Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Many Phases of Jonah Hex - The Displaced Hex

The sales on Jonah Hex was dropping and in an attempt to save the character, Michael Fleisher ventured into a realm that he himself has confessed that he was uncomfortable with, science fiction.

Jonah was thrown into the world on 2052, years after a worldwide nuclear holocaust, and even though he passed out from information overload in the first issue, Jonah did what he did best. He adapted.

Though the world was new, the carnage and destruction were still pretty much the same. Guns still had triggers, people would still bleed and things would still explode. Some (I, for one) will say that he adapted waaaay to fast, even managing to ride a futuristic motorcycle in the first issue. Jonah showed an incredibly quick knowledge of mechanics that included driving cars, melting robots, taking on an automated shooting gallery, and even using rocket exhaust to destroy a few aliens. But, this is a comic book, we only have about 20 pages to deliver the danger as well as the escape for the hero, and Hex was forced to be a quick learner.

Overall, the book was still pretty much a Western at heart. The evil railroad men became the evil corporations, gold became Soames, the roving Indians and bandits became roving biker gangs and... bandits, the stagecoach became a hovercraft, the pistol was still a pistol (something that tickled me whenever Hex would resort to an old fashioned bullet), and Batman became, sort of a Batman. It goes to show that the basis of a story is, and always will be, about a hero and a villain and what ultimately happened between the two.

As a series, I was hot and cold on the book. It was Jonah Hex and I would be buying it, pretty much no matter what. The beginning art by Texeria was smooth, clean and very cinematic. Very much like the work of Ross on Jonah Hex V2 or the Lopez work on the original run. The stories had a proper amount of melodrama that kept the same pacing as the end of the Jonah Hex run and Fleisher did a good job at introducing new concepts even though the Earth of the future didn't hold together very well when examined with any sort of close eye (New York is still standing while Seattle is a nuclear wasteland?).

I think the whole series started slipping around issue 11, with the future Batman and then we got the Dogs of War and finally the 'artwork' of Keith Giffen but it was able to redeem itself with the very last page of the very last book in one of the all-time moments in comics (and I'm including all of DC, Marvel, as well as everything that Don Rosa ever produced).

It would be a long time before we got another taste of the scar-faced bounty hunter that we could all sit back and savor. Hex, uneven as it was, was still Jonah Hex and for some folks a mediocre Hex series is better than no Hex series at all. 

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All of the above was penned way back in 2011, since then we have seen Jonah once again thrown into the future in All-Star Western 21 via Booster Gold. Jonah encountered a slew of super-folks in addition to Booster. He tangled with a version of Nightwing, Swamp Thing, Constantine, Superman, Bruce Wayne (in non-Batman garb). He ended up in Arkham Asylum in the care of Jeremiah Arkham and eventually kidnaps Arkham, guns down several of the Gotham Mutants from The Dark Knight Returns and hooks up with a curvy young woman named Gina Green.

He stops a rampaging serial killer, digs up a ton of his old hidden gold, attends a Burning Man type festival, encounters soul sucking demons, gets attacked by the Black Mercy (most recently seen on CBS Supergirl episode).

Finally, in a poor turn of judgement, Gina take Jonah to a museum exhibition of Jonah Hex paraphernalia where they both encounter the stuffed remains of old Jonah himself. Jonah storms out of the museum, goes on a drunken binge and ends up wrapping his motorcycle around a semi. Modern medicine being what it is, the doctors think Jonah's facial scarring was a result of the wreck and they completely repair Jonah's face.

Once discharged from the hospital, Jonah encounters Booster Golds again who sends Jonah and Gina back into the old west, where things go from very bad to very worse. All in all, only 8 issues and Jonah's reaction to his corpse does not take into account the end of Hex, leading me to believe that we are dealing with a Jonah from an alternate history, somewhere along here.

There have been a few other incidences of Jonah making reference to his time travel, once in The Once and Future Thing in a Justice League Unlimited episode where several members of the JLA go back to the old west. Jonah comments that he thinks they are time travelers and when quizzed as to why he thinks that, Jonah responds "I've had an interesting life."

This episode is pretty much rehashed in Justice League Unlimited #19 where Jonah once again talks about time travel and mentions that "it's complicated".

So, probably due to the lack of story-telling time, Jonah has shown to be quite adaptable no matter where he is thrown and I am wondering if, in the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow episode, we will get a Jonah that has experienced time-travel or not.

6 comments:

Slap Bookleather said...

My first introduction to Jonah Hex was issue sixteen of this comic. I had no idea that he was a man out of time, and no idea what the heck the ending meant, but I thought it was great.

By the way I have been reading Matching Dragoons for years. Great works.

SallyP said...

I know that there is a future Hex series out there...but so far, I have managed to avoid it. It's not that I don't LIKE science fiction...but my brain just can't make the leap.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

Wow, Slap. You caught the book at the very very tail end. What prompted you to pick it up?

Slap Bookleather said...

I was about 12 years old and already getting tired of guys in tights hitting each other in comics. This looked like a good change. I didn't figure it out until years later when I started to get into the Lansdale/Truman series.

You may enjoy this, by the way:

http://slapbookleather.blogspot.com/2011/07/jonah-hex-69-daddy-issues.html

Susan said...

I always felt "Future Hex" could have worked if 1) they slowed down a little and actually allowed Jonah some reaction time to all this craziness, and 2) they hadn't tried so dang hard to make it all "future-y" if you get my drift. We're less than 40 years awat from 2050 right now, and I have yet to see a practical flying car or autonomous robot, so we must have a helluva breakthrough coming around the corner for such things to be so prevalent after the upcoming apocalypse. :P

Daza said...

I bought the whole run of Hex at once and found the series ho-hum until I got to the Giffen issues, then it grabbed my attention.