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!!!


Utilityinfielder said...

Whoa. I feel like I need Dramamine just reading your description. Thanks for reading and reviewing this mess so the rest of planet earth doesn't have to.

Unknown said...

Call me a post nuke mutant, but I have a real soft spot for Giffen's art on these - stunning stuff.