Michael Fleisher, story - Ron Wagner and Carlos Garzon, art - Mark Texeira and Klaus Janson, cover
Jonah Hex is in the out of control hovercraft of the late Barnaby Blossom and is heading straight for the side of a mountain. Jonah, being the fine pilot he is, slams headlong into the cliff face.
Meanwhile, three other men in a different craft are tracking Blossom's ship on a radar and are thinking that someone probably hijacked Blossom and his cargo.
Back at the wall of rock, Jonah is lucky enough that his crashed transportation has landed on a ledge and as he works his way out of the burning wreckage, the craft suddenly topples and Jonah is left to climb up teh sheer rock wall all by his lonesome.
We flash back to the jungles of Viet Nam to find Harris running for his life. Suddenly he steps into a trap and is captured by the VC! They take him back to their village and start torturing him, asking questions. Harris only gives up his name, rank, and serial number. However the VC keep demanding to know about the CIA, troop movements, mission details and the location of Jonah Hex!
Then we find out the truth, Harris is drugged and held captive by Dr. Kinglet, head medical lackey of Reinhold Borsten. Kinglet states that Harris's will is so strong that he continues to fight the hypno drugs even to the point of damaging his brain. Borsten, who slowly enters the room, states that Hex needs to be recaptured before Borsten takes his next journey into the past.
Several hours later, we find Jonah Hex stumbling across various canyons, nursing his busted ribs and looking for water. He finally finds a watering hole and as he falls down, scooping up double handfuls of water he hears a voice behind him warning not to drink the water.
It's Stiletta! Jonah pulls his pistol and demands that she stay back since she's some kind of machine that he saw blasted apart. She says that whatever he saw, it wasn't her. She kneels down and fills a canteen with water, stating that she has no idea how Jonah Hex got to be so ignorant, but that in the holocaust of 2045, all open water was contaminated to the point of one taste kills a man. She takes a wafer, splits it into quarters and drops one in the canteen, explaining that it is a soames and that one soames purifies one gallon of water.
Meanwhile, our three airborne friends from before have finally come upon the wreckage of Barnaby Blossom's machine.
By now, Jonah and Stiletta have gotten their canteens filled and are on her motorcycle. Jonah has explained where he is from and how he got stranded. Stiletta isn't surprised since it explains a whole lot about him. She had lost track of Hex after the battle for the water and then heard about a scar-faced guy that hijacked a conglomerate 'hovo'. Just then they are set upon by hill scum! Several men jump from the overhanging cliffs and knock Stiletta and Jonah off the bike. Both are eventually overcome by their attackers and once the hill scum finish robbing them, they decide to kill Hex and Stiletta. Jonah grabs a handful of sand, throws it into the hill scum's eyes, grabs Stiletta and jumps over the edge of the cliff. The hill scum stand atop the cliff, watching the pair slide and tumble to their death.
We now find Jonah and Stiletta walking across the Washington state desert. Stiletta mentions that Falcon told her about a cave that had clean water in it about twelve miles from where they are. They slowly head for the cave when Stiletta says that there is something that she should tell Hex. She explains that Reinhold Borsten is her father.
Back at the Needle, Borsten is giving a great explanation of the history of he and his daughter. Eight years ago, in 2042 (thus making this 2050), Borsten worked as a national security administration liaison to the top-secret project Cronos, tasked with building a time machine. They were eventually successful and decided to send one of their scientists three years into the future, to 2045. The man vanished and never returned.
Not until much later that is. Somehow, unexplained, one night when Borsten was in the lab, the time machine started up and the co worker that had been sent to 2045 returned. Sadly he was near death, his body ravaged and disfigured from radiation poisoning. With his dying words the man explained about the global nuclear war that wiped out everything, leaving the planet broken almost beyond repair.
Acting quickly, Borsten sent the man's dying body into the far far future (I would love to see his body suddenly appear with no explanation in a Legion of Super Heroes story!!), gathered all the plans and programs needed to restore the planet and then sent himself five years into the future, to 2047. As he vanished, he tossed a hand grenade into the lab, destroying the only working time machine.
To his dismay, by the time Borsten had arrived, the underworld had already started repairing the earth and had formed the Conglomerate, holding complete control over the entire planet because it was they alone who controlled the production of soames. Borsten, however, does have plans to overthrow the Congolmerate and take over control of the earth.
We finally find Jonah and Stiletta walking up to the cave (Let's see, twelve miles at three miles an hour is four hours, but they are injured so let's say six hours later). They rig up a torch and head into the cave and quickly find the pool of clean water. However, they also find...
Jonah uses the torch to fight of the slimy bloodsuckers as Stiletta fills up the canteen. She gets it filled but suddenly one of the worms wraps around her leg. She panics, lunging backwards and falls into Jonah, who accidentally throws the torch into the pool of water.
In the total darkness, Jonah tells her to light a match. She gets one lit and out of the darkness, Jonah hands her his shirt, telling her to light it. Once it starts blazing we see....
They finally get the giant bloodsucking things off of Hex and Jonah cuts the last one in half with his handy knife. They stumble out of the cave with the canteen of water just as we see our three friends from the Conglomerate draw a bead on them from up above..
Statistics for this Issue:Men killed by Jonah - hmm, we see three hill scum bodies and we know that Stiletta sliced one open so let's say Jonah gets two kills.
Running Total - 447 (428 past, 19 future)
Jonah's Injuries - Broken ribs from the crash and several lost patches of skin from the worms.
Timeline - Can you believe that it is still day number two of Jonah Hex in the future? I think the days must be longer of something! Anyway, we know that we are now in 2050!!
A pretty good issue. We get one aspect of Stiletta resolved, we play catch-up on history thanks to Reinhold "Exposition Machine" Borsten, we learn more of the fate of Stanley Harris, and we have a large villain in the drug dealing Conglomerate. Lots of action, lots of danger. It's some pretty typical 80's sci-fi, but damn, it's Jonah Hex and that carries me a long way. (Note: Please do NOT remind me of this last sentence when we finally get to Shadows West.)
So far in HEX we have a well laid out culture with a strong historical backstory and it is apparent that Fleisher isn't making this up one issue at a time. I'm enjoying it, I really am (and I was back in 1985)
Next Issue: A spy in the needle, Borsten goes back to 2042, Stiletta and Hex plan to rob the Conglomerate, and we meet the number one paid hitman in.... The Seattle Chainsaw Massacre!!!