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 IssueMen 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!)