Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #10 "Gator Bait"

Jonah Hex V2 #10 Oct, 2006
"Gator Bait"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Phil Noto, cover and art

Gone Too Far South - Black Swamp, Louisiana. A wooden shack built over a swamp and we see a man, Flint, dumping a body into the water and gators feasting upon it. A large retarded man, Dewey, sits on the porch along with an old woman called "Ma", gleefully watching the carnage. Flint mentions that "the Negro" got away but "Dean stuck him good". As the three of them watch the gators eating the body tossed into the water, Flint asks about "the whore". "Ma" responds that the girl is lost to the sins of the flesh so they should just wipe her off and let the boys preoccupy themselves with her.

Last Request of a Dying Man - An injured African American rides into town and falls of his horse just as Jonah Hex exits a saloon. The man begs Hex for help,  saying that "they" have his wife, baby, and best friend and begs for retribution. Hex states that retribution comes at a price. The man says that they were on their way to Oklahoma and hands over a deed to Hex. Hex tells him they will pay in blood for what they done and the man dies with a Thank You on his lips.

Later that night Hex is in a poker game and ends up busted. Leaving the game, Hex is stopped by a question from another player, asking if there is anything of value that Hex could put up as a stake to return to the game. Jonah pulls the deed from his coat, reads it and then returns it and leaves. Hex is walking down the dark street and overhears the constable talking to the undertaker.

The constable voices concern as to why he should venture into the swamp based on the word of a dead Negro. The undertaker says that he only builds boxes, he has no thoughts concerning the Lamont family. Hex interrupts, asking if the box contains the man from that afternoon. They acknowledge that it does and that this is no business of Hex's. Jonah calls them cowards and idiots because they don't see the opportunity before them. All the constable has to do is place a bounty on the Lamonts and he will be a hero come election time, with no endangerment to himself. The constable sees the wisdom in the words.

The Jaws of Death - Hex is making his way through the trees of the swamp and comes upon a marker, an arrow made of rocks. He climbs a cypress and spies the cabin in the distance and we hear a voice behind him. It is a man with a shotgun, saying that Hex is pretty good at trackin' but since he ain't from the swamp, he can't move about silent, like swamp folk. The man introduces himself as Dean Lamont. He asks for Hex's name, but Jonah says they won't know each other long enough for that to matter. Dean forces Jonah to head onward to the cabin.

As they approach, the whole Lamont family is on the porch, Flint, Ma, Dewey, and four others. Flint asks Dean what he has there and Dean replies "Dinnah". They take Hex to the back porch, overlooking the swamp and the gators. Ma asks Hex if he thinks her pet gators are cute. Jonah says that he came across a colored fella and explains the story. Ma says they did stop by and she guesses that Hex is here per the man's request.

Jonah wants to know where the mother and child are. Flint grins and says the mother is inside. The half-breed Negro baby was a tasty snack for the gators. They force Jonah backwards toward the porch railing, Flint on one side, Ma on the other. Flint pulls his knife and suddenly Jonah throws himself backward, grabbing Ma and Flint, taking them both with him into the swamp water.

Dewey starts clapping and laughing, cheering the gators on. Hex pulls Ma and Flint deeper, throwing Ma into the path of one gator and then wresting the knife from Flint's hand. He stabs Flint in the chest and then wedges Flint's corpse into the mouth of a second gator. Hex dives under again and takes a gator head on, stabbing it repeatedly in the head and then surfacing across the swamp and dragging himself onto the shore.

Across the swamp, Hex can hear the screams of the family and the cheers and laughs of Dewey. Dean garbs his shotgun and screams at Dewey to shut up. Dewey grabs the barrel of the shotgun and says he don't feel so good. Dewey suddenly vomits all over himself and Dean, repulsed, inadvertently pulls the trigger, blowing Dewey's head clean (more or less) off.

Lessons From the Cheyenne - Later, Dean is leading the rest of  Lamont family in a toast of remembrance of Ma and Flint. Dean tells the others to open the crate. As Jonah creeps up outside he overhears Dean say that maybe the girl can soothe their troubled hearts in this time of despair. One of the family observes that the girl is no longer right in the head. Another of them says he can't stand her vacant stare..go get a sack to put over her head.

Suddenly the front door swings open and Jonah Hex, dripping wet, stands silhouetted in the doorway. Dean and the others are frozen and the door swings shut. From outside the cabin we hear the carnage and hell that Jonah Hex visits upon the Lamonts.

All we get to see is...

The house is now on fire and Jonah is leading the blindfolded victim out of the house. He says that she doesn't need to see what he visited upon them. He says he ain't much for conversation but she has probably crawled deep inside herself, so it don't matter nohow. They aren't 100% square for the death of the baby, but it's the best he could do.

As they stand there, watching the cabin burn, Hex hands the deed over to the woman and says that when she is ready to go, he'll be at the horse.

Statistics for This Issue
Men killed by Jonah - 7 people and one gator. (Dewey was killed by Dean)
Running Total - 567 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 65 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Probably some scrapes from the gator fight.
Timeline - A day and night at the start, probably not too long to track down the Lamonts. Let's say two-three days, tops.
Rape Percentage - 40% (4 out of 10)

This was one sick sick story. The level of sickness, depravity, and evil exhibited by the Lamonts has to be some of the worst in comics (but don't worry folks, we have 60 more issues to get through and Jimmy and Justin push the envelope even further).  The punishment handed out by Hex was, by my estimation, no where near enough, but judgement of that level can only be meted out by God.

I can't say that I enjoyed this issue. The story was good, but it was just a little too twisted for me. I have to admit, the older I get, the less tolerant I am of sick evil deviant behavior in 'entertainment'. Also, I'm still trying to figure out the details regarding the land deed. It appears to be signed by Andrew Jackson (President 1829-1837) and it was stated that it was for land in Oklahoma (first opened for settlement in 1889). Deeds weren't handed out in the Land Runs, one staked a claim and then obtained the deed, so if our victim had a deed and was heading to Oklahoma, he would have had to obtained it from someone else so the earliest this story could have taken place would have been early summer of 1889.

But what did Jackson have to do with it? I can hear you say "NOTHING! It was artistic license on Noto's part." I know, but stuff like that drives me crazy!!

Next Issue - The Fallout from Issue #1 and we learn that this Hex is IN the DCU!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #9 "Gettin' Unhaunted"

Jonah Hex V2 #9 Sept. 2009
"Gettin' Unhaunted"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, story - Tony DeZuniga, art and cover

Ambushed - We see several Indians riding along and then we find Jonah Hex crouched in an shelter of rocks, a dead Indians next to him, an arrow sticking through his right arm, another in his left leg, and blood pouring from his wound.  A small girl in a green dress walks up to Hex and he addresses her by name and asks her what is wrong. He mentions that things are worse than he thought and he reaches behind himself and breaks off the fletching from the arrow in his arm.

He then tells her not o watch and Hex pulls the rest of the arrow out through the front of his arm. Adele, the girl, holds the bloody arrow and then snaps it in two. She helps Hex dress his arm but the arrow in his leg has hit the bone. Hex loads Adele upon his horse, mounts up and they ride off across the desert. They keep riding until they come upon a hogan.

Spirit Walker - As they approach, an Indian woman steps out with a rifle stating that Death rides with Hex. Jonah collapses at the Indian's feet, saying that he can shoot Hex if he likes but just give the girl some water. Hex passes out and the woman drags him into the hogan. She starts performing a ceremony and Jonah slips into a delirium. We are then treated to a flashback:

Jonah rides into Fair Oaks, looking for Clete Abrahams. Adele walks up and asks Jonah about his face. Hex tells her to leave but she persists in her questioning. She asks if she can touch the scar and Hex lets her. Suddenly Adele's mom shows up and demands that Hex leave the girl alone. A crowd shows up and things get tense with folks demanding that Hex leave.

Just then Abrahams and two of his mob walk out of the saloon. Hex calls him out and the three men draw down on Hex. Jonah reaches to his horse and grabs his sabre, slicing two men open as their shots go wild. Abrahams fires again and this bullet glances off the blade. Jonah runs the blade through Abrahams and we hear Adele's mom scream.

Hex turns to find the little girl clutched in her mom's arms. Jonah yells for someone to get a doctor and then starts to dig out the bullet using his sword. He gets the bullet out as the doctor shows up. Adele asks why Jonah killed those men and then she dies.

Hex stands up and walks into the saloon, orders a bottle of whiskey and sits there drinking for two hours. Adele's mom storms in with Hex's sword. Hex looks up from the table and says that he'll give her one swing. She brings the sword crashing down, missing Hex. Hex pulls his pistol and draws a bead on her but the townsfolk have come in, guns drawn,  and Hex falls backward into a drunken stupor. The people start kicking Hex's fallen form and Adele's mom grabs up the sword but the people grab her and hold her back.

Visit with the Dead - Present day. It's night and Jonah finds himself among a cluster of boulders. A rattlesnake advances towards him and he shoots the snake's head off. He grabs it up, cuts off a chunk and wolf's it down and then rides until dawn, into the town where he encounters the town drunk. At gunpoint he steals the bottle from the drunk and then rides on to the town cemetery, to the grave of Adele Burns.

Just then a bullet strikes the bottle as Hex takes a draw on it. Adele's mom states that she has missed every time for the past four years. She says that there has to be a bullet with his name on it and then they have this exchange.

She leads Hex back to her cabin and in bed Jonah relates the story of being ambushed by the Indians. Just then three men enter the cabin, guns drawn, and Adele's mom states that some folks would pay handsomely for a chance to put a bullet into the famous Jonah Hex. The men pay her and they haul Hex off into the desert.

As they ride along....

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - We see two dead Indians at the start and he kills three men during the flashback. 5 total
Running Total - 560 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 58 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Arrow in the right arm, arrow in the right leg, massive blood loss and probably dehydration.
Timeline - With the flashback, this one covers four years.
Rape Percentage - 33% ( 3 out of 9)

Wow, where do I start with this issue? How about the cover? Black and white with that beautiful slash of red blood, leading up to the DC logo and the title. All of that makes this stand out on the comic rack. The interior artwork by DeZuniga is much more stylized than his work from decades ago and it works great here. We're never really sure if we are seeing reality or suffering through Jonah's dreams and delusions. The panel of Adele holding the bloody arrow is especially haunting.

The story gives us such depth of Jonah Hex, showing us a slightly tender side with his exchange with Adele, the wild desperation as he performs surgery, his rampant alcoholism, and his absence of morality as he beds Adele's mom. The appearance of the vision of Adele makes me wonder if this is actually some form of self imposed penance that Hex's brain is foisting upon him around this time every year. The icing on the cake is the fantastic double cross at the end, bringing to mind the idea that Hex did this as a way to free Adele's mom from her prison of suffering while he will remain in his own hell.

My verdict? One of the best issues of the entire seventy issue run and a must read.

Next Issue - GATORS!!!! oh, and, um.......rape (but not gator rape. That's icky!)