I've been rereading some Elseworlds trades I have. Some of them work really well and others not so much. Batman in the Old West didn't work but Batman during the French Revolution did. So did Batman vs Jack the Ripper. Commie Superman in Red Son was a great book.
Why does a great Elseworlds work? I think it works when we see a character placed into a different time and things end up playing out very closely to the 'real' character, not through very contrived circumstances, but something that flows naturally. The French Revolution Batman didn't lose his parents, but he was still the playboy by day and the fearful bat at night and battled against a believeable Harvey Dent. The Victorian Batman worked because it was very plausible that Bruce Wayne would have studied under Freud and also studied the methods of Holmes. The technology he had was comparable to what he would have been able to put together at the time. Red Son Superman took the man and his principles and gave them a slight communist twist, allowing Superman to become the leader of the not-so-free world.
Old West Batman didn't work because he was mainly a spy for the goverment and the idea of Robin being a secret Indian agent just didn't fly. None of it was the same character.
So that got me to thinking. What would an Elseworlds Jonah Hex look like? He would have to have an abusive father, fight in a war, become hideuosly scarred, rejected by society. I'm not talking about Vertigo Jonah Hex or thrown into the future Hex. I want a Jonah Hex that starts his entire story in another time or another country.
How about a Jonah Hex that is from Germany and has lied about his age to get into the army during the end of WWI? He decides that the war is too brutal and when he decides to surrender he ends up being horribly scarred during an explosion. He recovers and eventually finds his way to America in the early twenties, smack dab in the middle of Prohibition and ends up working for Al Capone as an enforcer. Eventually he realizes that he doesn't like working for anyone and starts free-lancing for the Feds, other gangs, anyone that will pay him enough.
Jonah Hex during the American Revolution as a Tory that realizes he is on the wrong side and finally winds up as a ...?
Jonah Hex as a Samurai in feudal Japan?
Jonah Hex in Medival England as a scarred knight?
Jonah Hex, abandoned by his parents, sold into slavery for the Egyptians. He kills another Egyptian, is discovered and is scarred according to Egyptian law and cast out into the wilderness.
Anyway, it's interesting to contemplate, but I think that we would never see any of these come to fruition. Nice to dream though.