Thursday, September 30, 2010

HEX #16 "The Slayer and the Slave!"

Hex #16 Dec 1986
"The Slayer and the Slave!"
Michael Fleisher, story - Keith Giffen and Carlos Garzon, art - Denys Cowan and Carlos Garzon, cover

Jonah has been captured and is now part of the slave labor in the camp that belongs to the Visitor From the Future. Having had enough, Jonah grabs a rock and attempts to bash in the head of one of the guards. But this only gets him pummeled by half a dozen guards.

Meanwhile, Stiletta has visited a doctor to learn the reason behind her sudden attacks. He tells her that her symptoms indicate that the mind control drugs are very slowly working their way out of her system. However, he has also located a 'booster' cell implanted in her and that accounts for her great strength and speed. He says that he can remove it but just then three thugs bust in and demand drugs from the doctor. Stiletta jumps into action, crushing one thug with a roof beam (I think, I'm not sure), she throws a knife completely through the second thug and it appears that she snaps the third thug in half. Stiletta decides to keep the implant.

Jonah is now being held in a cell, but he reveals that during the beating, he manages to lift an electronic key off one of the guards. He figures out how to work it and manages to unlock all of the cells in the compound. So there is a huge jailbreak and during the confusion, Jonah decides to not run with the crowd and hides in a drainage pipe until all the commotion dies down.

Meanwhile, in the far far far flung future, the Xxggs have figured out that the Visitor From the Future has escaped their clutches and is now in the past (yet still, our future). They dispatch a liquidation team to hunt down S'ven Tarah (so THAT'S his name!).

Back to Jonah Hex. He is still hiding in the drain pipe when a guard comes by and Jonah jumps out and tries to clean the guard's clock. Jonah and the guard battles it out with Jonah winning .

Stiletta? She has left the mining town and headed toward the slave camp in an attempt to locate Jonah. Once she sneaks in, she has one of her attacks and with her super strength, beats the ever-loving snot out of the guards. However, this raises an alarm and several hundred guards are dispatched to the area. Oddly enough, one of the guards has a terrible scar.

Appears that Jonah has donned the suit of the guard to beat up and he now is wandering the compound and comes across the giant starship that S'ven Tarah is building. Sadly, he also comes across the Starkad, the Viking from the Dogs of War. They fight, fight, fight, with Jonah taking most of the damage until Jonah douses him with gasoline and threatens him with a flamethrower (holy, Jonah Hex movie tie-in!!)

Suddenly Stanley Harris appears and sets everything right, introducing everyone all around.

Meanwhile, someplace in the darkness we see what appears to be a vehicle driving down the road. An alien looking arm appears, people scream, confusion reigns and we head for the next issue.

Statistics for this Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - 0 (this is getting old!)
Running Total - 478 (428 past, 50 future)
Jonah's Injuries - Crap beat outta him twice
Timeline - Again, no idea. A day? A week? phhggt

While there was plenty of action, this issue is like watching Raiders of the Lost Ark with my glasses off. Sounds like a lot happening, but I can't see a damn thing. Two issues to go!!

Next Issue: Fighting! Explosions! Tears! Anti-Climax!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hex #15 "Chain of Doom"

Hex #15 Nov 1986
"Chain of Doom"
Michael Fleisher, story - Keith Giffen and Carlos Garzon, art and cover

Jonah Hex exits the cafe and meets Stiletta at the motorcycle. He asks if she has ever heard of a gang called the Dogs of War. She says that she hasn't and Hex relates the tale he heard in the cafe regarding an alien from the future. Hex decides to try to locate this fella to see if he has a way to get Hex back home. They both jump on the bike and head out but Stiletta starts getting dizzy and attributes that to all the drugs that were forced into her over the past few issues.

Conglomerate Headquarters! Yup, we're back at that palatial estate and none other than Chain is talking to the head man himself. Chain is demanding that he be allowed to kill Jonah Hex, but the Conglomerate has no beef with Hex since Jonah toppled the empire of Reinhold Borsten. Besides, they would never hire a loser like Chain. Chain responds to the insult by instantly killing once of the Conglomerate's thugs. The head guy calls for reinforcements and Chain quickly slices the head off one and cuts the other one in half, explaining that he no longer has a regular chainsaw for hand but now has a photon scrambler. Having made a shambles of everything, Chain leaves the room with the head of the Conglomerate quaking in his boots.

At the slave labor camp, our unnamed alien in doing an introspective recap and we learn that he is from the future that has been conquered by an intergalactic race called the Xxggs (pronounced Shhigs). There is no good way to condense this, so I'll go pretty much verbatim on this one.

The Xxggs cam from the star system Erqlahlia in a giant generational starship, that was both a ship and a homeworld. This allowed them to travel for generations, seeking planets to conquer and when they reached Earth, they swept across the planet. Their science and technology was so superior there was nothing Earth could do. Eventually, all of Earth was enslaved and our alien buddy hatched a brilliant scheme.

He would travel back in time preceding the invasion in order to built a starship that could intercept the Xxggs ship enroute to Earth and then utilize a Nucleotide Injector to subtly alter the Xxgg's gene plasma in order to weaken the Xxggs throughout the future generations, thus ensuring Earth a victory in the coming battle. In order to do this, the alien would utilize the help of the Legion of Superheroes, BUT while our alien was trying to go back in time to the 30th century, Reinhold Borsten was tossing 'time-nets' into the timestream to gather warriors to fight in his staged battles. Our alien friend was caught in one of those nets.

The alien strikes a deal with Borsten. If Borsten allows the alien access to all of Borsten's resources in order to build this ship, the alien would then create a band of super-powered being to allow Borsten to rule the world. The alien knows that Borsten has no chance of accomplishing this goal (since there is no mention of Borsten ruling the world in the future), so the alien is given a Norseman, a Roman Legionary, a Japanese Ninja, and a Maori Chieftain, as well as Stanley Harris (whom the alien caught himself after the Needle's destruction.) Got all that? Good, cuz there's gonna be a test later.

Back to Jonah Hex and Stiletta on their bike. They are traveling across the countryside and Jonah mentions that they are getting close to where the Road Reaper told him the slave camp would be. WAIT! But isn't the slave camp three thousand miles from New York? I looked back at issue #13 and I'm not so sure. The Dogs of War capture the Road Reapers 3k miles away from New York, but the location of the slave camp is never given.

But I digress. On with the story.

Suddenly there is a huge blast, narrowly missing the bike.

We cut to the Dogs of War talking how they just blew up a titanium mining operation. Is that anywhere Jonah Hex? I have no idea. Can't tell from the story and sure as hell can't tell from the art. But let's continue on, shall we? So the Dogs of War are standing around talking about the ray they used, given to them by the alien, would only cause the mine to collapse and not injure any of the workers trapped inside. The ninja, Sun Hawk, summons forth his demon who clears a path down to the trapped miners and then the Dogs of War take all the miners aboard their spaceship to work in the slave camp.

Elsewhere we see a lone ship flying over the landscape and it is piloted by Chain's little brother. He is searching for Jonah Hex but is having no luck yet.

Meanwhile, Jonah and Stiletta roll into the mining camp (so they must have only seen that huge explosion, not been the target. Thanks, Keith, for portraying that in such detail). Stiletta and Hex split up to question the locals in order to learn if this was the work of the Dogs of War. Overhead, Chain's little brother picks up Jonah on the video and then alerts Chain.

Jonah is talking to some locals, getting the skinny, when they suddenly scream that the monster's are back. Before Jonah can react, he is tackled to the ground by Chain.

In another part of the camp, Stiletta is getting sweats, cramps and then suddenly goes into convulsions, ripping up huge hunks of buildings and throwing them around.

The battle between Jonah and Chain is not going well for Hex who is only able to dodge the photon scrambler. Jonah pulls a pistol, but Chain reduces it to mere atoms. Jonah turns and runs into a nearby mine, knowing there will be something there to help even the odds. Chain follows into the darkness and comes upon and open explosives locker. As he takes in what he is seeing, a grenade sails forth from the darkness and explodes at his feet.

Jonah steps out of the shadows, silently thanking Mabel for teaching him about all the toys that the future holds. Just then the mine wall explodes and Chain sails through, knocking Jonah to the ground. Chain stands over Hex, gloating as Jonah tries to get to his feet. That's when Jonah notices that one of Chain's boots is broken and is throwing out sparks. Jonah goads Chain into getting closer and lures Chain into stepping into a shallow pool of water.

Science being what it is, the electricity and water mix in such a way that Chain is electrocuted as well as having the jets on his boots ignite, catapulting him up through the mineshaft and into the darkening skies. Jonah pulls himself to his feet and starts to find Stiletta, only to collapse unconscious.

Back in the mining camp, Stiletta has regained control of herself but has little idea of the destruction she has caused.

Jonah regains consciousness and heads back to the camp when he is suddenly covered by a huge shadow. He looks up just in time to see the flying Manta Ray from the Dogs of War unleash his paralyzing gaze and Jonah falls to the ground.

Statistics for this issue
Men killed by Jonah - Do we dare suggest that Chain is dead? Nahhhhh. 0
Running Total - 478 (428 past, 50 future)
Jonah's Injuries - Well, he once again gets the crap kicked out of himself and then gets hit with a paralyzing beam.
Timeline - Really, who knows? Let's just call it the same day as last issue. That seems about right.

Now about this issue. AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHH. What in the ever loving HELL was DC thinking by letting Keith Giffen do the artwork on this book? His work on Ambush Bug was hard to understand but I did enjoy the book. Here, if possible, it seems that he just got lazier. I really feel sorry for Carlos Garzon who had to INK this crap. How many bottles of ink did he go through on each page? The biggest part of the problem with Giffen's work is that he wanted to be all cutting edge and he provides NO MARGINS between panels. Just a thin black line, and in work (cough cough) like Giffen's, a thin black line can be anything from a spaceship to a cute girl on the sidewalk. Hell, Little Lulu has more artistry than this guano-taco!!

The storyline moves deeper & deeper into intergalactic sci-fi and with a different star character that might be a good thing, but not here. Now it may seem odd that I am willing to accept an 1800's cowboy entangled with time-travel and a futuristic society but I draw the line at aliens and such. Maybe it's because that almost every time-travel story is about normal people encountering an advanced society and their problems with adjusting. Space aliens are usually NOT part & parcel of time-travel unless it is about aliens in the future traveling backward. Usually forward time-travel can find more than enough story fodder in the societal differences without having to bring in aliens and space travel.

You may have noticed a HUGE gap between the recap of last issue and this. I chalk some of that up to a hectic few weeks but I have to admit that I am not looking forward to wading through the next few issues. I'm gonna have to take the band-aid approach and just rip through them and take all the pain.

Next Issue: Stiletta gets all super-powered, Jonah vs a Viking, and the Xxggs finally land in the 21st century!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tubby Tuesday #3


releases his inner Jackie O

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Tubby-less Thursday

Yeah, it's not Tuesday. Don't matter, cuz this panel from Little Lulu collection #6 doesn't have Tubby in it.

The picture is priceless, in or out of context. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Hex #14 "Gladiator"

Hex #14 Oct 1986
Michael Fleisher, story - Mark Texeira and Carlos Garzon, art and cover

Hex is in a high speed chase through the streets of New York, blindly pursued by the Combine while he attempts to locate Stiletta, kidnapped by the Combine and forced into recreational fighting under the name The Blonde Spitfire. Jonah does the best he can, driving through the streets and shooting out the driver's window. Sadly, in the future almost everything is heavily armored and the bullets just bounce off. In the back of the limo Hex has stolen is the tied up chauffeur, a dead member of the Combine, and another member of the Combine, bruised but still alive.

Hex demands to know if the limo has anything that will stop his pursuers and the Combine member directs him to the tailfin torpedoes. Jonah mashes the button and a quickly launched torpedo explodes on a Combine thug astride a hover-bike. Hex demands the whereabouts of Stiletta and with a pistol pressed against his forehead, the Combine member spills forth with all the info Hex needs. Hex makes a hard right down an alley and then quickly bails out of the limo. The Combine member sees that the alley is a deadend and dives into the driver's seat, trying to stop the limo. He slams on the brakes and the rocketing limo stops just inches from the brick wall at the end of the alley. However, the Combine still thinks Hex is in the limo and launches a torpedo of their own, blowing up the limo, sans Hex.

Elsewhere in the city, we spy on Stiletta in a fierce battle with a battle-bot. Three men; Drago, the Doc, and a short henchman, are discussing an implant that will be placed within Stiletta. Even though she is undefeated in 14 bouts, the implant, highly illegal, will double her speed and triple her striking power. The Doc warns that there could be unforeseen side effects. Drago is willing to take the chance since he plans on using it only if she starts losing. The Doc checks Stiletta and administers another dose of Mind control shots but he also warns that since Stiletta is extremely strong willed and shots of this potency could have an irreversible effect on her mind.

But, enough about the Combine, let's look in on the Conglomerate and their heavily fortified Soames processing plant. During a heavy downpour a lone guard sees something advancing through the rain. He opens fire and the Centurion, even though there is little sunlight, manages to deliver a huge force blast. With the alarm sounded, a huge dome starts to enclose the processing plant. Despite the best efforts of the Viking, the Manta Ray and the Centurion, the dome is undamaged.

That is when Stanley Harris steps forward, peels off his gold gloves and touches the dome. Seems that Harris now has a horrible chronal energy residing in his hands and anything that he touches ages rapidly (thus the gold gloves to prevent unwanted horrors). In the space of a few minutes the entire dome, ages, cracks and collapses. Then all hell breaks loose.

The Conglomerate unleashes a spider tank that blasts the Ninja (aka Sun Hawk) but the Viking runs forward and tries to chop off a leg of the spider tank, to no avail. Then he and Harris start climbing the legs while Manta flies upward and covers the windshield of the tank. The Viking makes it to a joint on the leg and lops it off, Harris plants an explosive onto the tank and the Centurion punches it toward a hillside where it explodes into pieces.

Back in New York, we visit in on a man washing and polishing and beautiful hovercar. Jonah Hex drops from above and kicks the ever-loving crap outta him.

Back to Drago and Co. Drago is saying that they need to get Stiletta to Atlanta for her next fight when the short henchman suddenly sees their car flying straight for the window of their building. Jonah Slams the hovo through the window as everyone scatters (except Stiletta, who stands like a statue, awaiting orders). Drago pulls out a machine gun and Jonah pops from the hovo and plants one between Drago's eyes. The henchman and the doc head for the door, the henchman shouting "Spitfire! KILL HIM!"

Jonah tries to reason with Stiletta as she draws a knife, but Hex sees the glazed look in her eyes and knows he is on trouble. The battle commences, with Stiletta attempting to stab Jonah repeatedly. Hex lands a haymaker square on her jaw but she doesn't even flinch. She launches a kick to Hex's head and then presses a button on her wrist cuff, launching darts from her shoulderpad. Jonah is pinned to the wall and ass he fights to free himself, Stiletta grabs a whip, ensnares Jonah's legs and then throws him out the window to the street far below.

Stiletta walks over to the window to view the final fate of Jonah Hex, but she is greated but both of Hex's boots to her head. Jonah has caught himself on a narrow ledge and then jumps back into the room and pummels Stiletta into submission.

Remember that huge prison work camp 3,000 miles away? Well, we go back there to check in on the Road Reapers that were taken as slaves to work there. The Road Reaper is thinking about how every day the Dogs of War take off and every day they come back with more slaves, putting glowing electro-cuffs on the slaves. Just then the Road Reapers own cuffs flicker and go dark. Just then a guard droid appears but without the electro-cuffs working, the Road Reaper is invisible to the droid. The Reaper then hotfoots it out of the camp and on to freedom.

Later (I'm standing by this because that is what the caption said) Jonah is driving his bike with Stiletta tied up on the back. She slowly awakens and starts demanding to know where she is and why she is wearing that outfit. Jonah pulls the bike over, determines that Stiletta is in her right mind and then he cuts her free. They continue on their way, with Hex bringing Stiletta up to date and everything that has happened since her kidnapping. they stop at a place called the Atomic Diner and Stiletta goes into the ladies room to change clothes.

Hex mosies inside and overhears the Road Reaper talking about being captured and held a slave. He relates the rumor that the brains of the operation is an alien that has actually traveled here from another time. At that point Jonah drops his tray of food, and mentally repeats "Came here from another time?"

Back at the compound, the aforementioned time traveling alien is deep in self contemplation. He ponders on the growing number of slaves but that the work is going too slowly. He had hoped to only enslave the dregs of society, in order not to disrupt the future, but he foresees that he will have to start kidnapping innocents in order to ensure his glorious dream of salvation.

Statistics for This Issue
Men killed by Jonah - 1, Drago bought the farm
Running Total: 478 (428 past, 50 future)
Jonah's Injuries - beaten up and thrown out a window by Stiletta.
Timeline - Whew! I have no idea how many days this one stretches across. The first part of the book appears to take place all in the same day, but once the Road Reaper escapes from the compound, he manages to travel 3,000 miles in a few hours?!?!?! It IS conceivable that he caught a flight, but he's a ROAD REAPER who has been a slave. I doubt that he has a ready supply of cash on hand. But Jonah and Stiletta only travel for what appears to be a few hours before encountering the Road Reaper. Ah, well, let's just ignore that whole "instant travel across country for the sake of the story" thing.

Well, we have Jonah Hex and Stiletta reunited, but there is that unknown side-effects thing that could cause problems. We learn a few more teasers about the Dogs of War who consist of a Roman Centurion that uses sunlight to issue force blasts from his hands, a flying Manta Ray that has paralyzing eye beams, a huge viking with a massive axe, a Ninja that can summon forth an inner demon, and Stanley Harris who has someone obtains chronal powers in his hands. The alien, while starting out enslaving only bad people now may have to enslave good people (is that worse? I thought enslaving anyone would be equally bad.) We also get very short glimpses into the Combine/Conglomerate/Other bad entity starting with the letter C.

All in all, the action kept coming and this story was a lot like the books near the end of Jonah Hex, where we got a page or two of everyone involved, just to keep the story rolling. Not sure if that is good or bad. It just is an observation.

Running out of time, so scans will be posted for this issue later tonight. Until then just imagine how glorious it all looks.

Next Issue: The Chain-Saw Killer returns with a new blade, the history of the mysterious alien and the Xxggs, the origin of the Dogs of War, Stiletta suffers adverse side-effects, and Jonah faces the one foe he cannot overcome... the 'artwork' of Keith Giffen. (the things I do for you guys! sheesh!)