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


Brandon Bragg said...


No shirtless Hex for me?

Err, uh... I mean...

No! No shirtless Hex for me!

SallyP said...

Thank you very much Dwayne for the shirtless Hex. Two-fisted, bare-chested carnage! Woohoo!

This WAS a very good story. Rather fun to see Jonah get hoodwinked for a change.

Oh and Brandon? I'll share if you are a good boy.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

Kids! Kids! There are more than enough Shirtless Hexes to go around. Everyone will get one.

googum said...

'Blag'? Guy's skull must've been out of tune or flat or something.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

Some of the early issues had Jonah punching a guy, the punchee's feet off the ground, and a huge ZAP for a sound effect.