Jonah Hex #61 June 1982
"In the Lair of the Manchus!"
Michael Fleisher, story - Dick Ayers & Tony DeZuniga, art - Ross Andru & Dick Giordano, cover
To start where we left off last time...
Okay, so Jonah is has been kidnapped and taken to China where an evil warlord & head of the White Lotus has decided that he wants to employ Jonah Hex & to insure his cooperation, Mei Ling has been kidnapped as well.
Wu Bong Phat explains how he was in the US on a trade mission when he kept hearing of Hex's exploits. Phat realized that Jonah would be just the man that the White Lotus society needed. Therefore they kidnapped him and brought him to this point.
The deed for which they hired Jonah? Assassination of current Manchu emperor in his palace in Peking.
Phat takes Jonah on a walk through the grounds of the White Lotus, explaining that over the last 200 years the Manchu dynasty has become corrupt. In 1796, the White Lotus tried to overthrow the Manchus but eight years later the White Lotus was crushed..for a time. Now they are back and plan to overthrow the government. Phat shows Jonah a teacher explaining to villagers how, when the White Lotus gains power, the Maitreya Buddha will come down from heaven and all disease & suffering. Phat takes Jonah to another teacher, explaining to six men how paradise awaits them if they die in the fight for the White Lotus. Phat tells Jonah that a man who knows paradise awaits him can be an unbeatable foe.
Suddenly, Phat gives a signal and the six men rush at Jonah with knives and hatchets. Jonah grabs the first man, flips him over, gut punches a second and delivers a roundhouse knockout to a third. The next man lands a hard chop on Jonah's left shoulder, completely numbing his arm and leaving him to fight one handed. Jonah lands a hard blow to the chest and a quick two-punch to the jaw, taking out the fourth opponent.
The final two decide to attack together, but Jonah manages to swing up into a tree, one handed, swing around a branch and place a boot into each man's jaw. Jonah stand triumphant, surrounded by the fallen men. At an overhead balcony, the warlord has been watching everything and is delighted with Jonah's abilities and that he passed this test.
Phat then takes Jonah to his room for the night. Mei Ling is there and as Phat & the guard leave, the guard gives Jonah one more bust to the chops with a rifle butt. Mei Ling runs to Jonah's side. Jonah asks Ling how she got mixed up all of this and she explains that she had received a telegram stating that Jonah was in danger. When she went to the place appointed in the telegram, she was abducted.
Jonah notes that Mei Ling must still have some feelings for him and decides to cozy up to her, but Mei Ling says that even though she has feelings for Jonah, she can't talk about them here or now.
The next morning Phat explains his plan to Jonah and Ling. Ling will be escorted northward to Peking and placed into the emperor's harem and in a few weeks, she will be able to act as a guide for Jonah and allow him entrance into the palace. Phat mentions that one as lovely as Ling would be very attractive to the emperor and maybe......
Jonah understands and rushes Phat in anger, getting a rifle butt to the head. Mei Ling is led away to Peking.
Ten days later, Mei Ling and her escorts arrive at the palace. The escorts leave her in the charge of a stable groom. He sneaks her into the palace and shows her a hidden passage that will lead her to the harem. He cannot take her farther, for he is not to even be in the palace. Mei Ling heads down the passage and right after the groom closes the hidden door, he is discovered by guards. He attempts to kill himself, but he is knocked out and drug away.
The next morning, Phat is reviewing the plan once more with Jonah. Jonah's pistols and knife are returned and he is told that once he completes his mission, he will be paid by Phat's spy and that Hex & Mei Ling will be placed on a boat bound for America. An escort party will take Jonah to Peking and Jonah says that is anything happens to Mei Ling, Hex will come back and wring Phat's fat neck.
As Hex rides off, Phat chuckles to himself because the plan is that after the assassination, Jonah will be captured by the White Lotus and will rise to power with the blessing of a grateful populace.
Ten days later, after coming within sight of the Great Wall of China (which is north of Peking, therefore Jonah, coming from the south, rode PAST Peking and then back!), Jonah is at the palace. His escorts leave and Jonah uses his rope to scale the palace wall in the darkness. He strangles one guard and stabs another.
Meanwhile, the stable groom is taken from the dungeon where he is being tortured (for 10 days!?!) and brought before the emperor. The man begs for his life but it appears that the emperor is not granting and grace.
Mei Ling, in the harem, sneaks out to rendezvous with Jonah.
Jonah leaps down from the palace wall and runs across the courtyard to the door that Ling is supposed to open. He notes that this has been way too easy. Mei Ling opens the door to allow Jonah in. Jonah states that he is gonna go back on their plan and just head for the hills but a roaming group of guards forces Jonah and Mei Ling to go back into the palace. Inside they are discovered by another group of guards and Jonah starts shooting it out with them while telling Mei Ling to run for it.
She refuses to leave, but finally relents, heading down a hallway and narrowly avoiding more guards by ducking into the secret tunnel to the harem.
Jonah, has problems of his own as he runs out of bullets and resorts to pushing over a huge Buddha statue to give him some time to run away. He makes a couple of turns down a couple of halls and finds himself in a dead end!
Jonah spins around and is faced with seven guards drawing a bead on him with their rifles!!!!!!
Statistics for this Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - I put it at 7 palace guards that I can visually verify
Running Total - 358
Jonah's Injuries - Karate Chopped once, rifle butt to the head twice.
Timeline - Well, this once covers 21 days. Jonah was kidnapped, traveled to California for 21 days, was on board a ship of 60 days, recovering from shipwreck for 28 days, add 10 days for Mei Ling's trip to Peking and 10 days for Jonah's trip to Peking we are looking at 129 days since Jonah was kidnapped. I'll take May 1st as the Abduction Date, so we are now at Sept 6th (give or take) of 1876.
Another good chapter in the China saga, but through all of this, I find myself wondering how this would be portrayed today? I know that Palmiotti & Gray's Hex would be a lot less talky and the whole thing would probably be told from the aspect of a history book or a diary. And it would a whole helluva lot bloodier. Hmmmm, I wonder if we could get them to redo this one?
Next Issue: "Who let the cats out?" For real this time!