to move on to El Diablo's next mission of vengeance. . .


The End.

Like I said. . .NOT your usual Jonah Hex story.

Jonah Hex is one of my favorite comic characters of all time. His stories always feel like they're right on the edge of horror, but this one discards any ambiguity and jumps into the supernatural with both feet for a guns blazin', demon killin' adventure!

I like El Diablo a lot. He's like a DC version of Ghost Rider combined with Zorro. He's a perfect fit for this Halloween story! Bat Lash is there to provide the reader with a more grounded viewpoint of a regular human thrown into supernatural shenanigans.

The combination of these three characters is one I'd REALLY like to see more of! The writers play their strengths and weaknesses off of each other for a strange, wonderful, little western horror/ buddy cop vibe that just works so well.

I really liked the art on this one as well. It has a realistic (almost photo realistic) look to it that contrasts perfectly with the more fantastic elements of the story. Unfortunately, the artist was never quite able to capture Jonah Hex's face very well, which isn't good in a Jonah Hex story.

Other than the artist struggling with the main character's face, the only thing I can really find wrong with this is that it seems a bit rushed and too short. I guess that's a result of most of Jonah Hex's stories basically being one shots, but I think maybe this one would have benefited from being one of his occasional multi-issue stories. . .especially given the odd nature of the tale and having two great guest characters sharing page space with Hex.

Overall, this story is a really fun departure from Jonah Hex's usual adventures. It has great dialogue, a nice dynamic between the trio of main characters, and some damn fine art (except for Jonah Hex's face). Because of the one shot nature of Jonah Hex's stories, this one seems rushed and needs a bit more room to breathe, but that's just a small complaint.

If you are a fan of horror comics, western comics, Jonah Hex, or any combination of the three, then pick this one up in the bargain bin if you spot it for an unusual little nugget of gunslingin' Halloween fun.

Up Next. . .

You guessed it. . .MORE Longbox Junk Halloween fun.

Be there or be square!

  • 5 weeks ago by edgos2's avatar edgos2
  • I need to find this issue! I'm listing it in the notes app in my phone and will search for it next Wednesday when I'm at my LCS. Thanks for another great review!
  • 5 weeks ago by Spector's avatar Spector
  • I have always liked the Hex character. This is the first I have seen of a Halloween issue, so thanks for putting it in the spotlight here.
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