Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Weird Western Tales #18 "The Hoax"

Back in the saddle after we few weeks of handling business. And as promised, a shirtless Hex pic just for Sally.

Weird Western Tales #18 July-Aug 1973
"The Hoax"

John Albano, story - Tony DeZuniga, art - Luis Domiguez, cover

Back when Jonah was in Weird Western Tales they actually tried to make the cover weird. This is one of those covers with Jonah about to be attacked by what looks like a werewolf. What kid wouldn't buy that?

The story starts off with two men on horseback shooting an old prospector off of his horse. They go through his pockets finding a claim to a gold mine but then they notice a man washing up on the other side of a nearby stream. They wade across the stream, asking the man if he saw or heard what had just happened. The man replies that he heard & saw, but maybe that old man needed killing, it doesn't concern him anyway. The two ambushers decide that it will be better if there are no witnesses. The man turns to revel his hideously scarred face. The two men realize that it is Jonah Hex, but they draw on him anyway, failing miserably.

Jonah hears the old man dying. The old man begs Jonah to take the mine claim to his daughter will be arriving in Esmerelda, a nearby town. Jonah says that he'll do it for $100, and then the old man dies. In the nearby town, Jonah finds the woman in a hotel and he gives her the tale of her dead father, the claim for the mine, and his request for the $100. She tells Jonah to take the money from her purse. She also asks who will place the killers behind bars and Jonah states that he has killed them and he leaves.

Later that night an angry crowd storms into the saloon where Jonah is eating. They say that Jonah sold the daughter a phony claim and took advantage of her blindness. Jonah punches the holy living crap out of one man and draws his pistols. He explains that he only delivered the claim and didn't know she was blind. There is a tense standoff between Jonah and the mob, with the mob realizing that they had superior numbers, but none of them are willing to be the first ones gunned down. Just then J.M. Marberry walks in and berates the mob. Marberry tells the sheriff that he will take personal responsibility for Jonah while Hex is in town.

As Marberry and Jonah are walking down the street talking, Marberry asks Jonah how good he is with a gun. Just then a man calls to Jonah, Jonah draws his pistol and shoots the man dead. A bullet hits the ground next to Hex and he sees another man shooting at him from a nearby roof. Jonah returns fire & starts chasing the man as he runs from roof to roof. Jonah is keeping pace with him down in the street. Eventually the shooter runs out of rooftops and Jonah shoots & kills him.

Marberry is amazed at Jonah's gun ability and Jonah explains that one of the men was the father of a crook that Jonah gunned down. The other man was probably a hired gun to help. The Sheriff calls it self defense & lets Jonah go on his way. Marberry follows Jonah and tells Jonah that he has something to show him in a nearby barn. In the barn Marberry lights a lantern and displays for Jonah what appears to be some sort of animal man in a cage. Marberry explains that he accidentally caught this creature in a trap and believes that this creature is the leader of a coyote pack that has been killing local livestock. Marberry is convinced that this was a young child raised by cototes. He wants to hire Jonah for protection since Marberry is planning on showing this creature & is sure that folks will be wanting to steal the profits. Hex decides to go in with Marberry 50-50.

The next afternoon Marberry has a tent set up & is charging 50 cents ($8) a head to see the amazing wolf-boy. Folks are flocking in and are amazed at the snarling beast. However, one person is very disturbed by what he has seen and then suddenly has a revelation.

Some time later a Mr. Colby shows up at the tent. The man who had the revelation (Clem) is with him, as are a few other gunmen. Colby tells Marberry that Clem noticed a diamond shaped scar on the wolf-boy's neck. Fifteen years ago Indians attacked a wagon train that Colby was on and took Colby's son, who had a diamond scar on his neck. Colby claims that the wolf-boy is his son & therefore belongs to him. Colby starts to draw on Marberry to take the creature but Jonah shoots the pistol from Colby's hand.

Colby states that since the wolf-boy only means money to Marberry, maybe Marberry would be interested in selling him. Colby will mortgage his ranch to get the money and Jonah refuses his half of the money. Marberry tells Jonah that they aren't really selling the boy but actually collecting a reward for finding him. If Jonah meets Marberry tomorrow at noon in the saloon, he'll split with him 50-50.

The next day in the saloon the sheriff and a few men walk in on Hex and hold him at gunpoint. They say that Marberry just told them about how Jonah duped Marberry and Colby both. Jonah smashes a bottle across one man's head and then uses his body as a shield from the gunfire. He throws the unconscious man at the other men and then beats the holy living crap out of the sheriff and his deputies.

Meanwhile, outside of town at a watering hole is Marberry and a young man who is washing the wolf-boy makeup off. They are laughing about how lucky they were to find that old prospector who told them about Colby's son and the diamond shaped scar. They revel in how they 'sold' the wolf-boy to Colby and how the wolf-boy escaped and how they managed to pin the whole hoax on Jonah while they made off with the $5,000 ($81,000).

After a full day of riding they notice that they are being trailed by Hex. The young man's horse falls because of a gopher hole. Marberry leaves him to Hex who ties the man to his own horse and tells him to tell the sheriff the whole truth or Jonah will personally pistol whip him to death. The young man says that he'll even tell how they sold the phony gold mine to the old prospector. Jonah whips the horse, sending it back to town.

Several hours later Marberry comes upon a farmhouse and asks if they would sell him a fresh horse. The farmer refuses to sell, so Marberry guns him down, steals a fresh horse and then shoots the wife when she comes out screaming. Marberry rides further on and camps down for the night in the rain. He awakens the next morning to the smell of bacon and sees a cowboy at a nearby camp making breakfast. He wanders over only to discover that it is Hex. Jonah comments that he had to make his own breakfast because the farmer coupls a few miles back weren't in the breakfast mood.

Marberry jumps on his horse and takes off again and finally comes upon three Indians hunting. He panics and shoots, killing two of them. The third Indian manages to bury an arrow in the middle of Marberry's chest. Standing over Marberry, the Indian asks why he attacked them, they were only hunting game. The Indian rides off as Jonah rides up. As Jonah kneels next to Marberry, here is the finally coversation:

Marberry: I sold that rancher Colby a 'phony' son for $5,000 for supposedly finding his long lost boy for him, right?
Jonah: Yeah...
Marberry: ...so maybe Colby will enjoy hearing who it was that finally did me in ....
Jonah: Ah don't understand...an Injun got you!
Marberry: That's right, gunfighter...(choke!) ..an Indian split my insides with an arrow... a pale-skinned Indian with a diamond-shaped scar on his neck!
Jonah: Wal, Ah'll be danged... Ah'll be danged.

Statistics for the issue
Men killed by Jonah: 4
Running Total: 39
Jonah's Injuries: None
Timeline: An early story when Jonah had his hat with the striped band.

I enjoyed this story. It was a lot harder and lengthier to relate than to read. A bunch of folks coming in & out of the story and more than a few swindles goin
g on. I couldn't tell why Marberry was a respected member of the community early on but that really wasn't important. Jonah getting hoodwinked on a business deal was also a nice touch. But this issue does answer the question: Who is bad enough in the DC Universe to punch left handed and still knock a guy horizontal in midair... and also punch outside the frame... with a bad sound effect?

Answer: Jonah Hex!

Next Issue: A prison break and poisoned waterholes

Word on the scar

The fine Doctor over at Polite Dissent has finally commented on Jonah's hideous scarring. Personally I disagree with him, because several times it has appeared that Jonah has very little lip tissue on the right side.

But that's my opinion & I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Yes, I know you came here expecting a double-dose of Jonah Hex goodness. And I disappointed you. Rather than lead you on, making promises I can't keep, I'll let you know that I need to take a hiatus. I have home repairs to make, a computer to fix, financial matters to handle, Brandon's comic to mail out (I didn't forget, I just can't find it right now), and Gilder to frame for it.

I'll be back in two weeks, March 27th, picking up with the promised WWT stories and hopefully bakc in the saddle with Pitchman-A-Go-Go, Weekly Wonderous Moment in comics, the Hex RPG, & more of RINGSIDE!!

Thanks for sticking around, and hopefully, coming back on the 27th.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jonah Hex #6 "The Lawman"

Jonah Hex #6 Nov 1977
"The Lawman"
Michael Fleisher, story - Ernie Chan & Noly Panaligan, art - Ernie Chan, cover

Jonah is still on the run and while he is bunked down in the middle of a thunderstorm he is caught unawares by U.S. Marshall Toby Ruster. Jonah attempts to explain his innocence, but Ruster will have no part of it. Ruster cuffs Hex and they both ride off.

After a time they come upon a river ferry and the ferry master explains that with all of the rain they won't be able to cross the rampaging river for about 3 days. Ruster offers to pay double, but the ferrymaster won't have any of it. Ruster tells the man that they will have to take turns guarding his prisoner, Jonah Hex. The ferrymaster jumps up & starts loading the the horses on the ferry. Ruster then cuffs himself to Hex to insure that Jonah doesn't try to escape.

Since this is a Jonah Hex comic & Jonah hates water, guess what happens. Yup, first of all the ferrymaster is tossed overboard into the drink and as Ruster is attempting to uncuff Hex so they can both try to pole the ferry across the river, Ruster is kicked in the head by a frightened horse and he drops dead, dropping the key into the river. Jonah, cuffed to a dead man, is unable to do anything to save the ferry and the whole shooting match ends up splintering on some rocks.

Further downstream we spy a young lady and a large young man on the riverbank (Emmylou and George). Emmy spies Jonh and Ruster in the water. George literally grabs a tree and shoves it into the river in order to drag them out. Jonah grabs onto the tree and before he can be pulled in, grabs the sheriff's badge and pins it on his coat. Once ashore, Jonah tells the pair that HE is Toby Ruster and the dead man is his prisoner. Emmy chastises George for talking to the 'Marshall' when it is obvious that he needs medical attention.

At the town doctor's office, Jonah is declared to be in fine health (Ruster is pronounced dead and is lying on a table next to Jonah since they are still cuffed together). George continues on with his talking, telling Jonah how he & Emmylou are getting hitched soon, to which Emmy stutters her agreement. Emmy continues to dote on Jonah, making sure his blanket is tucked properly & such. George tells her to leave Jonah alone since they have to see the blacksmith to get the cuffs off.

On the way to smithy, Jonah lie in the back of a wagon next to the wet rotting corpse while George rambles on about how isolated their town is, they get no visitors, no newspapers, no lawmen. Emmy tells George to put a sock in it. By now I'm not seeing a bright future for this couple. The smithy is able to get the cuffs off and Emmy tries to get some hot coffee into Jonah when a store owner runs into the smithy shop asking if it's true that there is a marshal in town. George starts in with the introductions, but the store owner tells them that the bank is being robbed and that Jonah has to stop them. Jonah grabs several sticks of dynamite (always a good sign) and heads out.

At the bank one of the outlaws is pulling a cart full of money when suddenly a lit stick of dynamite lands next to him, sending him on to meet his just reward. A couple of gunshots from the roof of the bank picks another off his horse and as the rest start to run off, Jonah tosses one last kaboom stick and kills one more robber.

Inside the bank, bank president Harold Jeffries is tied up. Emmy gushes over how great Jonah was & George says he could have done just as well. Emmy snaps back "maybe you could've, George, but you didn't." George gets hacked off & decides to talk a walk but Emmy apologizes and wants to go with him (in order to point out any flaws in the way George walks).

Down by the river, George starts telling Emmy about how he feels ignored and Emmy, proving his point, interrupts him to point out a dead horse in the river. George wades out to retrieve the saddlebag and finds a wanted poster with Jonah's picture on it. George decides to take it to Jeffries to see what should be done about the imposter in their midst.

It's nighttime by the time George gets back to town (since Emmy didn't go with him, he obviously got lost for several hours) and when he walks up to the bank he overhears Jeffries yelling at the men who tried earlier in the day to rob the bank. Jeffries says that he spent months planning the robbery & those fools let one guy with a gun & several sticks of dynamite run them off. Let me pause here and state that George earlier decided to take the poster to Jeffries because Jeffries was 'educated'. It took Jeffries months to plan a bank robbery in a bank that he is the president of and in a town with no sheriff. My opinion is that Jeffries is a moron and I'm surprised that George, who thinks Jeffries is educated, can walk & breath at the same time. Just my opinion. Now back to the story.

George is discovered eavesdropping and is murdered. The robbers find the wanted poster in George's hand and Jeffries, somehow, manages to hatch a plan to lure Jonah into the bank, have the gang kill him and then pin the successful bank robbery on a dead wanted Jonah Hex. They plan on saying that they killed him in the act of escaping but not before Jonah managed to hide the bank loot. So they are going to kill Jonah IN the bank, but somehow Jonah has managed to hide the loot? Is this the 1st national bank of Moronville?

Sorry, I'm tired & grumpy & my computer with the scanner is busted.

Anyway, Emmy overhears the robbers talking about this while they are loading dead George in a wagon. Emmy realizes that she must save Jonah and starts running all over town looking for him. She finally locates him walking down the street with Jeffries, on their way to the ambush in the bank. She shouts out "Marshal! Mr. Hex! Get Back!" and then she is gunned down. Jonah bashes Jeffries in the head and guns down the robber, which shot Emmy, on a balcony. Four more robbers appear and Jonah dives into the dirt, rolling, and shoots all four of them dead.

When he stands up, Jeffries is on his knees begging for his life. Jonah explains that if Emmy dies, he will come back & blow Jeffries head off.

The next day, a few upstanding citizens are telling Jonah that the doc says Emmy will be fine, George will still be dead, Jeffries will probably hang and that since Jonah is a fugitive from the law, they should put him in jail. However, seeing as how Jonah will probably ride off and every horse in town is lame, they can't get a posse up to chase him down. Jonah slowly rides out of town, tossing the marshal badge into the street.

Statistics for this issue
Men killed by Jonah - 8
Running Total - 133
Jonah's Injuries - well, none, surprisingly
Timeline - Part of the 'Wanted man' arc. We still haven't determined when this takes place, but I'm sure that we will get a clue or two later on.

I really didn't like this story (can you tell?). Everyone seemed so stupid, the town seemed too remote to even have a bank, and if Jonah hadn't come to town, Emmy & George would have ended up married and then in a homicide-suicide on their wedding night. However, this is not the worst Jonah story I have ever read, that one comes much much later & it's not in 'HEX' or even in the Vertigo line. You'll just have to wait for it.

Next Issue: -A flashback that is part one of Jonah's origin story, it has slavery, liquor and a Frenchman. Oui!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dead Motherboard = no pics

Yup, my motherboard bit the big one and since it's almost 4 years old and the only replacement I can find is on ebay with the words "haven't checked, may not work" in the ad copy, I may be looking at having to replace the whole computer.

Until then, I have no way to scan my wonderful copies of Jonah Hex. I will experiment with posting the reviews and maybe adding the scans later, or I might launch into a diatribe against Michael Fleisher and his inability to work a calendar.

More later.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Tony DeZunigia art show

Opening for an art show featuring Tony's work.

An interview with Tone DeZuniga

Nice little interview with Tony. He starts talking about Jonah around the 5 min mark.