Joe E. Lansdale, story - Tim Truman and Sam Glanzman, art and cover
Well, after quite some time (and a little prompting from a certain fangirl) I decided that I HAVE to finish this series, along with the rest of the Vertigo Hex. If you need a recap, you can read
Okay, up to speed? Good. When we last left Jonah, he was in a huge depression in the desert with some soldiers that had been escorting Doc Williams and his band of goons. Now everybody is pinned down by a bunch of rampaging Apaches.
The story starts off with a young Apache child, clutching to a doll, smiling as his dad rubs his head and walks away... to kill all those people in the desert. The Apaches have our 'heroes' pinned down and it is pretty much a shooting gallery with a lot of internal exposition by Jonah himself. Zombie Wild Bill Hickok is standing tall and proud, pulling the triggers endlessly on his six-shooters. Of course, once he is out of bullets, he is pretty ineffectual until Jonah shouts at him to reload. This he does, and starts shooting again.
Eventually there is a lull in the attack and we get to meet the Sarge in charge of this cavalry. The Sarge explains that his men were escorting Williams and his band to protect them from Indians (how THAT came about, we don't learn). Sarge says that without Hex's fine shooting and that strange fella who never misses (except when he runs out of bullets), they would have been goners.
The sun starts to set and Sarge asks if Jonah knows Doc and the freaks. Jonah replies that they were in the church choir together and later they're gonna have a come-to-Jesus- meeting. Sarge says that he would appreciate they hold off on getting religion until AFTER they get out of this hole. As it starts to get dark, smoke rises from beyond a nearby ridge as the Apaches start cooking up the fallen horses of the cavalry. Sarge offers Jonah some chaw and then tries to catch some sleep.
Jonah heads over to talk to Doc (who is taking a dump with Wild Bill wiping Doc's bum). Jonah asks if Doc remembers him and the crazy doctor says that he must be hallucinating, he saw Hex go into the river. Jonah replies that he has a strong stomach and that if the Apaches don't finish off the Doc, Jonah will and since he doesn't know if this band of freaks is alive or dead, he'll teach them dead one more time just to be sure.
Night falls, and under cover of darkness (I always wanted to use that line), the Apache move in. As the Indians get to edge of the hole, gunfire erupts and as the clouds pull away from the moon, we find Doc Williams in his repaired wagon with Stringbean and the Fat Lady pulling it away, Wild Bill shooting out the back and Pumpkin Dwarf trying to repair a wheel.
As the wagon pulls away into the inky blackness, the Apaches close in on the remaining men in the hole. It devolves into hand to hand combat and Jonah and the Sarge manage to make their way out of the hole and onto higher ground. Hex shoots and Indian off his horse and jumps aboard. The Sarge says that he can't leave his command but Jonah reminds him that his command are all dead.
Seeing things in a new light, the Sarge jumps on behind Jonah but manages to get shot in the posterior in the process. They ride until the horse collapses, sometime into the morning, and they are holed up behind some rocks. However, the dust on the horizon indicate that the Apache are closing in. Sarge tells Jonah to leave him but Jonah won't hear of it. Then the Sarge forces Jonah's hand by taking his own life at the end of his pistol.
Jonah realizes that time is short but his horse is almost played out, so he lights a saddle blanket on fire and when it is full ablaze, he swings it underneath the horse to get it up and running. Throughout the rest of the day, Jonah rides the faltering stallion until it finally collapses, dead in the heat. Jonah, near death himself, slices open the horses neck and drinks its blood for sustenance.
Now on foot, what distance he had between himself and the Apaches starts to fade. Finally Jonah comes across Doc Williams Wagon of Miracle and the body of Stringbean. He continues on, seeing some smoke over the ridge and when he makes his way through the rocks he finds...
Here is where I threw up my hands with this series. I understand now that this was supposed to be a horror comic with Jonah wedged inside and I get how Vertigo is all edgy and harsh-toned, but this pushed me over the line.
Jonah finds.... Pumpkin Tom, dead, hanging upside down from a tree over the camp of Doc Williams. Zombie Bill stands by the fire as the Doc tends to the roasting torso of the Fat Lady. We even get to watch the good Doc slice off a piece and bite into it with his fanged teeth.
Hex breaks in to the little 'party' and the Doc orders Hickok to gun down Hex. What transpires next is probably the best dang part of all five issues as the red soulless eyes of Zombie Hickok stare into the brown soulless eyes of Jonah Hex and finally both men fire.
Doc Williams falls to the ground, begging for his life. Jonah states that he won't kill the Doc, he will let the Apaches do that work. Jonah calmly aims his pistol and blows away one of the Doc's kneecaps. Doc starts crying that Jonah promised not to kill him. Jonah replies that he is just helping out the Apache and then shoots out the other kneecap.
Jonah reminds the Doc that since the Apache have a live victim, his death will probably last 3-4 days tops and then Jonah sneaks off into the hills. The Apache advance slowly until they realize how helpless their quarry actually is and then they descend quickly, with years of pent-up hate driving them forward.
Quite some time later Hex is in a saloon, quietly drinking a toast to the dead Doctor. A couple of men at a nearby table recognize Hex and decide to collect the reward being offered in in Texas. As they easily advance upon him, Jonah suddenly pivots on his heal and shoots both men dead. Jonah lights his cigar, asks "Anyone else?" and upon receiving several negative responses, exits the saloon and rides off.
Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - Wow, this is gonna be a hard one. There were soooo many Apache, so let's tally up how many shots we see fired and the actual dying Indians. I count about 16. This is my blog, so I go with 16. Plus the two guys in the saloon will make the total 18.
Running Total - 627 (432 past, 55 future, 33 Vertigo, 117 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - None
Timeline - This issue covers several days.
Once again, this is a Vertigo title, so they do their best to be 'edgy' showing us people defecating and then actually eating the roasting torso of a dead woman. That is the main reason I discount these stories so much. They are too over the top just for the sake of trying to be over the top. Bleh, I don't need that junk.
I did like the story with the odd alliance in the hole, Jonah's relationship with the Sarge and the final showdown between Jonah and Hickok.
Rereading this story made me realize that Neveldine & Taylor, those two men who got paid for the Jonah Hex movie script, were influenced by the Lansdale Hex rather than the Fleisher Hex. They even had a scene from this book in their script (Waving a burning blanket under the horse).
Well, I made it through and I have to admit, it was easier than a colonoscopy. With that said, I think I will jump into the second Vertigo series because I think there are some hidden gems in there to be mined.
I will also continue on with Volume two of Jonah Hex as well. I need to get cracking to catch up with the current series.
Next: I realize that I skipped issue 18, so I head back and face the bear.