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!)

1 comment:

Michael Xavier said...

Keith Griffin's art on this series was pitiful -- thank goodness he improved since then (at least I think so!) I'm not exactly sure what he was going for on this book, but it wasn't pretty. I vaguely remember him being BLASTED on the letter pages -- is that true or is my memory fuzzy?

We appreciate you going through it for us!