Showing posts with label Jonah Hex Vol 2. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jonah Hex Vol 2. Show all posts

Monday, March 03, 2014

Jonah Hex V2 #19 "Texas Money"

Jonah Hex #19 V2 Jul '07

"Texas Money"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Phil Noto, art and cover

Looking For A Bad Man Texas, Jonah rides into town and finds a large ring of folks surrounding a big burly man who is wielding a knife. Jonah asks what is going on and one man replies that it's a Mexican Tug of War. The man with the knife is calling everyone all kinds of names for coward. Hex asks one guy if he is going to take up the challenge of a fight. The man declines and Hex replies that the man in the circle has everyone bluffed. Hex grabs his tomahawk and enters the ring, demanding an explanation. The man explains that he works for another man looking to hire someone with enough sand to do a difficult job.

A Deal is Struck - Jonah is led into a nearby saloon and introduced to the owner, Mr. Parks. Jonah asks for the details and Parks starts in on a long winded story. Jonah asks if he is going to get to the point. Parks declares that he is not one to be talked to in such a manner. Hex starts to walk out saying to send for him when the stories are over. Parks says that he needs some men found and killed.

Jonah asks how much. Parks replies with three thousand in gold. Two of his nephews were kidnapped. Jonah is surprised that THAT amount of money wasn't enough to stir any of the townsfolk into action. Parks explains that he does have men working for him that could do it, but they are conducting other business for him. He has been expecting a ransom note, but none has been forthcoming.

Hex smells something wrong and asks how long the nephews have been gone. Three days. Jonah asks for a list of Parks enemies. Parks is taken aback at the accusation but Jonah insists that a man as powerful as Parks has made at least a few enemies. Parks admits that he has used his money to smooth over some infractions that the nephews have instigated. Hex takes his leave and Parks offers the aide of his man, Hector (the knife guy). Hex declines and leaves.

Madam Blood's Treasure - Kansas, one month later. Madam Blood helps a cowboy named Tom Leverlock into her bedroom. He is boasting of several things, his rich zinc find, his way with the women, and how handsome he is. While she distracts him with her feminine wiles, she pulls a small derringer and shoots him in the head, taking all of his money.

As she is going through the dead man's pockets, one of her girls walks into the room. Madam Blood pitches a fit and fires the girl on the spot. She then yells downstairs for Samson, her huge mentally handicapped flunky. She orders him to dispose of the body in the abandoned Creedis mine with the others and to be sure to go out the back.

The fired callgirl is standing outside and watches everything that Samson does. After some inner reflection, she goes directly to the sheriff's office.

We cut to the inside of a mine. Hex, the sheriff, a few deputies, and a handcuffed Samson are looking at the decomposing bodies. The sheriff states that Blood has been doing this for years and it appears that over twenty men have fallen victim to her. They were able to locate the mine with Samson's aid. The sheriff hands over a wanted poster for Blood and Hex says that he'll take the job, but first they have to wrap up their other business, then he'll be heading back to Texas.

Pay Attention To Details - Texas, one month later. Hex rides into the Texas town pulling a wagon with two coffins. Parks comes out and demands to see inside. Hex demands his money. Hector opens the coffins and Parks said that the deal for the money was that Hex bring in the men responsible for this. Hex explains only one man is responsible for what Parks sees, Hex himself.

Parks is stunned and demands to know who Hex is. Hector, along with several men in the shade of a nearby building explain that he is Jonah Hex, a bounty hunter, cold-blooded Confederate, and Apache raised abomination.

Hex demands his money. Parks wants to know why he should pay the man that killed his nephews. Jonah states that the state of Kansas killed the nephews after a fair trial and it took a little bit of extra work (of which Parks will pay more for) to get the bodies out of Kansas. Parks pulls a pistol and Jonah grabs Parks windpipe.

Hector and the men by the building pull their weapons and tell Hex to let go. Jonah demands his money. Hector tells Parks to pay Hex and Parks shouts that he will pay THEM the three thousand to kill Hex. Hector states that money does the dead no good.

Parks gets the money and pays Hex and then Jonah rides off. Parks tells Hector that he wants revenge on Hex and Hector strikes a deal. If he gets cut in as a full partner in all of Parks dealings, then he is on the job.

Blood runs Cold - The Oklahoma, three weeks later. I'm assuming they mean the Oklahoma territory. Jonah rides into town, locates the nearest woman and says that he is looking for a woman. She says that SHE is a woman and Jonah shows her the wanted poster. The woman says that Blood came into town a week ago, set up in the Rio, and run off a couple of girls working there. Nobody would miss Blood if she was to be gone. Hex tosses her some money and tells her to take the night off.

As Jonah approaches the Rio, he is approached in turn by one of the workers. He shrugs her off and goes inside. He flashes the wanted poster and Blood sees him from the upper floor railing. She shouts for her goons to kill Hex and as the gunfight breaks out, everyone scatters and Jonah tosses a Molotov cocktail across the room, lighting up the place like the Fourth of July. 

With Bloods men shot or running away, Jonah walks through the burning building and heads up the stairs. He spies Blood attempting to escape across the porch roof and he shoots her in the leg, pitching her off the roof and into a horse trough. He holds her under water until she cools off.

Public Service Free of Charge - Hex and Blood are in a mine and Blood is tied up. Blood says that she has gold hid, a lot more than what Hex will get paid for bringing her in, and Hex is SUPPOSED to bring her in. Jonah replies that he got Texas money just this week.

Blood starts screaming that he can't leave her to starve. What did she ever do to him? Jonah replies:

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 4. Three of Blood's men and Blood herself
Running Total 609 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 117 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - None
Timeline - This issue covers a few months and has to take place around 1890.
Rape Percentage - 37% (7 out of 19) 

This issue was pretty good. So good, in fact, that it was made into a DC Showcase cartoon that followed the Madam Blood storyline. 

The 1890 time is from the fact that Oklahoma became a territory in 1890. It was called Oklahoma prior to that, but it was mostly referred to as The Unassigned Lands. In 1879 it was illegal to reside within the borders of the Unassigned Lands and after a long battle, Land Runs were set up and folks started settling in 1889. So I'm sticking with 1890 or thereabouts.

I do enjoy Noto's work, but some of stuff seems so machine-like. The wallpaper in Parks office and the lettering on building signs has that 'nice' computer generated feel to it. Bleh. Also, some of the folks in the book all look the same, only distinguishable by facial hair. Heck, half the time I couldn't tell that Hector was Hector.

So I give the story higher marks than the artwork. Also, re-reading this issue, I noticed a joke that Jonah made prior to entering the brothel in Oklahoma. It's subtly and a little too tasteless for me to explain here. I'm  ashamed of a couple of things. First, that I understood it and second, that I didn't get it until rereading it six years later.

Next - Vultures, Wolves, and the return of......

Friday, June 14, 2013

Jonah Hex #17 V2 "The Ballad of Tallulah Black: Part 2"

Jonah Hex #17 V2 May '07

"The Ballad of Tallulah Black: Part 2"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Phil Noto, art and cover

Twice as Mean and Twice as Ugly - We open with a little target practice. A man stands with his arms outstretched, a bottle in each hand, a wanted poster (of him) pinned to his chest. Hex is using the man to train Tallulah how to shoot. Finally Hex instructs the man to place a bottle on his head and then straps a gun belt on him. Hex instructs the man that he can shoot Tallulah, but she HAS to shoot the bottle before she shoots him.

The man draws and the bottle topples from his head, Tallulah takes a bullet in the leg and shoots the bottle and the man with one shot. Hex has her strip off he pants and he sears the wound with a heated knife (since the bullet passed through).

Later the night, the dead man lying nearby, Tallulah and Jonah are sitting by the campfire and she starts questioning Jonah, Is he ever gonna hang up his guns, why not just become a sheriff, is there a woman and a farm in his life? Jonah puts an end to the questioning and goes to sleep. Tallulah sits there staring at Hex and slowly reaches out to him. Jonah tells her to go to sleep and she responds with venom at being rejected.

That night Tallulah has nightmares of being raped and disfigured and Jonah eventually has to slap her awake and then they find themselves in an a lovers embrace.

Been a Long Time Comin' - Next day, Hex is dragging the dead man behind his horse and Tallulah is riding alongside. She wears a bandanna over her face and then dismounts and goes into the saloon while Jonah collects his bounty. She walks up to the bar and inquires of seven men, former Rebs now working for the government. The barkeep keeps asking questions and finally Tallulah pulls down the bandana and announces that she is in the company of one Jonah Hex and she aims to have her vengeance. Just then the men in question come strolling down the stairs, full of liquor and accompanied by 'ladies' . 

Tallulah finishes her drink, turns and opens fires, killing three men and wounding a woman. She turns and heads into the street, luring the remaining four out into the open. She quickly dispatches one as Hex and the sheriff come out onto the boardwalk. The sheriff starts to intervene but Hex wards him off.

Tallulah takes one in the shoulder and Jonah shoots a man (who had snuck up behind Tallulah) in the back. She kills one more and finally it is just she and the ringleader. He shoots her in the leg and then they are both out of bullets. He starts to plead for his life and she starts to reload. He spies a pistol dear one of his dead partners and he lunges forward, grabs it and shoots Tallulah in the gut. He starts to crawl away toward another gun but she shoots him twice and he falls backwards. She stands over him and then falls down herself.

Hex picks her up and takes her to the doctor.

On the Spirit Trail - The doctor does what he can and then Hex pays him to go to the saloon and leave them be. Jonah goes inside and starts talking to Tallulah...

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 1
Running Total 605 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 113 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - None
Timeline - This issue starts 3 months from last issue (this comes out during the campfire discussion) and covers a few days.
Rape Percentage - 41% (7 out of 17) 

This was one great issue and one of the high points was the relationship between Hex and Tallulah. The tension between Hex treating her like a human and like a pain in the ass teetered back and forth throughout the issue. The ending with the young girl being in the dream made one wonder if the girl was Death or just Tallulah's innocence. Of course, when we get to issue 70 even more questions are raised regarding the little girl.

Next Issue - Bear steaks, Mystery Meat and never get involved in a domestic dispute.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Jonah Hex #16 V2 "The Ballad of Tallulah Black"

Jonah Hex #16 V2 Apr '07
"The Ballad of Tallulah Black"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Phil Noto, art and cover

The Cruel Kindness of Children - A young girl is fishing and pulls in her catch. She calmly takes a rock and smashes in the fish's skull and then heads out. She comes upon Jonah Hex. Hex is leaning against a tree, watching a man that he has hung slowly strangle to death. The girls asks if Hex hung him and if he will cut him down. Jonah says that the man brought it on himself and that he promised Hex his boots. The girl states that it isn't very Christian of Hex and then she jumps up and grabs the man by the feet, hanging her full weight on him and thus snapping his neck. Hex replies with "They teach ya that in church?" and the girl heads on home.

The Ballad of Tallulah Black - Seven men stand in front of a log cabin, holding the entire family in their crosshairs. They state that homesteaders should have surrendered their land and they are here to take it. A woman comes out of the cabin and starts berating the gunmen as cowards and the ring-leader starts by shooting the family. The woman rushes at the men and they shoot her in the left eye, dropping her to the ground. The men burn the house and then ride off to tell the "Sergeant" that the land has been abandoned.

Time passes and the woman, Tallulah, opens her eye after being poked awake by the little girl that was fishing. The girl invites Tallulah home for supper, but Tallulah declines, saying she has bodies to bury. The girl leaves, warning that there is a bad man in the woods.

One year later - Several men walk into a bordello and they recognize Tallulah from their earlier encounter. She now has an eye patch and is doped up, sitting on a couch. Simon, the leader, indicates that he would like to have Tallulah for the night but the Madam suggests someone more lively. Simon insists and then takes Tallulah upstairs, throwing her on the bed. Tallulah can't tell if she understands her reality and when Simon assures her that he is real, she attacks him, scratching deep gouges in his face. He punches her and then drags her around the room by the hair before pulling a knife  and then everything goes black.

Tallulah wakes up to see the Madam and the doctor standing over her.

Time Doesn't Heal All Wounds - Three weeks later.  Tallulah stands in front of a mirror, her face a jigsaw of scars and the madam telling her of a man who is "a killer to the manner born" (I LOVE how Justin and Jimmy write dialogue!). She gives Tallulah some money and a pistol and the advice that this man, Jonah Hex might take pity on her since she is now as scarred as he.

Three more weeks later. Three men are hidings amongst some rocks hollering that they KNOW that Hex is out there. While they are weighing their options a stick of dynamite comes tumbling over the outcropping of rock and explodes below them, shearing off the ledge where they were perched. They fall backwards into the canyon, one getting his head crushed along the way. Hex walks up...

We next see Tallulah sitting under the remnants of a tree when three men atop two horses comes riding by. They are running from Hex and they stop and quickly rob Tallulah of her horse.

Out of the Frying Pan - Tallulah, now forced to walk across the desert, stumbles upon a ramshackle town and falls, literally, into the general store. The storekeeper bends down as if to take care of her....

Tallulah wakes up to finds herself tied, spread-eagle, on a bed and clothed in large dress. She hollers for release and the storekeeper walks in and says...

Just then a customer comes into the store and the storekeeper exits to tend to them. Meanwhile Tallulah attempts to gnaw away her bonds and then starts screaming for help. The storekeeper tells the patron that his wife is sick in the head, fighting her way against the evils of liquor. A pistol is placed against the storekeeper's head and the patron demands to see the "wife".

The storekeeper walks into the room, followed closely behind by Jonah Hex and his pistol. Hex cuts Tallulah loose, hands the knife to her and exits the room. A few minutes later, Tallulah emerges from the store, blood staining every inch of the dress. She determines that her savior is, in fact, Jonah Hex and offers him a few hundred dollars to kill the seven men that destroyed her family and her life.

Hex turns down her offer because the men aren't wanted and it ain't enough money for seven men. Tallulah states that she wants to learn how to kill them, not have Hex do it for her. Jonah ain't interested. She says that what they done to her is even worse under her clothes but...

To which Jonah responds "We're gonna have ta work on yore aim."

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 3
Running Total - 604 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 112 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - None
Timeline - This issue covers a year and six weeks
Rape Percentage - 43% (7 out of 16)

An incredibly cruel story with some odd undertones that won't become apparent until issues 50 and 70 regarding the identity of the little girl.

And what can we say about Tallulah? A beautiful strong woman who is brutalized in ways that would drive most people into madness and who eventually will almost steal the limelight away from Jonah Hex in his own book. She is probably one of the strongest supporting characters to have come into comics in the past 10 years and sadly, in the Jonah Hex movie, she was reduced to a groan inducing fanboy Easter Egg.

This is a great story, difficult to read at times because of the terror visited upon Tallulah, and it is definitely a turning point in the story of Hex.

Next Issue: If it is even possible, things turn uglier than they already are.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jonah Hex #15 V2 "Retribution, Part 3 of 3"

Jonah Hex #15 V2 Mar '07
"Retribution, Part 3 of 3"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Jordi Bernet, art and cover

Wilcox Apache Internment Camp, 1868 - We see several soldiers abusing the Indians that have been placed in their charge when suddenly a rifle cracks and men start falling. We find Jonah Hex up in the overlooking crags carefully drawing a bead time and again, dropping the soldiers with little to no effort.  Finally Jonah rides into the fort with a wagon and addresses a very large Indian, Widow Maker. They exchange mild threats/greetings and it is revealed that they are old friends.

Jonah is there to enlist Widow Maker's help in killing Col Ackerman because Ackerman has killed the Apache tribe that bought Jonah. Widow Maker asks if it is the same tribe that scarred Jonah's face.

The Mark of The Demon - Jonah slowly rides towards the pueblo that he used to call home. When he arrives White Fawn greets him and says that Noh-Tante had said that Jonah was dead...things have changed. Then we learn that Noh-Tante and White Fawn are married. Jonah tells the chief of the chief's son's betrayal and lies and then challenges Noh-Tante to a battle to determine who is telling the true.

A friend of Noh-Tante provides the tomahawks and points out which one is damaged. Noh-Tante instructs him to be sure that Hex gets the faulty tomahawk. The battle begins and during the fight Jonah's tomahawk breaks forcing him to pull a knife to defend himself after Noh-Tante gloats that he knew of the faulty handle.

Unfortunately, Jonah kills Noh-Tante before the rest of the tribe can hear the confession. The penalty for cheating in a battle is death, however, since Jonah is a son of the chief, he shall not die. He will be branded so that the world will always know that Jonah carries the Mark of The Demon.

On the Warpath - Jonah demands an answer from Widow Maker who pledges the power of himself and his men. They ride off with Widow Maker asking if more men will join them. Hex replies in the negative.

Blood-Splattered Moon - Hex and Widow Maker hide in the rocks outside another fort. Hex points out the Gatling guns on the wall and says that they must be turned inward if they are to win.

Inside, Ackerman is questioning his men on the lack of word on the shipment of guns he is expecting from Fulsome. Ackerman instructs his fellows to dispatch someone to find Fulsome in the morning and then asks how the recruiting is going. During the discussion we learn that Ackerman's plan is to raise up an army and venture forth into Mexico, destroying Mexicans and Apaches and eventually becoming a sovereign nation.

A soldier enters and tells Ackerman that someone is there to see him.... Jonah Hex. Ackerman asks if Hex is alone and to have him carefully disarmed and brought in. Hex explains that he came to inform them that Fulsome and his gang are dead and that the guns have been 'distributed accordingly'.  Ackerman demands that Jonah get to the point and Hex tells him that Ackerman slaughtered an Apache camp not too long ago. Jonah wants to know why.

Ackerman states that he needs no reason to slaughter savages, what were they to Hex. Jonah explains that they were his family and he is here to avenge them. Ackerman tells his men to prepare for an attack and one man leaves. As he opens the door he is shot dead and we find the Apache storming the fort.

Jonah breaks out his knuckles and takes on Ackerman and the other man in the room. The Apache have topped the walls and Widow Maker is having free reign in the fort. Hex stabs the second man and Ackerman pulls his pistol but misses. The fight becomes hand to hand with Ackerman gripping Hex by the throat, choking the life from him. Jonah digs his thumbs into Ackerman's eyes, blinding him and then breaks a chair over his head, finally grabbing a busted chair leg and stabbing Ackerman to death with it.

Widow Maker bursts in just in time to prevent a soldier from shooting Hex. Widow Maker offers Jonah a chance to head to Mexico with he and his men but Jonah says that he ain't a joiner...not anymore. Widow Maker asks what Jonah will do. Jonah says he will continue doing what he's doing.

Finally Jonah rides off, declining the large Indian's offer of some of the gold they found in the fort.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 6 in the fort, Noh-Tante,  Ackerman and his toady for a total of 9
Running Total - 601 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 109 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Choked, kicked, punched
Timeline - 1868, flashback to 1866. The flashback covers a day. Current day, maybe a day or two.
Rape Percentage - 40% (6 out of 15, steadily going down)

All in all, a good Jonah adventure with a nice dose of origin and some healthy action at the end. There were several nice touches in the dialogue and Bennet's artwork fits in very very nicely. It was enjoyable to see the origin through the eyes of the J's and then did a fine job.

Next Issue - Things get really nasty and we get a double dose of ugly on top of it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jonah Hex #14 V2 "Retribution, Part 2 of 3"

Jonah Hex #14 V2 Feb '07
"Retribution, Part 2 of 3"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Jordi Bernet, art and cover 

Fathers and Sons Jonah Hex walks into a bar and sits down with his back to the wall, facing the only door. The local deputy asks the sheriff "Was that?" and the sheriff replies that the deputy better tell the Reverend to dust off his Bible. Shortly a young boy enters the bar and walks up to a lone man leaning on the bar, drinking. The boy entreats his father to come home for supper. The man turns on the boy, but the boy persists and finally the man slaps his son to the floor as we get a very close look at Jonah Hex watching the entire drama.

Greeley, Colorado, 1851 - Jonah, as a young boy is watching his father, Woodson, load up the covered wagon. Jonah is wanting to know why they have to leave and Woodson crawls out of the wagon and kicks Jonah into the dirt. He yanks the boy up by the hair and tells him to never question him again. He continues to verbally abuse Jonah until Jonah spits in his old man's face.

Woodson knocks him to the ground an Jonah lunges for Woodson's pistol. The father breaks a bottle over Jonah's skull and then drags him to the outhouse, lifts the seat and throws his son down into the gut wrenching filth. Throughout the night Jonah tries to crawl out, falling back time after time. When he finally emerges from the outhouse, he is greeted by darkness and his father sitting there with a pistol trained on him. Woodson hands Jonah the pistol and the chance to rid himself of the abusive father forever, but Jonah only stares at him silently. Woodson gives forth some words to live by and then tells Jonah to clean up, they leave for California in the morning.

Black Hills Apache Territory, Arizona, 1851 - Jonah and Woodson pull up to a pueblo in the wagon. He begs the Apache for safe passage through their land and is told that the toll must be paid in either gold or blood. Woodson says that he aims to make his fortune in California and return to Colorado to reclaim his lost farm. Woodson glances at Jonah, the son he has never wanted and has always hated and then kicks Jonah from the wagon, stating that the Apache can have him and do with him as they see fit. Woodson will return in six months and buy Jonah back three-fold.

A medicine man stares at Jonah, whispers some incantation and the Apache tell Woodson that they have a deal.

The Black Hills, Two Years Later - Jonah is out chopping wood when he hears a scream. He finds the chief being mauled by a puma, which Jonah quickly dispatches with the axe. Jonah then helps the chief back to camp and help. Because he saved the life of the chief, Jonah is elevated from slave to son of the chief and is looked upon lovingly by White Fawn. As they walk in the moonlight, they are approached by Noh-Tante, the chief's real son. Noh-Tante has no good feelings towards Jonah and tells him that the chief wants the two of them to raid a traveling Kiowa camp of their ponies.

They both head off into the darkness and Jonah makes short work of the lone sentry. Noh-Tante grabs the ponies and then trows a knife into Jonah's left leg and then sounds an alarm. Several Kiowa come rushing out and Jonah single-handedly kills the entire tribe.

Present Day - The man in the bar pulls a knife on the boy and the bartender is trying to diffuse the situation. The man pulls his pistol on the bartender and Jonah lifts his own pistol and tells the man to drop the knife. The man turns and growls that it ain't Hex's business. Jonah replies "It is now." and places a single bullet right above the man's eyes. He falls to the floor dead and.....

The boy grabs his father's pistol and aims at Jonah's back as Hex leaves the bar. The boy pauses and then drops the gun into the pool of his father's blood.

Hex is now on the street and six armed men approach, demanding that Jonah take them to where he has hidden Col. Ackerman's weapons. Things escalate and one man tells Hex that he will kill hex and he is dead serious. Hex replies "Got that partly right". (Yeah, I actually laughed at that line) A huge gunfight results and Jonah shoots five of the six men. The last one is about to shoot Jonah in the back when a bullet suddenly rips through the man's leg. He falls into the street as the boy from the bar walks out with a smoking pistol.

The boy says to Hex "You're welcome." Hex then finishes off the wounded man and walks down the street to his horse.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 6 in the street, 1 in the bar, 10 Kiowa, and a Puma (I'm not counting the puma) for a total of 17
Running Total - 592 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 100 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Knife in the leg, slapped, punched, bottle to the head, kick to the ribs, thrown into an outhouse.
Timeline - Well, 1868, flashback to 1851 and 1853. The flashback covers a few months and then a day. Current day; about 15-30 minutes.
Rape Percentage - 42% (6 out of 14)

Man o man o man. This one stays very very true to the original origin and does tie back into the Ackerman revenge storyline, but over all the absolute best panels are the two where Jonah kills the drunken father in the bar and considers it a favor to the boy.

In the boy, Hex saw everything that he was and knew what would become of the lad if he didn't intervene. I can only imagine Hex was wishing that someone seventeen years earlier would have done the same and rescued him from the hell that lived/lives.

Again, Justin and Jimmy produce a book that demands to be read out loud, with the framing captions ringing in the ear so very much like actual texts from that era.

Next Issue - Jonah returns to the Apache, in more ways than one.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Jonah Hex #11 "The Hanging Tree"

Jonah Hex V2 #11 Nov, 2006
"The Hanging Tree"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - David Michael Beck, art - Art Thibert, cover

Our tale begins at night with Jonah Hex, hands bound behind him, hanging by the neck in a tree with other hanging bodies as well as skeletons. Standing below the tree, watching Hex twitch and kick, are the freaks from the Romanoff Traveling Side Show. The freaks watch a short while longer, then pack up and move on.

  An unknown amount of time later, a rider comes along and that rider uses his whip to snap the limb that Hex is tied to. The rider?..... El Diablo. Diablo cuts him loose and gives him some water along with a warning to not tease the Devil.  Diablo mentions that Lazarus is in nearby Encita but he must leave now since he has work to do.

 Next day, Encita, California. We find Jonah Hex riding into town and proceeds to the Grand Hotel. As he approaches, a man starts to stop him, holding out a hand to stop Hex. Jonah grabs the mans fingers, bending them backwards, breaking them, and then proceeds to beat the man into submission. Hex's arm is stopped by Lazarus Lane. They have a quick, unfriendly exchange and then head into the local saloon.

 Inside, Hex is pushing down a meal and Lane is quizzing him as to why the Carny folk were after Hex. Jonah explains that he killed their boss. Lane warns Hex that things are changing, the frontier is vanishing and there will soon be no room for people that hand out their own justice. Hex mentions that at least he doesn't wear a stupid mask. Lane asks Jonah how he is going to move forward since he has no money, no guns, no horse (despite riding into town on one). Just then a cowboy walks into the saloon and Jonah stands, saying that things have a way of working out.

We next see Jonah dragging that cowboy through the street to the sheriff to collect a $500 reward.

The Carnival of Torture and Death - It's night, an unknown number of days later and an unknown distance away. The Romanoff carnival is being terrorized by about a dozen men and several of the freaks lay dead. The tattooed lady is being drug across the desert by a man who states that has broker her spirit but she should be good for a few more rides. Another man comes up and drags her off, going past two men who have tied up the Siamese twins and are trying to pull them apart. Another man has a freak tied to the wagon's wheel and is heating up a stick with which to burn him. The man says that since Romanoff ain't around to pay the Pearson Gang, they will do what they damn well please.

  The tattooed lady is begging with her tormentor to let her go and when he demands that she tell him his fortune she quotes Revelation 19:11. The man tells her that the Good Book ain't gonna help her none. Just then Jonah Hex rides up behind him and says that HE will help her and then shoots the man dead.

  Back at the camp a few men spot two pairs of weirdly glowing eyes. Thinking they belong to wolves, they shoot into the night. The eyes, however, belong to El Diablo & his horse. Hex rides into the campfire light and the men ask who in the hell Hex is. Jonah says that if they want to know about hell, just turn around. El Diablo comes into the light and snaps one man's neck with his whip. Jonah shoots two more and Diablo leaps from his horse as three other men try to gun him down.

  The campfire explodes into an inferno and consumes one man as Diablo stands unscathed in the flames. Hex's horse kicks in one man's face and Jonah guns down two more men. With all of the men dead, Diablo states that vengeance is served. Hex disagrees and goes over to the remaining freaks to get even for his hanging. Diablo whips the pistol from Jonah's hand and they argue over Jonah's right to kill them....

  The tattooed lady comes back and states that she didn't want them to hang Hex. She speaks of trying to help the children that Romanoff abused and she tells Hex that he is a freak like them. She tells Hex that she has the Sight. She can see that Hex will one day be put on display and people will pay money to see him. Hex asks that if she can truly see the future then why didn't she stop all of this from happening? And then he rides off.

The Troubled Souls of Men - Lazarus Lane is asleep in his bed and Jonah Hex stands over him, holding a pistol on him. Lane jerks awake and asks if Hex was going to shoot him in his sleep. Jonah confesses to thinking about it. Lane fixes them a drink and says that he is not adverse to Hex killing him, he drinks himself to sleep most nights and wakes up screaming.

The tale ends with Jonah riding off and the narrator verifying the Tattooed woman's prophecy.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - 6
Running Total - 573 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 71 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Hung by the neck
Timeline - It appears that this takes place across two nights and one day.
Rape Percentage - 45% (5 out of 11)

I'm conflicted about this issue. Personally I have always enjoyed Jonah being apart from the DCU and this was the first 'canonical' story of Jonah interacting with a character that had some sort of super power. Being Jonah, he took it all in stride, practically staring down the Devil himself (or at least a minion). While the story may have been lacking (or not up to my liking), Gray and Palmiotti once again write caption boxes and dialogue like it's nobody's business. I find myself reading their books out loud over and over again.

Beck's art, while at time almost photographic, does come across incredibly stilted and stiff most of the time. I can't say as I'm a fan.

Next Issue - Mormon Bashing is taken to the extreme.

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!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #7 "One Wedding & Fifty Funerals"

Jonah Hex V2 #7 Jul 2006
"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.

Hex rushes Redgrave and smashes the star even further into the man's eye and into his brain. Redgrave is dead at Hex's feet. Jonah reaches down and pulls the sheriff start out of the dead man's skull and we see the words ST. ROCH on it.

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 Issue
Men 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.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #6 "Goin' Back to Texas in a Box"

Jonah Hex V2 #6 Jun 2006
"Goin' Back to Texas in a Box"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Luke Ross - art, Brian Bolland - cover

The Plague of Salvation - A man is dragging himself across the desert sands. He is covered in sores. A shadow falls across him as a rider comes upon him and we see about seven more bodies in the sand behind the man, all of them having drug themselves across the desert.

Jonah puts the man onto his horse and they both ride to the nearest town, a small outfit in the middle of nowhere, ringed with a wire fence and flying a flag. As Hex nears the town armed guards confront him and he asks if they have any medicine, it appears that his passenger has the Plague. The guards inspect the man and find that he is dead. They are also curious how Jonah got past the Apache that have cut off the town from civilization. Hex replies, "Quietly".

As Jonah rides on into town we overhear a hushed conversation between two nuns, Sister Agatha (played by Linda Hunt) and Sister Evelyn. Agatha tasks Evelyn with 'washing up' and bringing the dead man back so they can inspect him.

Hex continues on into town, riding past a flagpole flying a blue flag and a red flag on the ground. Hex ends up at the saloon where he is informed by the bartender (played by Geoffrey Lewis)that Salvation is a dry town. Jonah inquires about the flags and learns that the town is beset by Apache raids, blue flag means it's all quiet, red means trouble is coming. Jonah asks for a room where he can wash up and Lilly, the bar girl, offers to take him upstairs.

In the room, Lilly lounges on the bed. Hex asks when the plague hit town and she says that it started about a week ago. Hex asks when the last Apache raid was and Lilly says that he shouldn't ask so many questions and that he should hop in bed with her. Hex declines and the conversation continues..

..and is interrupted by a NUN WITH A GUN!!! Evelyn shows up with a shotgun and tells Lilly to clear out. Lilly leaves but stays right outside the door, eavesdropping. She learns that Evelyn is warning Hex to leave town and that Hex and Evelyn actually know each other from before Jonah's scarring. Jonah mentions that seventeen years have gone by but Evelyn interrupts him again, saying that HER scars are not as evident, but she has them all the same.

Lilly has now made tracks out of the saloon and over to the other nuns who have gathered in the street. The nuns round up a few men and they all head over to the saloon and up to the room. Evelyn is warning Jonah to leave Salvation, the town is run by Sister Agatha and he MUST get away. Just then, Sister Sarah bursts in and tells Evelyn that lying is a sin, worse than trying to bed Jonah for her own pleasure (this according to Lilly). One of the men punches Jonah and he retaliates, tempers flare and guns are raised. Evelyn jumps in front of Jonah and confesses that she tried to bed Jonah but he refused, he is no sinner. Sarah states that Agatha will decide that.

Shortly thereafter, we see Jonah and Evelyn bound and gagged in the middle of the street. They are tied to a large pole atop a huge bundle of wood and it appears that they will be burned at the stake. The townsfolk gather around for the burning and Sister Agatha shows up carrying a torch and a small child. Several dozen children fall into step behind her.

Trial by Fire - Agatha approaches the stake and tells Jonah that it is heathens like him that try to corrupt the children, she tells the kids to gaze upon the scarred face of evil and then she whispers under her breath "Don't ever think I forgot you, Jonah Hex."

The townsfolk have started throwing rocks and Agatha is gloating about destroying the wicked,, however, we are privy to seeing over a dozen Apache sneak into town and make their way right up to where the burning will take place.

What happens next is one of the most cinematic sequences in comic book history and rather than destroy it with words, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Hex confronts Agatha, saying she got lucky in Juarez and now she is hiding behind children. Agatha states that the Lord is watching over her now but Hex slaps her to the ground, picks her up and throws her out the window and into the street. Hex exits the building with several children attacking him. He tells the townsfolk to get their brats off of him and then he walks over to Agatha and uses his boot to grind her face into the broken glass in the street.

Hex pulls out a wanted poster for Mary B. Norton and addresses the Apache, telling them they have fought well this day, but this place is poisoned, they should take their dead and go home. He then turns to the town and tells them to let the Apache go or he will kill them all. Agatha rears up, pulls a knife and buries it in Jonah's right thigh and she takes off running. Hex pulls the knife out and draws his pistol but a shot rings out and Agatha falls dead in the street. Lilly is standing there with a smoking shotgun.

Hex points to Agatha's body and says "Put that in a cheap box." Then he picks up the burned body of Evelyn and says....

Statistics for this Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - 4

Running Total - 534 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 32 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Punched, almost burned, shot in right shoulder, stabbed in right thigh
Timeline  - At the latest, Hex knew Evelyn in 1866 (right before he was scarred) placing this at the latest 1883. At the earliest, he knew her after he was rescued from the Apache (1854) but he was only 16 then. From their discussion, I would figure that Hex was at the very least 19, placing their meeting in 1857 so this story could be as early as 1874. Figure in Mei Ling that means that this could have taken place in 1874, or 1877-1883. (I'm leaving 75 & 76 alone for reasons of the marriage and family turmoil and the trip to China)
Rape Percentage - 33% (2 out of 6)

This has to be one of my favorite stories and I'm afraid that I won't be able to properly convey the awe that I have for this issue. Everything in this is pitch perfect.

The burning sequence shown above so wonderfully portrays the hysteria and the confusion at the burning, how Hex works at getting the fire put out, getting shot in the shoulder, the bullet holes in the trough, the holes in the bucket, each drop of water hitting the dirt before it can douse the flames and finally Jonah realizing that Evelyn will die. Finally, there is that horrible agony of the fatally burned Evelyn, being held in Jonah's arms, asking for nothing more than one last kiss and then..THEN.. to have that denied by the Apache arrow that runs her through and lodges in Hex as well. I was almost in tears.

And the savagery of Hex afterwards. He doesn't scream her name, he doesn't vow to avenge her. He picks up and throws the Apache in to the flames, shoots a man and then hurls the bullet riddled corpse at more attackers, beats the hell out of Agatha and grinds her face into the broken glass in the dirt.

Finally...FINALLY, he hands out the best justice to Lilly as we know he will force her to dig Evelyn's grave with her bare hands.

Slap a Bolland cover on that and we are talking perfection folks (Why couldn't they have done THIS issue for the Jonah Hex movie? WHHHHHHYYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!?!?!?) This issue is worth easily triple the $2.99 cover price.

Man, I get chills just TALKING about this book. I better stop now, I'm getting light headed.

Next Issue - A Wedding, a thunderstorm, and then all Hell breaks loose.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Jonah Hex V2 #5 "Christmas With the Outlaws"

Jonah Hex V2 #5 May 2006
"Christmas with the Outlaws"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, story - Tony DeZuniga, art - Tim Bradstreet, cover

Christmas With The Outlaws - A train cuts across a frozen landscape, snow whirling in its wake and the black smoke cutting a burnt scar across the sky. The train comes to a stop at a small depot on December 25th, 1870 and Jonah Hex and his handcuffed bounty, Mike Harley, walk into the depot. In the station, the old station master recognizes Harley and is aghast that Harley has been caught but isn't surprised that it was Jonah Hex that did it.

The station master calls for Lula to bring them all drinks, on the house. Hex states that a drink is fine, but he's waiting on the Rangers to pick up Harley and doesn't want this night to turn into a social gathering. The master says that it might be one anyway. Harley explains that his boys are coming to spring him free. The master reminds Harley that Frank Denson's gang has been hunting Harley since he killed Denson's little brother back in '67. Denson telegraphed the station that he was coming and that everyone should clear out.

Hex has a bad feeling about the encroaching gangs coming in and tells the old man to get him and the girl outta there. Lula then points out that they can't leave since they are already surrounded.

The Not So Wise Men - A yell from outside reveals that Sanchez and the rest of Harley's gang are there. Hex asks what weapons are on hand and Lula tells him they have two shotguns and a pistol. Hex tells Harley to have the gang leave or he'll blow his head off, to which Harley replies that the bounty is only if he is alive and he ain't worth dying for.

The old man pipes up that he's ready for a fight and that he'll help hold them off, but Lula argues that they didn't buy into this fight and aren't ready for it. Hex tells everyone to calm down but Harley reminds Hex that things are going to get really nasty once Denson and his boys ride up, best take the easy way out now. Lula picks up a shotgun, aims at Harley and says that she doesn't care what happens to him, she just ain't ready to die so Hex can get paid.

Sanchez yells in, asking if Harley is coming out. Tempers are starting to rise in the small depot as the old man pushes the shotgun down in Lula's hands, telling her to put it away. She shouts back for him to shut up and for Harley to walk out the door, followed by Hex. They can all kill each other all day, just someplace else.

The door swings open and Sanchez walks in, Lula instinctively whirls and blows Sanchez backwards into the snow. Hex jumps up and kicks the door shut and tells everyone to get down as the rest of Harley's gang open up on the depot. Harley, on the floor is screaming for his gang to stop before they kill him and the shooting subsides. Hex peeks out the window and sees that things have gone from bad to worse as Harley's gang has been completely wiped out by the Denson boys that just arrived amidst the storm.

The Ghosts of the Past - Hex takes aim and shoots the hat off of Denson's head and tells Denson that the Texas Rangers are on their way to collect Harley and that is EXACTLY how things are going to play out. Denson demands to know who he is talking to and the voice comes back "Jonah Woodson Hex." With those words, half of Denson's men mount up and take off. Denson starts to try to reason with Hex while signalling to his men to surround the depot.

Denson asks for Hex to let the station master and his granddaughter go, but Hex nixes that idea. Lula and the old man start for the  door but Hex warns that they'll be used as hostages to which Harley quickly agrees. One of Denson's men kicks in a portion of a side wall and Hex quickly shoots the man's toe off. Hex says that he will not barter and he will not negotiate and Harley says that Hex knows what will come next.

An Outbreak of Lead Poisoning - Of course, they will try to burn Hex out.

The station master has had enough and knows that Denson is a reasonable man and he opens the door to head out. Denson's men shout that the old guy has a rifle and mow him down, Hex responds with a quick killing of one of Denson's men. Denson demands that his boys hold their fire but three of them slam their way through a back door and Harley shoots one and Hex kills the rest before they can get a shot off. Hex then takes the shotgun away from Harley.

Hex tells Lula to tend to the old man before he bleeds to death. The old man, still alive throws in his two cents just as a flaming torch crashes through the window and Denson's men toss a few more up onto the roof. Harley tells Hex that it looks like the Rangers are gonna be too late, uncuff him and they both have better chance of getting through this. Hex thinks for a second and tosses the keys to Harley. Harley uncuffs himself and Hex lays everything out.

He tells everyone to be ready to run and get right behind him and warns Harley to not get shot. By now the depot is fully engulfed and Denson shouts in that it makes no sense why Hex is letting everyone die. Just then Hex crashes out through a window and Harley bursts out the door and six men are quickly killed, the snow soaking up their blood. Harley grabs a pistol from a dead man and attempts to shoot Hex from behind. He misses and quickly mounts up on a waiting horse. Hex takes aim and shoots the horse out from underneath Harley.

Lula and her grandfather emerge from the burning depot as Hex advances on Harley, now pinned under the horse he tried to escape on. Hex tosses the cuffs to Harley and tells him to put them on. Harley tries to reason with Hex since it's Christmas, why not let him go? Hex says that Harley is Jonah's present to himself. Harley says that there ain't a jail that can hold him, he has a lot of money and money can buy freedom. Hex tells him to shut up.

Lula is livid, the station is burnt to the ground and everything they owned was in there. Just then the Texas Rangers show up and Hex asks about his money. The Rangers then pull their pistols and free Harley. He smiles and says, "Sam, I'm surprised to see you riding with the law." Sam says that it don't pay as well as bank robbing but he heard Harley was caught and that HE would like to collect the reward. Harley mounts up and tells Hex that the next time when someone offers money bigger than the reward, go with the money and since it's Christmas and all, he won't kill Hex for all the trouble he's caused. Harley and the Rangers ride off.

Standing among the smoldering remains of the depot, the station master observes that Harley is a smart as a fox, but Hex thinks that someday he'll wander into the wrong henhouse.

The Wrong Henhouse - 1880, Christmas Day. A train, plowing through a heavy snow, struggles up a steep grade. Suddenly an explosion rips the tracks and the engine to piece. Harley, Sam and the others descend onto the train and head for the bank car to finish off their last job in style. As they whip open the boxcar door they are greeted by Jonah Hex and a Gatling gun and ........

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah Hex - 16
Running Total - 530 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 28 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - none
Timeline - 1870 and 1880
Rape Percentage - 40%

This story has several unique features. One is the given dates for the tale, something unusual in the new Hex; another is the artwork from Tony DeZuniga (more on that later); a third is the environment, snow (darn few Westerns take place in the snow, sadly).

The story is a great one (better on a re-read than what I originally remember. The claustrophobia caused by the storm, the small depot, the bickering inside, and the changing face of the danger outside really drive home that Jonah is not in charge of this situation but is still trying to hold everything together. I also enjoyed that the station Manager and his granddaughter weren't on the same page with regards to Hex and the situation. One more thing about the story, actually about the style of Palmiotti and Gray. The chapter titles. I love them. It gives the book an overall feel of a serial, either as a dime novel, a Saturday morning movie serial, a tale told around the campfire, whatever it is. The chapters give you a little breather from the action, a small hint of what is to come and because of how much I like them, I'm going to start listing them in the recap as well.

Tony DeZuniga is back, and at first I had mixed feelings. Many years have passed since we last saw his work (1984 to be exact. 22 years?) and his style is now a lot looser, more sketchy and a LOT more stylized with less detail in places, added lens-flare effects (seen below) but there are a few hints of the early DeZuniga with the action crossing panel borders, characters bursting through panels and even blood dripping across the page backgrounds. At first I didn't care for the final page (seen above), but again, on re-reading it, I'm enjoying it more.

The cover by Tim Bradstreet is near photographic in quality and was in the running for one of the ten best covers of Jonah Hex V2.

All in all, one of the better stories of the new Hex.

Next Issue - Geoffrey Lewis, Linda Hunt, Indians, the Plague and NUNS WITH GUNS!!!