"The Soames Conspiracy"
Michael Fleisher, story - Mark Texeira and Carlos Garzon, art and cover
The connection to the scanner is acting wonky, so I'll have scans for this issue up next week.
Jonah Hex and Stiletta are completely surrounded by the Conglomerate goons after having defeated Chain and they are led off to who knows where.
Meanwhile in the Needle, Harris is slowly recovering from the biochemical interrogation and is taken back to the statis tubes. The guards start to put Harris into a tube and he suddenly lashes out, beating the crap out of both guards, steals a weapon and attempts to leave the Needle. Except he discovers that the Needle is slightly bigger than he anticipated.
Back at the Conglomerate's country house, Hex and Stiletta are 'guests' of the head of the Conglomerate. The head explains about the global war that contaminated the global drinking supply and how nomad gangs starting taking over various regions. The world was a living hell until Nobel chemist Wilfred Soames, located near Lake Victoria in Tanzania, devised a tablet that would purify a gallon of water almost instantly. Soames had planned on distributing the tablets for free in order to save the world. The Conglomerate had different ideas.
In the US the Conglomerate cornered the market on production and they eventually became the government. Soames (the tablet) eventually became the only excepted form of currency. However, there is a fly in the ointment and the fly is named Reinhold Borsten. The Conglomerate has learned that Borsten plans on dumping a chemical in to the global cloud cover that will neutralize all the radioactivity in the clouds, essentially solving the global radiated water supply.
However, Borsten has to travel into the past to obtain the tools needed to pull this off. The Conglomerate has intel saying that with one more trip, Borsten will be able to complete his plans, purify the global water supply and destroy the soames standard, thus toppling the Conglomerate from controlling the US. Their plan is to stop Borsten by getting Hex back into the Needle, allowing him to use the time machine to return to the 1800's and destroy the machine in the process. They explain that they have a man inside the Needle that will help Hex, but the spy is unable to gain access to the time machine area, whereas Jonah is a 'one-man army'.
In the Needle, Borsten has left the rejuvenation bubble where he was recovering from his last trip to the 2042. A guard enters the room to state that Harris has escaped from the statis tubes. Borsten demands that Harris be recaptured and that he wants his head guard, Brollin, on the job. Another guard explains that Brolin is mourning his father who was a waste-disposal driver murdered by Hex.
We find Brolin at the cemetery, mourning his father and obsessing how he wants revenge for what Jonah Hex has taken from him.
That night we find Stiletta and Jonah Hex in the country house of the Conglomerate talking about the upcoming assault on the Needle. Stiletta says that she'll help get Hex into the Needle because she has business there as well. She had to murder Borsten, her father.
She explains how Borsten worked for the time travel project, learned of the holocaust and made plans to escape to the future. However, he never warned his family of the upcoming devastation. Stiletta was staying with her grandparents in the country, but Borsten's wife was in the city and died in the war. Stiletta assumed that her father was dead as well, but years later she learned the truth and swore to kill her father for what he had done.
In the Needle, the search for Harris continued but Harris has crawled up into the ductwork to hide. However, Harris soons learns that there is something else living in the ductwork of the Needle.....rats!
The next morning, Jonah and Stiletta take off for the Needle, however Jonah explains that he is leaving Stiletta, he can't afford to allow her personal agenda to jeopardize his chance to get back to the past. Stiletta pulls a pistol, demanding that Hex help her but as he takes off she finds herself unable to pull the trigger.
An old rado-scarred bum walks up to the Needle to tell a guard that he has found Jonah Hex and that he wants the 2,000 soames reward (or about $12.14 in today's money). The bum says that he saw Hex hanging out by the old game pier. The guard explains that they have already caught Hex and the reward has been claimed. However, he gives the bum some soames to hold him over. The bum leaves and guard is excited about how he can collect the reward for locating Jonah Hex.
Shortly thereafter, Borsten notifies Brolin of Jonah's location and Brolin takes his men out to capture Hex.
At the Conglomerate, the head gets word that their spy, dressed as an old bum, has notified the Needle of Jonah's location.
So let's go to the game pier, a Coney Island with a horrible 1980's future punk twist. Jonah is suddenly stopped by several hoods who attempt to rob him, but suddenly they are all gunned down by Borsten's men. Jonah takes off running as Borsten's men demand that he give himself up.
Jonah jumps a nearby fence, landing smack in the middle of a demo-derby type tri-motorcycle race. He punches a driver, takes his bike and grabs his shotgun. Jonah kills two guards and crashes through the fence and onto the pier. Suddenly three large vehicles rise from the water and start shooting. Jonah spins the cycle around and two guards on cycles chase after him. They shoot netting at Hex and capture him. However, Jonah speeds up the bike, drawing the two guards closer together until they crash. Smashing through a guardrail, Jonah gets the bike onto the rollercoaster track and heads for high ground.
When he gets near the top, there is a helicopter waiting for him but Jonah locks down the throttle, jumps from the bike and watches as the bike top the hill, becomes airborne and smashes into the chopper. Just then a rollercoaster car with two guards comes up behind Jonah and he dives over the side just as the car slams into the wrecked cycle and chopper. The whole shooting match explodes as Jonah climbs down the side of the coaster track.
Once Jonah reaches the pier, Brolin is waiting for him. Jonah surrenders and holds his hands out get cuffed. However Brolin has not intention of taking Jonah alive and slowly draws a bead on Hex.....
Statistics for this IssueMen Killed by Jonah - 2 with the shotgun, 2 on the cycles, 2 in the chopper and 2 on the rollercoaster for a total of 8
Running Total - 455 (428 past, 27 future)
Jonah's Injuries - none
Timeline - This issue finishes the night and into the next day. Jonah has been in the future for three days.
This was one crazy issue and I loved it. In the last several issues of Jonah Hex, Michael Fleisher had introducing complex overlapping storylines along with fleshing out secondary characters. He continues with the same formula here in Hex. We get Brolin, who we have seen several times before but was never named, who now has a personal reason to kill Hex; Stiletta has a vendetta of her own; the Conglomerate discloses the reason it is opposing Borsten's work; and we get a huge dose of action at the end of the issue. All in all, one of the better stories containing Jonah Hex.
Next Issue: (again, I'll let Mr. Fleisher deliver the pitch on this one) Harris gets eaten by rats, Borsten gets burned alive, and the Needle gets blown to hell!