"One Wedding and Fifty Funerals"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Luke Ross, art - Giuseppe Camuncoli and Lorenzo Ruggiero, cover
Blood Creek, Texas is engulfed in flame, Jonah Hex marches down the center of main street towards several men waiting with guns.
Hellfire Rains on Texas - Hex fires and the bullet rips through the heart of the first gunman to fall. Jonah dives forward and we follow the path of the second bullet right into the eye of the second to die. Amidst the gunfire, Hex hits the dirt, rolling and firing. Three, four, five and six fall in quick succession and then Hex's guns are empty. A man with a rifle comments that Jonah's luck just ran out.
'Til Death Do Us Part - One week earlier we are the wedding of Peter and Margaret Decker, actually the reception following. Jonah is sitting in the corner of the tent, feet on a table, calmly smoking. Margaret comes over and tells him to have a drink to which Hex declines the offer. Turns out that Hex is waiting for the wedding to be over so that he can take Peter to El Paso even though Peter claims he is innocent.
The married couple open their presents and Decker receives a wonderful rifle from his new bride. Outside, unknown to the wedding party, several masked men with torches approach on horseback. The men hurl the torches onto the tent and as everyone tries to escape the flames, the riders open fire. The newlyweds attempt to escape but Decker is gunned down as he tries to save his wife. She starts yelling at the riders to show their faces and the leader pulls down his kerchief.
It's Brian, a man who claims to have loved Margaret first and warned her not to marry Decker. Brian fires and Hex knocks Margaret to the ground, saving her. Hex opens fire, killing Brian's horse. Brian falls to the ground, grabs up Decker's rifle, steals a horse and rides off.
Innocence in Death - El Paso, the next day. Hex rides into town with the body of Pete Decker and the $500 reward poster. The sheriff looks at the body and states that there is a strong resemblance to the guy they caught at the border yesterday and who confessed to the killing. Seems Decker is an innocent man.The sheriff asks if Hex killed him and Jonah relates the story. The sheriff says that he'll get a statement from Margaret (who came along in a buckboard) and that there will be a new bounty on Brian Albert. Hex says he'll bring him in and the sheriff asks "dead or alive?"
Hex responds, "Since when is alive an option?"
Hunting Through the Mad World - One week later. Brian Albert is riding to escape Hex even as they exchange gunfire. They encounter several dozen people fleeing across the desert, shouting for them not to go to Blood Creek. Darkness falls as the two riders pierce the edge of town and Brian and his mount are gunned down. Jonah's horse is the next to go but Jonah rolls and manages to avoid the deadly onslaught.
Hex lays in the dirt, surrounded by the gunmen and he groans out "I don't know your business here, but you just shot my horse for no good reason. I had no quarrel with you boys but that's all over now."
The men start taunting Hex and he slowly rises to his feet. He states that he isn't the law, he's Jonah Hex and that the man they killed stole something that he intends to take back. The leader says that he hopes it isn't the rifle.
Jonah replies that it is and the leader says that since he found it on a dead man, it is now his. A flunky comes out of a nearby saloon and tosses a torch onto a large pile of dead bodies saying, "Almost done Mr. Redgrave." Darkness has now enveloped the small town. Men are working on a nearby oil derrick and lightning starts dancing on the horizon. Mr. Redgrave tells Hex that he should leave town while he still can, everything will be considered a fair trade.
Thunder rolls into town, pushing the rain ahead of itself. Hex says that Redgrave should give him the rifle and Hex will let everyone live. THAT'S a fair trade. Redgrave bursts into laughter and the lightning slashes across the sky. Hex says that he doesn't care what happened in town, how many people he killed for the oil field, with what Redgrave stands to make he can buy a hundred rifles better than the one they are fighting over. Redgrave tells his men to kill Hex.
Hex pulls back his riding coat, exposing his pistols, saying "There's a choice to be made. You can live rich or you can die right here." They respond "You're scaring no one, mister."
Just then a stray bolt of lightning strikes the tallest structure in town, the oil derrick and the whole thing explodes into Hellfire and damnation! Hex pulls his pistols and starts mowing down Redgrave's men.
Now Where Were We? - Hex is out of bullets and Redgrave notes the irony of Hex being killed with the rifle he wished to possess. Hex reaches into his coat and replies, "That rifle's been nothing but trouble for any man holding it." Jonah has a sheriff star in his hand, he throws it and it catches Redgrave right in the eye.
Bittersweet Returns - Hex rides back with the body of Brian Albert and approaches a cabin as dawn crawls across the sky. He knocks on the cabin door, calling "Mrs. Decker? It's Jonah Hex." There is no answer and Hex goes inside. He gets to the bedroom and finds Margaret Decker in her wedding gown in bed....dead. A note leans against a bottle of poison. Hex picks up the note and...
He places two coins over her eyes and takes the body of Brian Albert into El Paso.
Statistics for This IssueMen Killed by Jonah - Whew! This one is going to be tough because of the flashback/flash forward. At the beginning we see six men go down, Hex kills a man during the wedding raid, and it looks like four more when we get back to Blood Creek. Add in Redgrave and that makes 12. I'll go with that unless Palmiotti and Gray say otherwise.
Running Total - 546 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 44 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Horse shot out from under him.
Timeline - No particular date but this one covers about a week
Rape Percentage - 2 out of 7 (29%)
I honestly have to say that I had no idea what the reference to St. Roch was and had to look it up to learn about the tie-in to Nighthawk (aka Hawkman) who was once the sheriff there.
I enjoyed the story as it had a few nice bits but I had read some other folks that felt the derrick explosion was a bit of a stretch, there only to give Hex a distraction to exploit. I enjoyed the layout of the story, starting off with the full blown action and then jumping back in time and finally getting us right back to where we started. I was also very fond of Hex's response to the suicide note. We never see the note, making his response even more priceless.
That is one thing that really shines in this renewed Jonah Hex, the story structure is never boring. Palmiotti and Gray are constantly looking for new ways to spin a yarn and for the most part they succeed.
Oddly enough, this issue was actually solicited with a different cover that was probably considered too bloody for the comics rack.
Next Issue - Four, count 'em, four new artists and we see a slow rise in a certain percentage.