Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Weird Western Tales #13 "The Killer's Last Wish!"
Weird Western Tales #13 Aug-Sept 1972
"The Killer's Last Wish!"
John Albano, story - Tony Dezuniga, art
The story starts off with Jonah gunning down an unknown man. Jonah is riding across the desert followed by his wolf, Iron-Jaws. Jonah loads up the corpse on his horse and continues riding on. Later he comes upon a small shack and gets fired upon from a covered wagon. Jonah returns fire and shouts out that the gunman has just two seconds before Jonah shoots him dead.
The gunman is an old man who suddenly recognizes Jonah's voice. The old man jumps out of his hiding place and shouts that he is Windy Taylor, the man who taught Jonah how to shoot. Later while they are visting, we learn that Windy had requested that Jonah come to Windy' ranch. Jonah shows Windy the corpse on Jonah's horse and asks if Windy recognizes him. Windy verifies that the dead man is one of the men trying to run him off his ranch.
Jonah starts to bury the corpse but Windy points him over to three other graves, buddies of the dead man, and who all work for a man named Fenwick. After the man is buried, Jonah and Windy are eating supper. Suddenly they hear gunfire and when they run outside there are several men on horses riding away. They have shot & killed all of Windy's cattle. Jonah saddles up & takes off after the men and tells Windy to tie up Iron-Jaws. Windy shouts back that all he really wanted Jonah to do was help straighten out Windy's son.
Meanwhile in town, Fenwick greets the men who shot the cattle. Fenwick offers the men some sherry but they are wanting to get paid and get gone. They tell Fenwick that Windy has hired Jonah Hex and Hex has already killed the fella that was supposed to bushwhack Jonah. Fenwick states that he has no idea who Hex is.
Later that evening, these two men, Will & Boone, are riding far out of town. They discuss if Hex will hunt them down for killing the cattle. They decide that they are far enough away from town to camp for the night. Will starts telling stories about Hex, about how Hex is immortal and can cast spells. The other man, Boone, leaves to gather firewood. A few minutes later, Will hears a sound and thinks he hears a wild steer. He fires at it and then discovers that he has shot & killed Boone coming back with an armload of firewood. Will is shouting at Boone, telling him he is sorry for shooting him.
Just then we hear Jonah tell Will that Boone can't hear anything. Will panics and start running through the underbrush, yelling that Hex won't catch him. Will suddenly falls off a cliff, screaming all the way down.
Back at Windy's ranch, Windy fires at an unknown rider coming towards his ranch. The man dismounts and shouts that he is Tod, Windy's son. Windy says that he is surprised Tod is back since they had that big arguement last week. Tod has come back only to pack, he is sick of being treated like a stepson. Tod says that he is heading east but he will be needing a lot of money to get started. When Windy's back is turned, Tod pulls a pistol and shoots Windy in the back. As Windy falls a large wad of cash goes airborne in the cabin. Windy gasps that he was going to give Tod the money to start over.
Tod starts ranting, saying that he had asked for the money a hundred times before, but Windy had always refused. That is why Tod had to make a deal with Fenwick to kill Windy for $500. Tod leaves the cabin and we see Iron-Jaws lunging against the chain that is holding him.
Tod rides into town to meet Fenwick & get his money. Fenwick offers him more cash if Tod will find and kill Jonah Hex. Tod says that Fenwick probably has about a thousand dollars in his office so Tod shoots & kills Fenwick and then steals the money. Tod rides out of town and several miles later he gets ready to bed down for the night. He keeps having this odd feeling that he has been followed. He imagines that shadows are shaped like men. Slowly one of the shadows takes shape until it appears to be Jonah Hex and Iron-Jaws.
Tod demands to know who he is going to kill. Jonah tells Tod his name and that he is tracking the killer of his friend. And that trail leads east. Tod admits that he is heading east, and he'll continue to head east after he has killed Hex. Tod draws and as he is about to pull the trigger, Jonah's bullet strikes him in the chest. Tod staggers several steps, eastward, and then collapses in a nearby creek.
The next morning, Jonah is riding out of town. Several townsfolk comment on Jonah bringing in two bodies and requesting that Windy will be buried on his ranch but that Tod's body will be shipped east.
Statistics for this issue
Men killed by Jonah - 3
Running Total: 20
Jonah's Injuries - None
Timeline - This takes place prior to Iron-Jaws death in the next issue, which I've placed around 1867. Oddly, Jonah has his Confederate hat, but not the black one he had been sporting.
This early story from Albano keeps the mystical superstitious stories surrounding Hex. The later Fleisher stories dropped this in favor of characterization. Was the change for the better? I think to get the character started it was a wonderful way to build mystery and build readership but I think that the current series that DC is publishing is striking a good balance between the two types of Hex. There are times I enjoy these older stories, other times I enjoy the later stories.Next Issue: A stakeout, rabies, killer cats and bodies left to rot.