Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Jonah Hex V2 #26 "Four Little Pigs: A Grindhouse Western"

Jonah Hex V2 #26 Feb '08
"Four Little Pigs: A Grindhouse Western"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Guiseppe Camuncoli - layouts, Stefano Landini- finishes, Camuncoli and Schwager - cover

Once Upon a Time, There Were Four Little Pigs

A woman stands outside her side barn, wearing a blood-covered butcher's apron, leaning against an axe, shading her eyes against the sun. Jonah rides up and asks if she has seen the man on the wanted poster Hex is holding up. He mentions that the man is riding with Lewis Himelhoch, Mike Hewison, and  Loy Turns. She says that she hasn't seen anyone in two months. Hex starts to leave and she offers him dinner, seeing as the ride into Holsten is a far piece and she hasn't had anyone to talk to that ain't crawling and squealing.

  Jonah inquires after her husband. She states her name is Holly and her husband ran off last spring. She asks if Jonah is a lawman and that is when Jonah notices three saddled horses in her corral.

  During dinner she quizzes Hex about his bounty hunting and speaks about the service Hex is doing, ridding the world of worthless men. Jonah is short on words and long on silence. Holly asks what Hex's god-given name is and he replies "Jonah is what my father named me."

  The liquor continues to flow long after dinner and Holly starts quoting Jonah 4:10-11. Jonah points out that she is drunk and if she leaves the Bible out of the discussion they'll get along fine. Jonah eventually passes out but Holly is still awake and...

 The Big Bad Wolf Dearly Loved to Eat Fat Little Piggies.

Later, under a full moon, Holly goes out to the barn to slop the 'pigs' and that is when we see four human tongues nailed to the inside wall of the barn and the 'pigs' she is slopping are four men, their tongues cut out, their arms cut off at the elbows and their legs cut off at the knees. They runt and squirm for the food as Holly grabs a whip and starts flailing the men. Suddenly Hex is in the doorway, telling Holly to drop the whip. She replies that it is not yet his turn when suddenly a shovel cracks the back of Jonah's skull.

 To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat Pig. Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig.

Jonah awakens to find himself trussed up in the dark barn and in the darkness he hears the other men stirring. He calls out the names of the men he has been hunting and they grunt their acknowledgment. Hex comments that they look terrible. The men wiggle over and start chewing their way through Hex's bonds. 

  In the house, Holly is speaking to Hannah about what to do with Hex. They head towards the barn, axes in hand. They find Hex gone and they take out their anger by whipping and kicking the four men.

 Birds of a Feather Flock Together, and So Will Pigs and Swine.

 Back in the house Holly and Hannah debate if Hex is still around. They decide since his horse is gone, Hex has gone to Holsten in order to bring the law back. They decide to 'clean out' the barn so there is no proof and they argue about Hex. Holly thinks he's a dumb man that deserves the fate they mete out because he has probably wronged many women. Hannah says that Holly shouldn't flaunt herself but they can't afford to get sloppy. Holly quotes Proverbs 23:7 "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." and she knows he'll be back for vengeance. Hannah heads out to get some firewood.

  After a bit Hannah doesn't come back and Holly goes out to check on her. She finds blood by the woodshed and as she examines it, Hex knocks her out with a pistol.

What to do with Her? Says That Pig. Kiss Her to Death, Says This Pig.

Dawn, and Holly and Hannah find themselves trussed up in the barn. Jonah sits in a rocking chair, axe in hand and lighting a smoke. Jonah notes all the tongues nailed to the wall and he starts to wonder as to why...

  Hannah starts in with...

Jonah speculates that the four men in the barn aren't the first ones to meet their fate at the hands of Holly and Hannah just as the four wiggle their way into the barn. Jonah notes that the men prefer that Jonah not use the axe on the two women. Jonah sits down as the four men wiggle towards the women and proceed to savage them with their teeth, chewing the women to pieces to the point of decapitating them.

 The men start begging for Jonah to shoot them but he refuses as he still has a job to do.

Give to a Pig When it Grunts and a Child When it Cries, and You'll Have a Fine Pig and a Bad Child.

Much later we see Jonah riding into Holsten leading two horses with the four men strapped atop them. The sheriff comes out and wonders at what Hex has done. Jonah explains that it wasn't him but the women outside of town. Jonah would have dispatched the men, but the warrant specifies them alive, not dead. The sheriff draws down on Hex and tells him to leave town. Jonah states that he will comply as soon as he is paid. 

The sheriff replies that he would rather shoot Hex than pay him and Hex punches him straight in the nose. Jonah explains that he will be paid or there will be one less lawman in town. Jonah gets his money and bids farewell to the four men.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - None, but he did help facilitate the deaths of Holly and Hannah
Running Total - 664 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 172 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Brained with a shovel.
Timeline - Given a day to ride to Holsten, I'll say two days..
Rape Percentage -  30% (8 out of 26)

Obviously influenced by Grindhouse, this is one of the more gruesome tales of Jonah Hex. It was a far far cry from the Hex penned by Michael Fleisher but oddly enough, it reminded me of Fleisher's work on The Spectre. The fate of Holly and Hannah was fitting and had a wonderful EC comics vibe to it. I loved the grittiness of the artwork and the colors, it really sold the book. I do believe that three of the butchered men were named after actual Jonah Hex fans, can't remember where I read that. (possibly on the Paperfilms forums)

My main gripe with the story had to do with a 'teaser' that Justin and Jimmy posted on their now-defunct Paperfilms Forum where they described the story as their 'sickest one yet' (if I remember correctly). Stating something is 'sick' strikes me as... I don't have a word for it. It reminds me of folks being proud in 'keeping Austin weird' or 'keeping Portland weird.' Weirdness (as well as sickest) isn't bestowed upon a person/place by the person/place itself, but by others. Self-proclaimed Weird isn't Weird at all, just sensationalistic advertising.

A secondary gripe is with Holly and Hannah, two devout Scripture quoting murderous women. That doesn't smack of lazy bigoted writing now, does it? But it does prod me once again to actually pen that Hex and Christianity piece that has been rolling around in the back of my head for a decade now.

Next Issue: Back East, an error in the timeline?, and Starman appears.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Jonah Hex V2 #25 "My Name is Nobody"

Jonah Hex V2 #25 Jan. '08
"My Name is Nobody"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Russ Heath - art, Garres - cover

Mexico, 1899

We are treated to excerpts from An Oral History on the Old West, co-written by Woodson Hex, private detective in the 1930's and 40's. During the recap of Jonah's life we see the aged bounty hunter setting up camp overlooking a desert valley. Off in the distance, dust clouds rise, driven skyward by several men on horses being chased by other mounted riders. Jonah figures it's bandits running from the local law so he takes cover so that he has a chance against the fifteen desperadoes. 

  As the bandits get closer, Jonah picks off one and the rest scatter. The bandits regroup, trying to decide how best to flank the unknown gunman up the rocks. Meanwhile, Jonah bides his time, hoping he can hold them off long enough for the rurales to show up. Jonah unloads his pack mule and lets it wander off into the mountains. He pulls out a photo of Mei Ling and a young boy, about the age of ten. 

  Jonah takes up a vantage point with his rifle. Soon enough, one fo the bandits tries to make a move and Jonah kills him. Drawing a bead with his rifle, he spots the backside of another bandit and Jonah manages to shoot the pistol in the man's holder. The bandit jumps from cover and.... thirteen left.

  The bandit leader shouts to Jonah to stop shooting his men. Jonah replies that it might be safer for them to turn themselves in. The Bandit asks Jonah's name to which Jonah replies with rifle fire. Five bandits suddenly rush Jonah and ..... nine left. That's when Jonah notices that they shot and killed his horse.

  The bandit leader tells Hex that they need his location to ambush the rurales. He asks Jonah's name again, announcing that HE is Jesus Escobar Ramirez. Jonah replies that he is Jonah Hex. The bandit's stare at each other and then decide Hex is lying. Everyone knows that Jonah Hex is dead. 

  They rush him once more, managing to hit him in the left shoulder but Jonah takes down three more of them....six left. Another quick attack and Jonah takes out two more, the rest coming at him with knives. Jonah smashes one in the head with a pistol and starts punching the crap out of him to boot. The others come up, about to shoot Jonah in the back of the head when a hail of bullets cut them down. Jonah kicks his combatant over the edge of a cliff.

  The rurales have arrived in time. A man leading them doesn't appear to be Mexican. The man says that Hex looks familiar, maybe they know each other? Jonah says that the man doesn't know him.

  Later that evening in a cantina the man offers to buy Hex a drink, asking his name. Jonah replies with  "Mister Albano".  Jonah says that he would like to drink alone. The man introduces himself as Jason Hex. He's a tracker, helping the locals. Jason says that the Mexicans ain't against folks of mixed blood as much as the folks up north. He is half Celestial on his mother's side and his father was a bounty hunter... and that's when Jonah attacks him. 

  They get into a knock-down drag out fight which ends with Hex on the floor and Jason holding a iron on him. Jason says he has no intention of killing Jonah, he only wants to talk. Jonah says they have nothing to talk about. Jason asks if Jonah wants to know about Mei Ling. Hex states he ain't the one that left and folks have a right to do as they like. Jason states that Mei Ling is dead and that not everyone dies from a bullet. Jason still wants to talk but Jonah has none of it.

  He says that what you see is what you get and that's the reason Mei Ling took Jason away. She didn't want Jason to know him and that's that. Jonah exits the cantina and meets a Mexican woman in the street, holding a baby. She tells Jonah, who is still drinking from a bottle, that the stuff will kill him. Jonah replies that he hopes it does.

  Jonah mounts up as the woman approaches Jason as he, too, exits the cantina. She asks who that ugly old man was. Jason takes the child from her arms and answers "That was nobody".

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - Eleven. The Banditos didn't fare well against Elder Hex.
Running Total - 664 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 172 V2)
Jonah's Injuries -Shot in the left shoulder.
Timeline - At most, one day and a night.

Rape Percentage -  32% (8 out of 25).

One the greater Hex tales because of so many things. Russ Heath is back and illustrating another tale of 'old' Hex, we meet Jason as an adult trying to reconcile a meeting with his absent father, Jason's quick appearance of Jason's wife and his son, a quick nod to Mr. Albano, the black borders, and a slight reference to Johnny Cash (Boy Named Sue lyric "and ya got the right" vs. Jonah's "Ya earned the right.").

We see so many people encounter Hex and die a quick death, friends that pass through and are forgotten. Any time we are treated to something that builds upon the Hex family tree or revisits a known character, I feel that we are getting a deeper glimpse into the agony, tragedy, and the tortured mind of our favorite bounty hunter. 

Next Issue: A heavy Tarantino influence and ya never wanna watch the sausage getting made.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Next DC film announced....

  Hot on the heals of the Spielberg directed Blackhawks movie, Warner Brothers announced today that the next hero to hit the big screen will be none other than Ambush Bug. Kevin Tsujihara was quoted at the press conference today "Warner Brothers loves and values all of the DC properties and it is our intention to expand the DCMU in new unexpected ways, exploring the vast possibilities offered by our wealth of characters. In no way do we plan on following the tired overworked formula that Marvel has set down of constantly doing multiple origin films with the hero battling a villain with the same powers as the hero."

  When asked how Warner Brothers would be handling the odd-ball character of Ambush Bug, Tsujihara replied, "Ambush Bug is unique in the DC universe in that he is a whimsical comical character that realizes he is in a comic book. Therefore, I'm proud to announce that Quentin Tarantino has signed on to direct the film and we are shooting for an NC-17 rating. It's about time that Warner Brothers broke through that barrier of only making 'kiddie comic book' movies." Tsujihara outlined the plot as Irwin Schwab learns how to teleport after being bitten by a radioactive space spider and faces off against Rad-Space-Spider Guy or something along those lines.

  Tarantino was all smiles fielding questions about casting saying that we was really looking forward to working with DeNiro (Argh! Yle!), T.J. Miller (Cheeks), Carrot Top (Go Go Chex),  Margo Robbie (Jonni DC) and Sacha Baron Cohen (Julius Schwartz). When quizzed about Johnny Depp possibly signing on to play Darkseid, Tarantino just smiled and said "We'll have to see what surprises I can cook up with Neveldine and Taylor. They knocked it out of the park on their last graphic novel screenplay and I'm sure we can expect more of the same again."

  When asked about his familiarity with the character, Tarantino responded, "I've been reading Ambush Bug comics ever since I was a little kid back in the 70's when he first appears in Challengers of the Doomed. I think I really have a handle on the dark sinister brooding that the character brought to the turbulent 70's and I'm really looking forward to updating that for today's audience. I mean, really, what is missing from movies today is a doped up, foul mouthed, gender confused vigilante and Ambush Bug is just the character to fill that void. The kid gloves are off once we get that NC-17 rating and I'm sure I can pepper the script with enough f---'s, n----'s, q-------'s and m-------------------------'s to get what we want."

  In a nod to the creator of Ambush Bug, Keith Giffen will be designing the movie poster which will feature an extreme closeup of the title character with huge blocks of black so nobody can tell what it is. Matching Dragoons managed to get an early peek at the poster.

  Ambush Bug is slated for a February 2019 release.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Weird Western Tales #46 "The Savage Streets"

Weird Western Tales #46 May/June 1978

"The Savage Streets"
Gerry Conway, story - Dick Ayers & George Evans, art - Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, cover

March, 1862. St. Louis, Mo.

We see Scalphunter climbing up the outside of a building, knife wielded between his teeth. Two days have passed since last issue and he has finally made his way back here searching for Bat Lash. Scalphunter makes his way, via rooftop, to the warehouse of Cyrus Calhoun. He overtakes the guards, killing both of them and then breaks into Calhoun's study, demanding to know the location of Bat Lash.

  At knifepoint, Calhoun spills the info that Lash was taking the Gatling Gun and was going to auction it off to the highest bidder. Scalphunter demands Lash's location but Calhoun says that he doesn't know, the army doesn't know, everyone is looking for Bat Lash. He says that lash had stayed at the Grand Hotel earlier and Scalphunter tosses him aside, crashing Calhoun's skull against a nearby safe.

  Scalphunter moves off into the night, making his way through the shadows of the city in search of Bat Lash.

  We find Mr. Lash a lot easier for he is in the Hotel St Louis, in the company of two 'lovely' French ladies. As they are about to kiss, two men kick in the door, shouting and Lash dispatches them quickly with the help of Mr. Colt. Bat goes through the dead men's pockets, finding Confederate money. He steals one last kiss and departs just as the sheriff arrives.

  Under cover of dark, he makes his way down to the riverfront, sneaks into a warehouse and checks on his precious Gatling Gun. He wanted to be sure that General Beauregard Smith, a bidder in the upcoming auction, hadn't made off with the prize weapon while bat was combating the General's hired goons. Lash decides to spend the night with his prize to insure its safety.

  Just down the street at the Hotel Grand, Scalphunter inquires at the front desk of Bat Lash. The clerk insults Scalphunter and tells him to leave, but when Scalphunter grabs him by the collar and pulls him across the counter, the clerk realizes that the Indian is a white man and apologizes. A couple of other men comes up, asking if Scalphunter is a friend of Lash's and attack him. Scalphunter engages in the fight, picking one man up and hurling across the clerks' desk just as the other man gets off a shot that's creases Scalphunter's...well, scalp, knocking him out. The men gather up his limp form and take him to Gen. Beauregard.

  Dawn, and Scalpunter finds himself tied to a post in the company of the General. Smith puts forth a plan wherein Scalphunter will help him obtain the Gatling Gun for the Confederacy. Smith explains that since the Confederacy's cash reserves are frozen in northern banks, he plans to steal the weapon. Smith wants Scalphunter to tell him where the gun and Lash are located.

  Scalphunter says that he doesn't know, Lash is his enemy and if Smith unties him, he will help Smith on one condition...Scalphunter gets to kill Lash afterward. Smith smiles the smile of a man who has instantly struck a bargain.

  About an hour later (less, actually), Smith and some other men meet with Lash in the warehouse. Bat is perched high atop some crates, shotgun in hand, overseeing the auction. The bidding starts with Mr. Samson, representing the USA, ponying up $5,000 (about $122k today). The second man, Cyrus Calhoun, puts forth $7,000 and Gen. Smith raises it to $10,000. Bat inquires as to if that is Federal or Confederate dollars. Smith states that it would be Confederate, of course, and Lash declares his bid invalid.

  Just then Scalphunter jumps down from a skylight, smashing Bat Lash to the floor. Smith pulls a pistol, mounts up onto the wagon containing the Gatling Gun, and bolts out of the warehouse. Scalphunter is left with the unconscious Lash, Calhoun and Samson. He pulls his knife, weighs his options and then runs into the street, stealing a nearby horse.

  Later, twenty miles from St. Louis (probably near present day Maryville, Mo.) Gen. Smith is setting up an ambush for a US patrol. Scalphunter is on a rocky outcropping, overlooking the General, and he pulls his knife, ready to pounce. Suddenly Bat Lash grabs him by the ankle and pulls a pistol. Scalphunter kicks it out of Lash's hand and dives onto Lash. They battle hand to hand and Lash suddenly flips Scalphunter and explains that the General can't kill anyone with that gun because he removed the......

  Scalphunter knocks Lash out and heads to stop Smith. Just then the US patrol shows up and Smith shouts out to them that he is General Smith pf the Confederacy and that they are cowards. The patrol rushes him. Smith starts to crank the handle but it won't move. He is cut down in a hail of Union gunfire as Scalphunter watches.

  Heading back to St. Louis, Lash explains that he did it for the money but he couldn't let anyone get killed by that gun so he pulled the cotter pins from the crank handle so it wouldn't turn. Lash asks Scalphunter what is plans are. Brian states that his sister lives with the whites. He'll find word of her in St. Louis and he will look for her and find her. The two men part ways.

Statistics for this Issue
Men Killed by Scalphunter - Two warehouse guards.
Running Total - 85
Compared to Jonah Hex- Eight appearances in and Scalp has 85 vs Jonah's 39
Scalps Taken - 0
Running Total- 12
Injuries - Gut punched, bullet across the scalp. 
Timeline - Two days prior, one night and the next day. So we have spent four days in March, 1862.

Not a bad book overall. Some twists and turns. I especially enjoy the interaction between Scalphunter and Bat Lash, the savage of morals against the gentlemen of scoundrels. Conway's writing can be a little heavy handed, but that is to be expected when your main character doesn't spend half the book spouting forth exposition.

 Of course, a Lopez cover for me to drool over, never hurts.

Next Issue: The Search for his sister, Pit Fighters, and a Surprise from the Past!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Jonah Hex V2 #24 "All Hallows Eve"

Jonah Hex V2 #24 Dec. '07
"All Hallows Eve"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, David Michael Beck - art and cover

Two men are in full blown knock-down drag-out fight in a bar. One man is knocked out and a local official checks him out and announces the fallen man is dead. In the crowd observing is Jonah Hex and Bat Lash, discussing pugilism, with Bat explaining that only a trained fighter can withstand a beating from another fighter. Hex replies with, "Wanna bet?" and then sheds his shirt, but not his hat nor sidearms, to take on the winner, Bluett Boyd. 

  The fight proceeds and ends up being a two-swing affair, with Boyd missing and Hex connecting resulting in Boyd kissing the floor. A young man runs into the saloon with a telegram for Jonah and he heads out, with Lash tailing behind, uninvited.

Halloween in Hell Town

Three weeks later: Hex and Lash are riding into Coffin Creek under cover of darkness. They ride up to the local brothel and Hex encounters the madam, Crystal Ray Adercrombie. Hex asks why she hasn't asked other gunmen to help her out and Crystal explains that Bill Bradley outta Kansas came and tried to oust this man from Crystal's establishment, with no effect. Hex, Lash, & Crystal head up to room 9 and right before Jonah heads inside to evict this unwelcome guest, Crystal tells him that Bradley, right before leaving town, said that the man in room specifically asked for Jonah Hex.

Hell's Vengeful Assassin

In the room is none other than El Diablo and Jonah demands to know where Lazarus Lane is located. El Diablo unleashes his whip, wrapping it around Jonah's neck, bringing Jonah to his knees. Diablo states that the town is marked for death this All Hallow's Eve. Diablo has been imprisoned in the room so as not to interfere in the town's fate. A prairie witch by the name of Esmeralda Moorland lured Lazarus Lane away from Diablo and unless Lazarus and Diablo are reunited within three hours, Diablo will return to Hell and the entire town will die. 

Beams of unholy fire burst forth from Diablo's eyes, bathing Hex in fire.

Hunting the Supernatural

Hex steps from the room, his eyes glowing with fire and his voice twisted into that of Diablo. Hex tells Lash to follow him and they walk out into the street. We get to see the town through the eyes of Lash, everything looks normal, as well as through Hex's eyes, wherein everyone is a twisted misshapen demon. 

Walking up to the saloon, Hex demands two men produce Lazarus Lane and then he shoots both of them, rendering them both into flaming skeletons. Once inside the saloon, Lash sees Lane bound and gagged, hanging from lantern fixture in the ceiling. Everyone in the saloon, possessed by Esmeralda, is eating the raw remains of a freshly slaughtered bovine that is spread out across the bar. They all mutter the name of Hex. 

The witch commands that they all kill both Hex and Lash and the gunfight ensues. Hex's shots render the townsfolk into flaming skeletons while Lash's bullets produce only normal effects. Lash takes note of the fact and Jonah tosses a sidearm to Bat. The gun, while smoking hot from the fires of hell, only shoots regular bullets while being wielded by someone other than one possessed by Diablo. Jonah unleashes the whip and cuts Lane down, ordering Lash to take him back to the hotel. Bat is quick to comply.

Jonah and Esmeralda fight it out in the bar while Bat Lash tries to make it back across the street, but all hell has broken out  with townsfolk slaughtering each other in the street. Lash finds his way to the brothel barred by two men. He takes them out with a flourish of playing cards and a well placed boot tip and then dives through a window.

Back in the saloon, Hex and the witch continue to battle when suddenly, with a burst of flame, El Diablo appears. Using his fire whip, he entraps the witch and liberates her head from her body. Bat lash enters the saloon saying that the town is returning to normal.

Dawn the next morning finds Jonah and Bat in the company of Crystal and one of her ladies. Bat is recounting the time he saved Jonah. Finally, Jonah announces that he is hitting the hay and the lady goes upstairs with him. At the top of the stairs, Hex and his companion encounter Lazarus Lane, who thanks Jonah for his help. Grabbing Lane by the neck and driving a finger into his chest, Jonah replies with "Yer welcome."

Bat Lash invites Lane to a hand or two of cards, but Lazarus states that he has overstayed his welcome in Coffin Creek and will be leaving soon.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - We see 7 killed by Jonah, but there were probably more in the saloon. I'll stick with 7.
Running Total - 653 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 161 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Possessed by the devil himself.
TimelineThree weeks of travel and a night or two? Let's settle on 22 days and this one takes place after "An Eye for an Eye".
Rape Percentage -  34% (8 out of 23)

  I wasn't a big fan of this one. I really enjoy Bat Lash, especially with Hex, but I have always have (and always WILL) enjoy Jonah outside of the regular DC Universe with all of its supernatural and superheroic trappings. Lazarus Lane is an interesting character when handled by J and J, but Diablo doesn't fit into my vision of Hex's world. And Beck's artwork just doesn't do it for me, something is always slightly 'off', it tries too hard to be photographic. It looks traced, maybe?

Oh well, make of it what you will.

Next Issue: We teeter on the brink of the turn of the century and get a surprise visit from the past.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Jonah Hex V2 #23 "Who Lives and Who Dies"

Jonah Hex V2 #23 Nov. '07
"Who Lives and Who Dies"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Jordi Bernet - art and cover

Another Fine Mess

Our story starts with the sun beating down on Jonah Hex who finds himself chained by the ankle to a large iron eyebolt next to a massive stone in the middle of the desert. The voiceover (aka caption) is a wondrous thing and does not belong to Hex. We quickly learn that it is that of a man, school teacher by trade, sporting only one arm by way of terrible misfortune. He is explaining the value of common sense to his class and launches into the tale that comprises the bulk of our book.

 He explains how he and three companions had been charged, by a Chicago newspaper, with photographing the Apache. They had hired Jonah Hex as their guide, at times fearing him more than the Indians they sought to chronicle. After several weeks, they locate the Apache in a canyon and with Jonah along, the time spent is calm and fruitful.

The chief explains to Jonah that they fear the Kiowa since the Great White Father has moved many tribes into closer proximity to each other. Shortly thereafter, the Kiowa, in fact, do attack and the school teacher scrambles for the safety of higher ground as Hex and the Apache do battle with the Kiowa. Unfortunately, during his escape, the school teacher knocks loose a large rock and both he and the stone tumble to the canyon floor with the massive rock crushing the school teacher's left arm and pinning him to the ground. After the fighting has abated, Jonah comes over to the man, and using his saber, cuts off the teacher's  arm.

Avenging Yellow Bear

The teacher awakens several hours later to darkness, a campfire and Apache standing watch.

Two nights later, Hex and the teacher are talking about phantom pains and the fact that the Kiowa, although beaten back are still fixing to attack again. Hex explains that the Apache chief, Yellow Bear, is dead and that he plans on killing the Kiowa chief himself.

Complications Ensue

With that, Jonah melts away into the darkness, and the teacher relates to us what he eventually learned much later....

The Kiowa themselves are pinned in a canyon with a large group of US soldiers on the ridge above them. They order an Indian with them to inform the Kiowa below that food parcels will be tossed into the canyon and that the Kiowa should surrender peacefully. The parcels are delivered but when they are opened the Kiowa discover bundles of rattlesnakes. While the Kiowa are disoriented, the soldiers open fire on the tribe below. Just then Hex appears and is ordered to halt by one of the soldiers. 

Jonah requests to see the commanding officer and is take to Col. Davidson. Davidson, taking ill note of Jonah's jacket, demands to know why Hex is there. Jonah explains that there is an Indian in the canyon that he has personal business with. Davidson and Hex exchange multi worded insults that result in Davidson pushing Hex backwards into the canyon.

On the canyon floor, Jonah pulls his knife as several Kiowa advance on him. He calls out Chief Iron Heart, stating that he is there to avenge Yellow Bear. Jonah and several Kiowa battle it out as Davidson's men gleefully watch from above. Eventually, one of the soldiers ventures too close to the edge and tumbles in. Jonah accidentally stabs the man in the thigh but does defeat the remaining Kiowa.

Davidson tosses down a rope, retrieving his man and Jonah both. Davidson decides to take revenge on Hex for stabbing one of his soldiers and calls for a leg iron and a spike.

That morning we find Jonah shackled and the spike being driven into the base of a very large stone (taking us back to our opening scene). The Col. states that he has no food to spare but he is not an unfair man, he allows Jonah to keep his knife and a canteen of water. The soldiers then ride off.

Once alone, Jonah breaks off some sagebrush and piles it around the spike. He waits several hours for the sage to dry and then pulls a few matches from his boot. He lights the sage of fire, heating up the spike and then douses the flames in an attempt to crack the iron of the spike. He hacks at the spike with the knife but is unable to free himself. Finally the teacher locates Hex and asks how he can help. Jonah instructs the teacher to urinate on the spike in a further attempt to crack the hot metal.

We flash back to the classroom, with the students begging to know if their instructor rescued the bounty hunter. He assures them that Jonah was indeed freed and he dismisses the school for the day. When his personal reflections resume, we find Davidson is now shackled to the spike and the teacher has his camera tripod at the ready. Jonah has demanded that the teacher take one photo every hour until Davidson either frees himself or expires. 

The teacher refuses and pulls a rifle on Hex, demanding that Davidson be released. Jonah ponders the situation for a moment and then hands the shackle key to the teacher. The teacher unlocks the cuff and Davidson immediately grabs the rifle and kicks the teacher to the ground. Davidson takes aim, but Hex has already cleared leather and has unleashed the bullet that pierces Davidson right between the eyes. Hex then rides off, leaving the teacher with the Col's corpse.

Statistics for the issue
Men Killed by Jonah - We see at least six Kiowa and then Col Davidson, so seven this issue (certainly more, but we go with what we know)
Running Total - 646 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 154 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Probable dehydration, bruises from the fall
Timeline - A week of travel to the Apache camp, three nights prior to locating the Kiowa and then possibly another day or two to find and shackle Davidson. 12 days. The history of the Apache and the Kiowa relocations took place over several years but this probably falls into place around 1874-76 time frame.
Rape Percentage - 35% (8 out of 23)

 This one makes up for last issue. Bernet's art is gritty, yet full of action. There are small little things like the Apache kids putting a lizard in Jonah's boot that bring a smile to your face. The people have great expressions and each character looks different. 

 I have said before that I enjoy the Hex books that are narrated. Around this time in DC comics, they decided to have the captions all be stream of consciousness but from a character's point of view. They would have a small logo in the corner, as an icon to let you know who was speaking (bat symbol, red S, and so on) Sadly, they used a convention of colored text on differently colored background so at times it was unreadable.

DC could have made a huge mistake with continuing this format in the Hex books, But Palmiotti and Gray wisely took this concept and removed it one step away from the main character. In their books, we never hear Hex's inner thoughts, any exposition is done by an outsider, someone other than Hex himself, and we are treated to dialogue befitting any letters written during the Civil War or any words plucked from a Cohen Brothers movie. Once again, I find myself reading these books aloud, relishing the flow and lilt like the delicate smoke ring on good pulled pork.

Next Issue: Bat Lash, El Diablo, The Wicked Witch and... what else do you need?

Monday, February 06, 2017

Jonah Hex V2 #22 "The Current War"

Jonah Hex V2 #22 Oct. '07
"The Current War"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Phil Noto - art and cover

Well, it's been almost a full year since my last, but we ARE back in the saddle again my friends, and I will do my best to be weekly. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's jump right into...

The Man of Tomorrow

A bolt of lightning break through the night sky and Jonah is caught in a downpour, followed by a man navigating what looks like a medicine show wagon. They arrive at a large house and Hex is ushered into the presence of a man seated in front of a roaring fire. The man, Mr. Booth, by name, has called for Hex and in an effort to explain WHY he needs a man of Jonah's skills, starts speaking of dime novels.

He covers the brief history of this form of literature, starting with Beadle's Dime Novels and highlighting one published in 1862, The Steam Man of the Prairies and how it impacted his life. Booth then queries Hex if he has heard of Edison and Tesla. Jonah acknowledges having heard of Edison. Booth leads Hex to a large barn on the property and starts speaking, both at length and to the consternation of Jonah, about the upcoming twentieth century and wonders that it will surely hold.

  In the barn, a laboratory and workshop, Booth uncovers and large sheet covered Automata, a robot of sorts. He describes how Nikola Tesla is currently working on devices such as the one standing before them. Booth explains how, a week ago, a worker of his, Albert Fennimore, has stolen the newest model of Booth's robots as well as the blueprints and has undoubtedly whisked them away to Edison.  Jonah doesn't seem very interested in tracking a a tin man, but Booth is persistent, explaining that two men, along with a vary large crate, were seen leaving two days on a train bound northward.

   Jonah postulates that men willing to steal such a machine might be willing to kill in order to keep it and Booth is asking Jonah to murder them in an illegal and unprovoked manner, and as such, Jonah cannot...

  Booth offers $10,000 and states that he is not asking that Edison or his men be harmed, but if such happens, then why should either of them care? Booth states that the train was headed to Denver and Edison is know to have a fortress there.

Fortress of the Future

Under cover of darkness, Jonah comes riding through a mountain pass and eventually arrives in front of a huge stockade fort. Two armed guards inform Jonah that he is to leave but Jonah tells them to announce his arrival and that he was sent by Aubrey Booth. The guards are not swayed and when they tell Jonah to leave, he knocks one down with his horse and leaps upon the other one, holding him a gunpoint when reinforcements arrive. Jonah demands that he be let in so he can determine the accuracy of Booth's claim that his invention was stolen.

The guards take him inside.

Inside, there is a giant Tesla coil (?!?) in the center of the courtyard, lights strung all about, and several large robots being worked on by assistants. Eventually, Hex is escorted into the lab and the presence of Thomas Edison himself. Edison asks of Jonah's business and Jonah lays his cards on the table. Edison, draping his arm around Jonah's shoulder, states that they shall have supper together and sort this entire matter out. Jonah replies that Edison shouldn't be touching him.

Good Old-Fashioned Bullets

At dinner, Edison asks if Jonah has ever seen electric lights before and Hex confesses that he has, in Gotham City. Edison waxes about how, soon, the country will be covered with his electric bulbs, banishing the darkness. Hex asks about Booth's machine.

Edison explains that the Steam-Powered Man was actually and invention of Edison's and Booth, a former employee, is the one that stole it. Edison produces papers indicating that Booth was an employee and worked on the Steam-Powered Man project. Jonah asks how hard it would be to falsify such papers. Edison states that he COULD have done so, but sending Jonah away would have been much easier.

Edison then steers the conversation to the business in which Hex finds himself employed, bounty hunting, and talk of the future and all that it holds. During their conversation there is a huge noise outside and when Edison and Hex investigate they discover the walls have been breached and several masked men are riding inside with torches and causing mayhem.

One of Edison's guards say they could be locals, afraid of the mystery surrounding the labs and the fortress. Hex sees that one of the men has dynamite and shoots the explosive, killing the man. Jonah grabs the man's horse, mounts up, and starts shooting several of the remaining invaders. Edison notices a symbol on the jacket of one of the dead invaders. Jonah explains that Booth had the same symbol on his jacket.

Edison is convinced that Booth sent Hex to find Edison so that Booth's men could come and kill him. He also speaks of Tesla, another of his enemies that want to see him destroyed. Edison tells Jonah that maybe men will eventually stop killing each other with bullets but may utilize guns that shoot electricity and offers Jonah the job of personal body guard and perhaps even to eliminate Tesla. Jonah turns him down, but does demand money for helping save Edison's precious labs.

Surveying the damage that has been done, Edison tells Jonah that the machine age IS coming and soon the skies and streets will be full of machines. Jonah replies that by then they both will be dead, and better off for it.

Statistics for the issue
Men Killed by Jonah - We see three men killed
Running Total - 639 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 147 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - None
Timeline - Not sure WHERE Jonah started or how long it took him to get to the Rocky Mountain near Denver. Let's just call it a week and be done with it. Edison's reference to Tesla and their broken contract of $50,000, puts this one after 1884. Booth's mention of alternating current, pushes this closer to 1890.
Rape Percentage - 36% (8 out of 22)

Wow, what a stinker to return to blogging with. I'm not a fan of Noto's work and his coloring looks like cheap Heroclix figures dipped in walnut varnish. Everything is dark, murky, stiff, muddy. I would be inclined to call it 'meh' but that would entail more work than what Noto put into the colors. If this was someone's introduction to Jonah Hex, I can see them never picking up another book of Jonah's. Yeah, it IS that bad.

Next Issue: Indians, The Army, and someone gets 'schooled'!!