Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Many Phases of Jonah Hex - The Complex Hex

This phase of Jonah Hex is a hard one to pin down regarding which issue it starts and what issues it covers, but of course, it ends with the end of the Jonah Hex book. It does overlap with the Tragic Hex in many ways and it may actually be more tied to Fleisher's storytelling than any actual change in Jonah Hex himself.

The keynotes of the Complex Hex would be:
  • Long overlapping storylines
  • Growing supporting cast.
In issue #50, not only did Fleisher introduce Emmy Lou Hartley, a woman that Jonah would shun and then turn to, he started a chain of events that would reveal some more of Jonah's past as well as build up a group of people that we would start to care about. It took Jonah from a lone gunman with a friend-of-the-month-who-winds-up-dead-or-betraying-Hex to a man with a circle of influence that would shape and direct his life.

Fleisher started weaving stories together and actually had some story arcs end in the middle of the issue. The exit of Mei Ling tied in with the return of Emmy Lou and then melded into the abduction of Mei Ling. Mei Ling leaving again opened the door for Emmy Lou once again and all of that tied into the Cassie Wainwright revenge storyline that also morphed into the crazy Manitou and slowly ended up with Jonah in jail. Adrian Sterling surfaced once Emmy was abducted and in some stories we had a page of Jonah, a page of Mei Ling, a page of Emmy, a page of J.D. Hart, and a page of Adrian.

While it seemed like a lot was happening, it also seemed like nothing was happening and oddly enough, I loved it. The complex Hex was much more that a book about a scarred bounty hunter, it became the story of his estranged wife, his blonde girlfriend, his Marshall friend that was putting the moves on his wife, two enemies teaming up against him, another crazed lunatic showing up, and girl after girl after girl falling in love with him and he in love with them.

This last point probably is the main point in the complex Hex. The man's life was a whirlwind and I'm sure that during this time his head and heart were a whirlwind as well. His wife leaves, memories of his dead fiance are resurrected and it appears that every blonde in the old west was throwing themselves at him. Hex even ends up leaving "the West" and stay in New Orleans for some time, attempting to 'blend in' to a society, while somewhat uproarious by today's standards, was still decades more refined than anything Jonah had encountered.

Jonah, I think, has learned to suppress his emotions for a very long time as a defense against his father. Mei Ling tapped into those emotions and Jonah started living by his heart rather than his head. Of course, we see the disaster that became of their relationship, so Jonah goes back to living with his head. Until, of course, those emotions start stirring within him once again with the vendetta against the killers of Cassie Wainwright.

It's at this point Jonah re-channels his emotions, moving them from his heart to, shall we say, an organ much lower in the scheme of things. This leads him to Emmy Lou and eventually Adrian Sterling. With Adrian, Jonah suppresses everything that his is, except for his hat, and tries to fit into society. All of this for a relationship that on Adrian's side is a weapon against her former fiance and her father and on Jonah's side is a weak attempt to put away his gun-filled lifestyle (such as what Mei Ling requested of him) in an attempt to convince himself that he was in love when in reality he is in lust.

The Complex Hex is a Hex that entails not only an erratic and unorthodox manner of story-telling, but it entails an erratic and unorthodox manner of looking at the old West and the heart of a ruthless man.

1 comment:

SallyP said...

Nicely done. Boy howdy, it DID seem as though every nubile blonde in the wild wild west was throwing herself at Jonah for a while there, didn't it?

Heck, they STILL do!