Monday, February 25, 2013

Jonah Hex #15 V2 "Retribution, Part 3 of 3"

Jonah Hex #15 V2 Mar '07
"Retribution, Part 3 of 3"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Jordi Bernet, art and cover

Wilcox Apache Internment Camp, 1868 - We see several soldiers abusing the Indians that have been placed in their charge when suddenly a rifle cracks and men start falling. We find Jonah Hex up in the overlooking crags carefully drawing a bead time and again, dropping the soldiers with little to no effort.  Finally Jonah rides into the fort with a wagon and addresses a very large Indian, Widow Maker. They exchange mild threats/greetings and it is revealed that they are old friends.

Jonah is there to enlist Widow Maker's help in killing Col Ackerman because Ackerman has killed the Apache tribe that bought Jonah. Widow Maker asks if it is the same tribe that scarred Jonah's face.

The Mark of The Demon - Jonah slowly rides towards the pueblo that he used to call home. When he arrives White Fawn greets him and says that Noh-Tante had said that Jonah was dead...things have changed. Then we learn that Noh-Tante and White Fawn are married. Jonah tells the chief of the chief's son's betrayal and lies and then challenges Noh-Tante to a battle to determine who is telling the true.

A friend of Noh-Tante provides the tomahawks and points out which one is damaged. Noh-Tante instructs him to be sure that Hex gets the faulty tomahawk. The battle begins and during the fight Jonah's tomahawk breaks forcing him to pull a knife to defend himself after Noh-Tante gloats that he knew of the faulty handle.

Unfortunately, Jonah kills Noh-Tante before the rest of the tribe can hear the confession. The penalty for cheating in a battle is death, however, since Jonah is a son of the chief, he shall not die. He will be branded so that the world will always know that Jonah carries the Mark of The Demon.

On the Warpath - Jonah demands an answer from Widow Maker who pledges the power of himself and his men. They ride off with Widow Maker asking if more men will join them. Hex replies in the negative.

Blood-Splattered Moon - Hex and Widow Maker hide in the rocks outside another fort. Hex points out the Gatling guns on the wall and says that they must be turned inward if they are to win.

Inside, Ackerman is questioning his men on the lack of word on the shipment of guns he is expecting from Fulsome. Ackerman instructs his fellows to dispatch someone to find Fulsome in the morning and then asks how the recruiting is going. During the discussion we learn that Ackerman's plan is to raise up an army and venture forth into Mexico, destroying Mexicans and Apaches and eventually becoming a sovereign nation.

A soldier enters and tells Ackerman that someone is there to see him.... Jonah Hex. Ackerman asks if Hex is alone and to have him carefully disarmed and brought in. Hex explains that he came to inform them that Fulsome and his gang are dead and that the guns have been 'distributed accordingly'.  Ackerman demands that Jonah get to the point and Hex tells him that Ackerman slaughtered an Apache camp not too long ago. Jonah wants to know why.

Ackerman states that he needs no reason to slaughter savages, what were they to Hex. Jonah explains that they were his family and he is here to avenge them. Ackerman tells his men to prepare for an attack and one man leaves. As he opens the door he is shot dead and we find the Apache storming the fort.

Jonah breaks out his knuckles and takes on Ackerman and the other man in the room. The Apache have topped the walls and Widow Maker is having free reign in the fort. Hex stabs the second man and Ackerman pulls his pistol but misses. The fight becomes hand to hand with Ackerman gripping Hex by the throat, choking the life from him. Jonah digs his thumbs into Ackerman's eyes, blinding him and then breaks a chair over his head, finally grabbing a busted chair leg and stabbing Ackerman to death with it.

Widow Maker bursts in just in time to prevent a soldier from shooting Hex. Widow Maker offers Jonah a chance to head to Mexico with he and his men but Jonah says that he ain't a joiner...not anymore. Widow Maker asks what Jonah will do. Jonah says he will continue doing what he's doing.

Finally Jonah rides off, declining the large Indian's offer of some of the gold they found in the fort.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 6 in the fort, Noh-Tante,  Ackerman and his toady for a total of 9
Running Total - 601 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 109 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Choked, kicked, punched
Timeline - 1868, flashback to 1866. The flashback covers a day. Current day, maybe a day or two.
Rape Percentage - 40% (6 out of 15, steadily going down)

All in all, a good Jonah adventure with a nice dose of origin and some healthy action at the end. There were several nice touches in the dialogue and Bennet's artwork fits in very very nicely. It was enjoyable to see the origin through the eyes of the J's and then did a fine job.

Next Issue - Things get really nasty and we get a double dose of ugly on top of it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Interview with Susan Hillwig #3

For the last two weeks we had parts 1 and 2. Below is part 3:

Matching Dragoons: Okay, let's go back in time and give you some ultimate control... Jonah Hex movie. Who do you cast? What story do you tell? Do you change anything from the comics (as sometimes movies do? Superman, Spider-Man...) Who directs, who writes? 
Susan: Here's the thing: There's some stuff about the movie that I liked.  Overall, this was quite the fail, but parts of it were good to me.  Josh Brolin did a fine job, I think, so we can keep him.  I have no real opinion on other actors to cast, or who'd be the best director, but as far as writers go, I think they need to get more comic book writers in on these movies, because the people writing these characters month after month have a better grasp of them than Hollywood does more often than not.  Seriously, did they ever think of handing this script over to Justin & Jimmy and asking how true to the character it sounded?  Or maybe they did and the producers said, "Feh, what do they know?  They write funnybooks."  In my brain, I've cooked up about a half-dozen scenes that smooth out a lot of the bumps for me -- if I had the time, I'd make a "novelization" fanfic, just to salvage something outta that mess.
Focusing on the broad strokes, though, I'd say the first and foremost mistake the movie folks made (after giving Hex supernatural powers) was putting him in a "save the world" type situation.  That ain't Hex, he's small-scale, downright selfish at times.  So that's the sort of story to go with, something that's small-scale to most folks but very personal for Hex.  Next thing to do is bump is up to a R rating in order to get rid of any worry about pulling our punches.  If there's blood, if it gets gruesome, so be it, Jonah's world ain't any prettier than he is.  Third thing is to forget that we're making a "comic book movie".  That layers on expectations that Jonah refuses to live up to, and is probably why they saddled him with powers and a sympathetic origin...because, you know, comics is all capes and muties, right?  Why do we have a guy whose only superpower is being ugly and refusing to die?  That won't draw people in, but big ol' explosions and Megan Fox will.
Alright, let me get off the soapbox and spin our new yarn.  Instead of Jonah narrating, we have Tallulah Black -- the majority of this will be from her viewpoint.  As with the story that introduced her, Tallulah's family is slaughtered by thugs hired by the government to reposess land.  She's all scarred up and wants revenge, and to get it, she seeks out a man whose cruelty and viciousness is legendary: Jonah Hex.  She's heard stories, she knows he's an ex-Confederate and (according to some tales) a traitor who let his men die at Fort Charlotte.  A lot of what's in those first Tallulah issues would be used here -- the training, hunting down those responsible -- along with a few scenes where Tallulah tires to puzzle out the true Jonah from the stories.  She'll press him about some things, and he'll either give a short answer that says little or he won't say a word at all.  This is how the whole question of his scar would be handled: no origin tie-in, no huge scene, just Tallulah asking, "Did it happen during the War?", followed by a split-second flashback that only shows a red-hot tomahawk pressed to Jonah's face as he screams, then back to the present and Jonah saying to Tallulah, "After."
As in the comics, the two will grow close, and at some point we'll get some late-night-by-the-campfire sex.  Then our tale will take a twist as they head to Virginia to get the last guy.  Once there, they get waylaid by Turnbull and the Fort Charlotte Brigade, who put out a false trail to lure Hex in so they could get their own revenge.  We'll use the kangaroo-court setting in WWT#30 as a basis for this, including locking Jonah and Tallulah in the shed for the night so they can be executed in the morning (she gets lumped in because she tried to help Hex fight off the Brigade guys).  While in there, Tallulah demands to know if all their accusations are true, and for the first time in our whole lil' movie, Jonah's gonna open up to another human being.  This would be part of a long flashback, showing Jonah's moral conflict over fighting for slavery, his surrender, and the backstabbing he got from the Union forces that led to all those Rebs dying.  After this catharsis, the duo manages to break out.  We get some more fighting, during which Tallulah gets seriously hurt, then a final conflict with Turnbull (maybe with him ending up on a pitchfork like he did the comic).  Jonah gets Tallulah to a doctor, and while she's still bedridden, he leaves her, saying that she's got more than enough experience to get the last guy on her own -- that small glimmer of humanity that peeked out in the shed has been smothered again.  The scene fades out, replaced by Tallulah with a baby girl in her arms -- the whole movie has simply been Tallulah telling the girl about her absent father, Jonah Hex.
There ya go, the perfect Hex movie...which probably still would've done horrid if you pitted it against Toy Story 3.
MD: Let's say All-Star Western is canceled and Jonah is thrown away completely from DC. Which character in DC now fills that Hex-Shaped hole in your pull list?
 Susan: If you mean a replacement of the same caliber, there really isn't one at the moment.  Thanks to this DCNu stuff, I'm buying fewer and fewer DC books.  Aside from All-Star Western, I get Green Lantern, Aquaman, The Shade, and I just jumped on Earth 2.  That's my DC quota right now.  Nothing that's currently being printed by them is capable of filling that hypothetical void, I'm sorry to say.  Matter of fact, I could probably walk comfortably away from DC if they axed ASW.  However, I can tell you who used to fill that hole in between the Hex Vertigo minis: Tommy Monaghan.  I devoured all 60 isses of Hitman, plus the few specials and guest-shots he appeared in.  I could totally picture Tommy and Jonah getting drunk together at Noonan's, then capping that off with a knock-down, drag-out brawl with some random strangers.  Of course, Tommy's dead now...unless Flashpoint retconned it.  Yeah, I'd take back every nasty thing I've ever said about The New 52 if it bought Tommy back!
MD: Does Marvel, or did they ever, have a character counterpart to Hex? I have one in mind, but I'll keep silent so as not to taint the jury.
 Susan: My Marvel Western experience is limited.  I dig Two-Gun Kid (he's an Avenger, what's not to love?), but I don't actively seek out his stories.  Him and Hex are like night and day, though, so no comparison there.  But if you're referring to any Marvel character, then Punisher's pretty close.  I know J&J used the phrase "Punisher in the Old West" when pitching the second series, so that might be why he comes to mind.  There's a good amount of Wolverine's personality in Jonah as well, that innate savageness that doesn't mix well with polite society.  Yeah, somewhere between Punisher and Wolverine, that's Jonah Hex.  That about what you had in mind?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jonah Hex #14 V2 "Retribution, Part 2 of 3"

Jonah Hex #14 V2 Feb '07
"Retribution, Part 2 of 3"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Jordi Bernet, art and cover 

Fathers and Sons Jonah Hex walks into a bar and sits down with his back to the wall, facing the only door. The local deputy asks the sheriff "Was that?" and the sheriff replies that the deputy better tell the Reverend to dust off his Bible. Shortly a young boy enters the bar and walks up to a lone man leaning on the bar, drinking. The boy entreats his father to come home for supper. The man turns on the boy, but the boy persists and finally the man slaps his son to the floor as we get a very close look at Jonah Hex watching the entire drama.

Greeley, Colorado, 1851 - Jonah, as a young boy is watching his father, Woodson, load up the covered wagon. Jonah is wanting to know why they have to leave and Woodson crawls out of the wagon and kicks Jonah into the dirt. He yanks the boy up by the hair and tells him to never question him again. He continues to verbally abuse Jonah until Jonah spits in his old man's face.

Woodson knocks him to the ground an Jonah lunges for Woodson's pistol. The father breaks a bottle over Jonah's skull and then drags him to the outhouse, lifts the seat and throws his son down into the gut wrenching filth. Throughout the night Jonah tries to crawl out, falling back time after time. When he finally emerges from the outhouse, he is greeted by darkness and his father sitting there with a pistol trained on him. Woodson hands Jonah the pistol and the chance to rid himself of the abusive father forever, but Jonah only stares at him silently. Woodson gives forth some words to live by and then tells Jonah to clean up, they leave for California in the morning.

Black Hills Apache Territory, Arizona, 1851 - Jonah and Woodson pull up to a pueblo in the wagon. He begs the Apache for safe passage through their land and is told that the toll must be paid in either gold or blood. Woodson says that he aims to make his fortune in California and return to Colorado to reclaim his lost farm. Woodson glances at Jonah, the son he has never wanted and has always hated and then kicks Jonah from the wagon, stating that the Apache can have him and do with him as they see fit. Woodson will return in six months and buy Jonah back three-fold.

A medicine man stares at Jonah, whispers some incantation and the Apache tell Woodson that they have a deal.

The Black Hills, Two Years Later - Jonah is out chopping wood when he hears a scream. He finds the chief being mauled by a puma, which Jonah quickly dispatches with the axe. Jonah then helps the chief back to camp and help. Because he saved the life of the chief, Jonah is elevated from slave to son of the chief and is looked upon lovingly by White Fawn. As they walk in the moonlight, they are approached by Noh-Tante, the chief's real son. Noh-Tante has no good feelings towards Jonah and tells him that the chief wants the two of them to raid a traveling Kiowa camp of their ponies.

They both head off into the darkness and Jonah makes short work of the lone sentry. Noh-Tante grabs the ponies and then trows a knife into Jonah's left leg and then sounds an alarm. Several Kiowa come rushing out and Jonah single-handedly kills the entire tribe.

Present Day - The man in the bar pulls a knife on the boy and the bartender is trying to diffuse the situation. The man pulls his pistol on the bartender and Jonah lifts his own pistol and tells the man to drop the knife. The man turns and growls that it ain't Hex's business. Jonah replies "It is now." and places a single bullet right above the man's eyes. He falls to the floor dead and.....

The boy grabs his father's pistol and aims at Jonah's back as Hex leaves the bar. The boy pauses and then drops the gun into the pool of his father's blood.

Hex is now on the street and six armed men approach, demanding that Jonah take them to where he has hidden Col. Ackerman's weapons. Things escalate and one man tells Hex that he will kill hex and he is dead serious. Hex replies "Got that partly right". (Yeah, I actually laughed at that line) A huge gunfight results and Jonah shoots five of the six men. The last one is about to shoot Jonah in the back when a bullet suddenly rips through the man's leg. He falls into the street as the boy from the bar walks out with a smoking pistol.

The boy says to Hex "You're welcome." Hex then finishes off the wounded man and walks down the street to his horse.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 6 in the street, 1 in the bar, 10 Kiowa, and a Puma (I'm not counting the puma) for a total of 17
Running Total - 592 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 100 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Knife in the leg, slapped, punched, bottle to the head, kick to the ribs, thrown into an outhouse.
Timeline - Well, 1868, flashback to 1851 and 1853. The flashback covers a few months and then a day. Current day; about 15-30 minutes.
Rape Percentage - 42% (6 out of 14)

Man o man o man. This one stays very very true to the original origin and does tie back into the Ackerman revenge storyline, but over all the absolute best panels are the two where Jonah kills the drunken father in the bar and considers it a favor to the boy.

In the boy, Hex saw everything that he was and knew what would become of the lad if he didn't intervene. I can only imagine Hex was wishing that someone seventeen years earlier would have done the same and rescued him from the hell that lived/lives.

Again, Justin and Jimmy produce a book that demands to be read out loud, with the framing captions ringing in the ear so very much like actual texts from that era.

Next Issue - Jonah returns to the Apache, in more ways than one.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Don Rosa retires

Don Rosa recently announced reasons behind his retirement here.  I have to admit, his retirement and all the reasons surrounding it are gut-wrenching, to say the least.

Back in the 90's, comics sucked. I don't care what ANYBODY says,


And I had two boys that were around 10 years old and I was wanting to share comics with them. BUT, comics in the 90's fell into one of two categories that I labeled Jugs and Demons, neither of which I felt was good reading material for young ones.

Then I stumbled upon a Scrooge McDuck comic and I thought it would be great to introduce my kids to Carl Barks. I flipped it open and it was not a Barks but had fantastic artwork! I finally realized that this was a NEW McDuck story. I had stumbled upon The Son of the Sun, a sequel of sorts to Lost in the Andes (well, it had a passing reference to it) and it contained Flintheart Glomgold!

Me and the boys read this book over and over and over again, laughing at every frame, gasping at the scope of the story and the attention to detail. Over the years we managed to grab a ton of stuff that Don Rosa did and Gladstone was one of our favorite publishers. Just a few weeks ago I texted Eldest Son "Zounds! It's the Law of Apex!" just for the heck of it.

Once I even emailed Mr. Rosa with a story idea concerning the Spyro Mounds and the Heavener Runestone and he politely replied that he had in fact researched both of those Oklahoma sights for possible inclusion in a story and decided against it.

I don't think there was any story of Mr. Rosa's that I felt let down by. A short story of Donald doing car maintenance made me laugh until I almost vomited, the Christmas story with the Gyro Gearloose ornaments had me in tears, and all of the stories with Glittering Goldie almost made me cry for real.

Don Rosa took a character he loved and built upon everything that Carl Barks had created. He took us back to the 1950's in Duckburg and made my family laugh when comics were designed to titillate and shock.

I wish him well and I hope he can rest somewhat knowing how much joy he brought not just comic readers in the 90's, and 00's but readers that will be discovering his stuff decades from now, just like some many have rediscovered Carl Barks.

Mr. Rosa, we thank you for all your time and energy. Once again, Thank you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Interview with Susan Hillwig #2

The first part of the interview is here:

Matching Dragoons: I'd like to hear your overall impressions regarding:
The John Albano Hex
Susan: He and Tony DeZuniga started the ball rolling, so it's hard to find any fault there.  They laid the basic groundwork for Hex's personality, and just about every writer since has stuck by it.  The plots may change, the environments may change, but Jonah's reactions to those things have remained remarkably consistent over forty years.  There's been no "evolution of the character" like there's been with Batman, who has very distinct eras that don't mesh very well with each other -- you can't drop a 1950s Batman into a 1980s story or vice-versa -- and I credit that to Albano putting forward such a strong-yet-simple idea of what Jonah's about.  The fact that he did it in only 10 issues makes it more there's a fill-in issue in the midst of it that lots of fans probably don't notice unless they look at the credits box!  The character's only about two years old by that point, and already so much of his personality was immutable that a writer stepping in for just one issue gets it.  The only shortcomings are that Albano chose to leave nearly all of Jonah's past a mystery, and this teasing he did in the narration boxes, claiming that Jonah may be supernatural to some degree but never offering proof.  It helped to set the mood, but it would come around to bite us in the ass two decades later.

MD:  How about the Michael Fleisher Hex?

Susan: He is to Jonah Hex what Peter David is to the Hulk: neither created the character they're best known for, but they each put in a dozen years of work crafting landmark tales that the majority of fans know and love.  Nearly everything we know about Hex -- from childhood to death and beyond -- comes from Fleisher.  This is where the lion's-share of Jonah's humanity comes from, all this backstory Fleisher laid down, and I don't think the character would be half as interesting without it.  He gave us Turnbull and the Fort Charlotte Brigade, he married Hex off and gave him a kid, and the women...Lordy, this endless parade of women!  It got rather silly near the end of Fleisher's run, what with jumping from Mei Ling to the Cassie Wainwright flashbacks to Emmylou Hartley, then doing a "Betty or Veronica"deal with Emmy and Mei Ling, then Jonah shacks up with Adrienne Sterling in New Orleans...he was bagging gals as often as he was shooting outlaws.  Looking back, you can see Fleisher running out of steam in those last 20 issues because nearly all of them revolved in some way around Jonah having woman trouble.
Of course, Fleisher also gave us "Future Hex", which could have been rather good if he'd thought things through a bit more.  The series was non-stop action with nary a character moment in sight, which is just a dang shame.  One of the best things about any Jonah Hex story are the character moments, and you'd think dropping him in such a drasitically different environment like that would be the perfect opportunity, but we get woefully few.  Fleisher also should have taken advantage of the fact that there was no Comics Code on it.  I think he got away with more in over 100 Code-approved Jonah Hex stories then he did in those 18 without it, and again, that's a shame.  You can do a lot of "what could have been" speculation with the "Future Hex" stuff, but that won't change what we actually got.

MD: Joe Lansdale Hex?

I have to admit to a certain soft-spot for the Vertigo minis, not because they're bettter, but because they were the first "new" stories I read.  I only had a handful of Fleisher issues -- including the Spectacular -- by the time Two-Gun Mojo came out, so this was my regular diet of Hex for a few years.  I wasn't keen on all the profanity and overt sexual references, but I could still see the same ol' Jonah Hex lurking beneath that, so I tried to focus on the man himself.  I enjoyed his self-depreciative humor (making up excuses for how he got his scar), and a lot of his dialogue rings true to his character, like in Riders of the Worm when he tells a black man why he fought for the South...I've quoted that speech specifically when talking about Jonah's feelings on slavery because it sums him up so well.  Lansdale may have really fouled up when it came to what constitues a "normal" Hex story, but he nailed Jonah's personality.  Plus we have to give him credit for keeping the character alive in a decade that was very heavy on superheroes -- if it wasn't for Vertigo, there would have been no place for a character like Hex to even exist in the 1990s.  So like it or lump it, at least we had something.

MD: Justin and Jimmy Hex?

Susan: The total package, really.  You get the sort of tales that wouldn't be out-of-place in an Albano or Fleisher issue, and they also push the boundaries like Lansdale did in Vertigo without being offensive purely for shock value (okay, we need to talk to them about the whole rape thing, but otherwise...).  They respect what came before but aren't afraid to add to the mythos, like putting forth the idea that Jonah's dad was intentionally "toughening him up" as opposed to randomly abusing him.  The best/worst thing about the first 70 issues is the "done in one" concept: it gives you the quick fix like many of the old tales did, but in some cases J and J could have comfortably stretched an idea into a two-parter.  And on that note, I found "Six-Gun War" to be a major was too long.
As for All-Star Western, it's been a very solid read so far.  Aside from one or two forced lines, it seems like J and J still have free reign over what to do with Jonah, which is great.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  The only thing I'd change is to give Jonah back his internal monologue, either with old-school thought balloons or caption boxes like Landale used.  I've missed that a lot since J and J brought the character back -- without that monologue, Jonah's stories can sometimes be eerily silent.

MD: Outside of the appearances in his own books, what do you consider the best and worst depictions of Jonah.

Susan: Worst depiction?  It's a tie between Time Masters #3 and Return of Bruce Wayne #4.  He's just acting so out-of-character in both of those (and the art of the latter is atrocious...Jonah looks like a monkey in one panel, I swear).  In Time Masters, he literally falls asleep on the job, and in RoBW, he doesn't really do anything at all, he's just...there.  On a side note, both stories feature Vandal Savage as well, and me and a guy had a brief online discussion as to what sort of hoodoo Vandal's pulling on Jonah that he keeps doing jobs for the guy, yet he's never up to snuff when he does 'em.
Second-worst would probably be the female Hex stuff that popped up during Karl Kesel's run on Superboy.  Jimmy Palmiotti once told me that not every writer can get Jonah's voice right, by which I presume he also means his personality, and with that in mind, I think I can confidently say that gal wasn't a possessed/reincarnated/what-have-you version of Jonah Hex, she was just terribly confused.  Ignore the busty redhead for a moment and just read the word balloons: it doesn't really sound like him.  Matter of fact, this "Hex" sounds too polite, what with calling everybody "suh" (that's "sir" for you Yankees).  The way the gal talked before she got scarred up is more Hex-y than afterward. (God, I just realized that this version counts towards what I was saying earlier about Jonah finding a place to exist in the 1990s...boy, what a choice to make, eh?  Profane occult tales or transsexual superheroics, take your pick!)
Other comics appearances outside of his own are usually decent, like the various JLA guest-shots that Gerry Conway wrote (he rang true character-wise, it's just the plots that were lousy).  John Byrne did a bit with Hex in one of his Generations minis that was good, and there's the issue of Booster Gold where the two guys got blitzed...that's so in-character it's cliche!  Plus Seth Albano did his granddaddy proud with the holiday story he did a couple of years back.  Now, if you want to leave comics behind for a sec, then I have to say that the animated versions of Hex are the best depictions of him outside of his own book.  There's something about watching him walk around and talk (or growl, rather) that just makes me smirk every single time.  I've talked to a lot of folks who've said that's where their first intro to Jonah Hex came from, and aside from odd things like making him look so old in the Batman:TAS episode, or the fancy-dan ray guns he uses in The Brave and the Bold, they're getting pure, unadulterated Hex right from the get-go.  If that don't hook 'em on the character, nothing will.

MD: Do you think that the backup feature in ASW could lead into more western comics? Who would you like to see have their own book?

Susan: Geez, that's tough.  The trouble is getting folks in the door in the first place.  Some people can't get past the word "Western", or they're like myself, they're very particular.  I read Hex books, of course, and I've got all the Bat Lash stuff, plus I buy The Sixth Gun from Oni Press, but I have little interest in most other Western comics.  I'll look, but being a Western desn't guarantee a buy.  If DC decided to try out another Western title, be it anthology or a solo book, they'd have to find a way to hook people right off the bat, show them that there's more to being a Western than sweaty horses and Injun-fightin'.  The whole Gotham ploy seemed to work for All-Star Western -- it got new people in the door, and many stayed -- so I suppose a similar tactic could be used, like maybe a title featuring Brian Savage playing lawman in Opal City (which many have suggested), especially if you got James Robinson on beard.  Can you imagine using all that old Starman heat to boost sales?  Thinking about it now, I'm surprised DC never did that during the original run.  Myself, I'd like a Nighhawk and Cinnamon book.  You could play up the steampunk aspects more because of Hannibal's "fix-it man" background (which would, again, get people in the door) and you can have fun with the romantic angle.  Plus it'd be nice to see Cinnamon finally get a book after being denied one due to the "DC Implosion".

Next Time: Recasting the Jonah Hex movie and life after All-Star Western?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jonah Hex #13 V2 "Retribution Part 1 of 3"

Jonah Hex #13 V2 Jan '07
"Retribution, Part 1 of 3"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Jordi Bernet, art and cover

The Wyoming Badlands, 1868 - Two wagons sit under a full moon and four men huddle around a fire that is battling back the Wyoming darkness. Bix, Rufus, Pete, and Captain Fulsome are discussing their business, running stolen rifles down into Mexico.

Bix heads out into the black to relieve himself and during the continuing talk we learn that Fulsome served with Colonel Ackerman in the Confederacy. Rufus staggers back towards the fire and falls down, face first, a tomahawk embedded in his back, stuck clean through a wanted poster of the now dead Rufus (wanted for Murder, Train Robbery, and Rape(?!?)). Bix starts to panic and states "It's HIM".

Fulsome gives orders to kill the fire and cover the wagons. A rope leaps through the air and Pete finds himself yanked off his feet and drug into the dark. Bix makes it to the wagons and suddenly finds a knife in his chest, piercing the wanted poster with his likeness. Fulsome makes it to a wagon, yanks back the canvas and drags out one of two women and holds a pistol to her neck. (the woman says words to the effect "not again", so I am taking that as impending rape)

Fulsome shouts that he will kill the girl if he isn't allowed to leave. He should have killed 'him' at Fort Donelson and the camera slowly pulls back into the night.

Fort Donelson, Tennessee, 1862 - A Union wagon train is slogging through a downpour and a few Confederate soldiers rise out of the underbrush as the wagons roll by. They climb on to the back of the wagons in order to gain access to the Fort in the distance. Once inside, the Rebs attack and open the gates to the Fort, allowing the rest of their men access to the Fort. One Reb in particular seems awfully fond of using a tomahawk.

The Union forces finally get a Gatling gun set up and mow down the Confederates as they enter the Fort. Colonel Ackerman and Captain Fulsome stand over the bodies littering the ground. Ackerman looms above our downed Jonah Hex, noting that rumor has it he was raised by Apaches and that Jonah seems to have an affinity for being on the losing side. Ackerman orders all the bodies bayoneted except for Hex, of whom an example shall be made.

The Cumberland River, Sept 18th, 1862 - Day breaks and Jonah is tied to a large wooden X mounted on a raft. He has been stripped naked and covered with a Confederate flag. Ackerman and Fulsome are there and Ackerman gives Fulsome the order to proceed. Fulsome produces a large whip commences to whip Hex. Hex whispers that he will kill Fulsom but the promise rings false on the Captain's ears. He orders Hex set adrift and the raft is pushed out into the current.

For two full days and two full nights, Jonah hangs from the cross, mosquitoes and other bugs feasting in his bloody open wounds. On the third day, Jonah is sighted by a family on the river bank performing a baby's baptism.  The raft is caught and drug ashore. It is determined that Hex is alive, just barely.

Back at the house, we find Jonah on a table, with the father performing surgery on him, removing bullets, shrapnel, and maggots. The son (not the baby) asks if Hex will die. The father responds that the Good Lord saw fit to bring Hex to them so they will do what they can to save him. The boy continues to talk of the evil of Yankees. The father says that Yankees are men, differing only in their beliefs and measure of their brutality.

The boy mentions that he is scared and the father reassures him that the North will never reach this far south.

Some undisclosed time later, the father is reading in the paper that Lincoln is expected to issue an Emancipation Proclamation. Jonah staggers into the room. The father explains Jonah's situation and that with the damage to his throat, his voice will probably never be more that a coarse whisper. Jonah can stay until he heals, but once he is able to ride, he will be outfitted with a horse, clothes and a rifle.

January 17th, 1863 - During a thunderstorm, three Confederate soldiers come to the door of the house. The father opens the door.

Jonah and the boy are in the barn, saddling a horse when they hear a gunshot. Jonah grabs an axe and heads for the house. He finds the father in a pool of blood and the three soldiers grabbing the mother. She shouts that Confederates don't act tin this manner and they explain that they are not soldiers but they stole the uniforms in order to gain entry to homes.

Jonah bursts in and buries the blade of the axe into the head of one man, grabs his pistol and shoots the second. The last man reaches for his weapon and his head is deftly removed from his torso, courtesy of Jonah's axe.

Several hours later we see Jonah burying the father as the son looks on. The family mourns the loss of their husband and father. That night Jonah pays his respects and rides off.

The Wyoming Badlands, 1868 - Fulsome is still shouting to the dark the conditions of his letting the woman go. A pistol barrel gently eases against the back of his neck and we hear "Drop the gun." Fulsome states that it was Ackerman that slaughtered the Apache, Fulsome had nothing to do with it. The darkness replies "His time is coming."

Fulsome is grasping at straws now. He says that Ackerman can't be taken down, he has too many men, he'll be too angry to find his rifles stolen, he won't stop until Hex his dead. Hex orders Fulsome on his knees, places the wanted poster against Fulsome's chest and says...

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 10 (Fulsome and his men, three 'Confederates', two in the fort and I'm not counting all the others dead in the fort) 
Running Total - 585 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 83 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Dehydration, exposure, shot, whipped.
Timeline - Well, 1868, flashback to 1862 and into 1863. The flashback covers four months, current day; about 15-30 minutes.
Rape Percentage - 46% (6 out of 13)

This story caused a lot of speculation when it was announced. How close would J and J stick to the Fleisher origin?  The details regarding the Fort Charlotte massacre were changed, pretty much removing Quentin Turnbull from the picture (for now) and the entire scene with the whipping brought up concerns that maybe THAT is how Jonah got his scars. So far (I'm trying to not give things away), I'm liking the story and I especially loved the explanation of Jonah's voice, something that we will never hear in a comic but allows us to cast his voice as that of Clint Eastwood.

Bernet's art, first time here, was slightly cartoony but gritty enough and fluid enough to really really work for me. In fact, I like more photo-realistic art myself, but Bernet won me over eventually. In some cases his work, cinematically, works as well as that of Ross, especially here...

All in all, a great issue and a fantastic place for folks to jump on board and learn more about the scarred bounty hunter.

Next Issue - Woodson Hex, The Apache and two panels that sum up the entirety of Jonah Hex's life.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Interview with Susan Hillwig #1

When folks ask about people that have chronicled Jonah's adventures one will quickly answer Albano, Fleisher, Palmiotti and Gray, Lansdale, Hillwig......... HILLWIG?!?!?

Yup, Susan Hillwig whose writings over at DC2 probably rank her as the third most prolific Hex writer (behind J/J and Fleisher and ahead of Albano and Lansdale). Starting in 2009 (yeah, I move slow) and into last year I shot her a few questions and one thing that I have learned from all of this is that if you ask a writer to write their answers, you'll get some greatly detailed answers! So, without further ado, I present to you the woman that explained how Jonah got home from the future...Susan Hillwig

Matching Dragoons:  So tell us a little bit about yourself, at least as much as you want published to the entire world.
Susan: Well, I'm a mid-30's gal living in the frozen wilds north of Detroit with my husband and a massive load of toys and books.  I've been reading comics since I was about ten or so, and started making a serious stab at writing around high school.  I'm currently shopping around an original novel I've written, though I've had no luck landing either an agent or publisher (if anybody reading this works in those fields, drop me a line).  It's a mish-mash of Western and fantasy along the lines of "Connecticut Yankee", with some horror and spiritual aspects thrown friends call it the "genre-buster".  Somewhere in between that and the fanfiction, I manage to hold down a paying job.
MD: Would you like to talk about Weird Western Quarterly?

Susan: Hope you've got a lot of free time, because I'll talk your ear off about it.
MD: Tell us how it started and how you got involved.
Susan: To do that, we've gotta take a step back to early 2005, when DC announced that Jonah Hex was getting a title again.  I got crazy-excited about that, but was also holding a grudge because of the whole "Future Hex" thing...y'know, not having any proper answers regarding how Jonah got back home.  Knowing that DC was very likely never going to give us a solution to the problem, I decided to cook up my own.  I knew nothing about fanfic at the time, I simply had a lot of writing experience and a desire to finally set the record straight, and was actually going to post my entire story directly on a DC Message Boards thread when I stumbled across  So I signed up, then spent months pouring over comics and bugging people online for minor bits of info until I was sure I had a concrete, in-continuity story that nobody could disagree with, which became "The Long Road Home".  Of all the Hex stories I've done, that's still my pride and joy -- I still get reviews from time to time about it, so that makes me happy.
In the midst of doing this, DC2 site founder David Charlton was soliciting around the DCMB for writers -- DC2 had not yet launched, and the staff was rather slim to start.  I told David that I had a story in progress over on, and it turned out he'd been following it, so we got to talking.  The whole idea of DC2 was a "square one" sort of approach, so my story wouldn't work there (it relied too much on established DCU history), and his suggestions of titles for me to work on weren't jazzing me, so I said, "What if I did all the DC Western guys in one book?  You know, not just Hex, but Nighthawk and Johnny Thunder and Bat Lash and all that?"  I also had the condition of not being a monthly title, just so I could still work on my novel and have a life.  I didn't think David would go for it, but he responded with, "Great!  We'll call it Weird Western Quarterly."  So basically the book was tailor-made for me.
I've done other work on the site since then, like the first 5 issues of Seven Soldiers of Victory and a couple quick stories here and there, but mainly I'm just the WWQ gal...I've pretty much got the run of the entire 19th Century.  There is another writer, Don Walsh, who does the Johnny Thunder stories on the title (and who also took over SSoV once I was done), but other than that, I'm in charge of the book's direction.  I get to decide which character gets the spotlight every three months, story-wise, and I talk to the cover artists about what the art will be on each issue.  I like to think of it as a companion book to Jonah's regular DCU title: you can read both and get a fuller picture of both Hex and the rest of DC's Western era.
MD:  Why Jonah Hex? What draws you to write about the scar-faced bounty hunter?
Susan: There's two reasons.  The first is to bring attention to the character.  I've run into a lot of people the last 4 years who've said, "I only know Hex from the Batman and Justice League cartoons," or that their only comics exposure to him is his cameo in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  So I write these stories that revisit events from Jonah's past or expand on some small thing we know about him for those people in particular, the ones that know nothing about him but his face and his name.  There's the old comics adage that every issue is someone's first...well, for some folks, my stories are the first time they've heard about Jonah's time as an Army scout or his marriage to Mei Ling.  One reader compared what I do to a novelization, filling in the blanks between the comics panels with prose...and in some instances, there's a lot of blanks, or there's inconsistencies, or conflicting dates.  So I also get a chance to straighten out where things are crooked, or at least draw the best conclusion based on evidence at hand.  That's when I have to walk a fine line, though, because I've had people take what I've written about Hex as gospel, so I can't just spew out anything without considering its impact on the character.  In an early story, I touched upon the notion that Jonah might be illegitimate since it's been implied in pervious comics that his mother slept around, but I never said it straight out, nor would I ever unless I knew for sure, because that's an earth-shattering change in my opinion.
The second reason, which goes hand-in-hand with the first, is pure love of the character.  If you push aside the future junk and the worm-creatures and such, you get a real person, who's had all the sorts of ups and downs you get with real life, and who is far from perfect.  I mean, he comes from a broken family, he's a drunk, he can be cruel in one moment and tender in the watch him go through these trials and sometimes it makes your heart ache.  I've read Hex stories where I've genuinely felt bad for what's happened to him -- Jonah Hex (vol. 2) #50  is a recent example of that, it's just beautiful and terrible at the same time.  I just have this bizarre devotion to somebody that doesn't immediately come off as likeable, and that unlikeability almost reinforces the's weird.  Let me put it like this: When I first started reading comics, I would eat up anything with Batman or any of those related characters in it, but the last few years, I've just found myself not caring about them, comics-wise -- they've skewed so far from what got me interested in them that I've stopped following those stories.  But when they threw Jonah Hex into these crazy-ass situations in the future and over in Vertigo, I hated the stories but still cared about Jonah.  I didn't want to abandon him, I just wanted to see him get through this nonsense.  You care about this guy so much that you want to see him have a good day, just once.
MD: Would you jump at a chance to write an issue of Jonah Hex? Have you ever submitted a story to DC?
Susan: I've never submitted to DC directly.  The closest I ever came was when I submitted an open letter to Dan Didio on the DCMB months before the first new issue of Jonah Hex came out.  I stated what I hoped to see in the new series, and touched upon the fact that I was working on this fanfic that would "fix" the Future Hex problem.  I offered to give them the idea straight out on the condition that they publish it and make it canon, adding, "If you don't do something about this, I will."  So I basically threatened DC, for all the good it did.
There's this honor-system sort of rule that DC employees can't read fanfic, and fanfic writers can't make money off of their has to do with copyright laws and keeps regular folks like me from getting sued.  So even though Jimmy & Justin know I write this stuff, they can never "officially" read it and I can't send it to DC.  Plus it's hard for a writer to break into comics because writing talents are hard to judge at a glance, unlike artistic talent -- if you're a writer, it's best to have a good artist backing you up when you're shopping around your story idea.  All in all, I have no real desire these days to work in comics, but if I get anywhere with my novel, and if DC one day rang me up and said, "How'd you like a gig?"...yeah, I'd jump at it.  Of course, my smartass self would slide a copy of "The Long Road Home" across the desk first, just to see if they'd bite.  For now, though, I think Jimmy & Justin are doing a very good job with Jonah Hex, and I wish them a long and healthy run with the old man.
Next Time: We get Susan's insight into Jonah Hex as presented by the other writers.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Jonah Hex V2 #12 "Bloodstained Snow"

Jonah Hex #12 Dec '06
"Bloodstained Snow"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - Paul Gulacy, art - Luke Ross, cover

The Bounty Killers - Three men on horseback ride through a crippling snowstorm into town. The ride up to the general store and encounter the owner, Mr. Dice. He calls them "Mormon scum" and orders them out of town. They respond that their women and children are starving up on the mountain and all they want is food and blankets. Just then five of the most evil looking people walk up the street, explaining that the Mormons have no rights once they stepped into Dice Valley.

  They introduce themselves as Ringo, Red Crow, Crazy Susan, Earl the Wretch and Doc Grummet. Ringo quickly explains that Dice has hired them to kill the Mormons at $500 a head and $250 or kids. The riders say they have no quarrel and Ringo guns all three of them down (with a double barrel shotgun, meaning that he had time to reload.) Two of the men are dead and the third starts crawling away in the mud.

 Red Crow catches him and punches him with a barbed wire fist. They hold the man down as the Doc starts practicing his hideous craft.

Two Sides to Every Mountain - Jonah Hex and his horse struggle across the mountain in a blinding storm. Finally his horse collapses and Jonah continues on until he stumbles upon the Mormon camp. Jonah collapses himself, unconscious in the snow. The Mormons pull their guns, flip him over and then drag him into a tent.

Five Fingers for Five Killers - Jonah awakens to the beautiful face of Anna Wainwright. She informs Hex that the camp had to eat his horse. Jonah says that he would have done the same. Anna asks if Jonah is a soldier (not anymore) and Mr. Dice sent him (never heard of him). Just then the leader of the Mormon, Molokai, storms into the tent, demanding to know Jonah's intentions. Jonah says he was planning on crossing the mountain to find work. Molokai asks if his work is collecting bounties when another member of the camp rushes in, calling out for Molokai. Jonah grabs the man's shotgun and starts demanding some answers.

Molokai explains that Dice owns the general store in town and has put a bounty on everyone in the camp. They are Mormons, persecuted, hunted by state governments and non-Mormons alike. Dice refuses to sell supplies to them and when they saw Hex's weapons, they figured he was hired by Dice. The man tells Molokai that Bingham won't last long. Molokai asks about the others, only to be answered with silence.

They go to another tent to find Bingham, he teeth pulled and his tongue cut out. Molokai asks how many men are in town and Bingham holds up five fingers and dies. Molokai tells everyone to pack up, they are heading out. Jonah tells them they have another choice and Anna asks if Hex can help them.

Next we see Jonah riding into town and he walks into Dice's store. Dice is behind the counter and as Hex enters he reaches for a pistol hidden behind the counter. Hex tells Dice that he wants all the blankets he has, fifty pounds of beef, and...

Dice interrupts, placing the pistol on the counter, commenting that it's a large order for just one man. It wouldn't happen that Hex is working for some illegal squatters, would it? Jonah states that he wants all the blankets, fifty pounds of beef and...

Dice pours a drink, saying they should discuss it cool and civilized. Just suppose that Jonah IS working for an 'unnamed party', could he be swayed by a sizable financial investment to divulge the location of the camp or even more if Hex were to lead a group of Dice's men up the mountain once the storm passes. Hex turns him down. Dice asks how Hex came to answer their request for aid and Jonah states that he didn't, their request was for him to increase the cemetery population by one, but that doesn't serve Jonah's interests.

What does serve his interests?

All the blankets Dice has and fifty pounds of beef. Dice smiles and asks if Hex has ever heard of the Mountain Meadow Massacre? A bunch of Mormons attacked a wagon train heading for California, killing everyone in the group. Understanding THAT, then Hex can clearly see that Mormons need to be driven from the land and eradicated if need be. During this time, Ringo and the others come in and disarm Hex and order him to lead them to the Mormon camp.

Later Jonah is on horseback riding up the mountain, Ringo, Red Crow, Earl and Crazy Susan right alongside (Doc stayed behind as a body guard for Dice). Suddenly there is gunfire from some overhanging rocks and they realize that they have been ambushed. The Mormon men spring from their cover and take out Earl and Ringo but not before Ringo kills one of theirs. Susan is killed trying to escape. Jonah, unarmed, charges Red Crow, knocking him off his horse. Hex and Red Crow battle in the snow until Jonah plucks a dropped gun from the snow and drops Red Crow.

The Mormons step out from their cover. Jonah, the smoking pistol in his hand, says "You used me." Molokai explains that they only took Jonah's advice and made a choice. Hex asks if Molokai was at the Massacre. Molokai says that he was. Anna was one of the children he adopted from that day and says that he was only concerned with the welfare of his people. Jonah argues that Mountain meadows wasn't survival, it was murder to which Molokai asks how many men did Jonah kill in the war?

Hex asks what is next. Molokai wants Hex to lead them into town.

Gainful Employment - Dice is in his store when the door swings open to the silhouette of Jonah Hex, bloody knife in one hand, small gunny sack in the other. Dice hollers for Doc and grabs his pistol. Jonah throws the knife into Dice's gun arm, grabs him by the hair of his head and smashes his face into the counter. Jonah then tosses the gunny sack onto the counter and Doc's head rolls out. Jonah yanks the knife out of Dice's arm and states that he wants fifty pounds of beef, all the blankets and his guns back.

Jonah drags Dice into the back storeroom, asking how much Dice was going to pay Ringo and his bunch. Dice begs for a doctor and says that he was paying five hundred a head but would go up to ten for someone experienced as Jonah. Hex tells Dice he won't let him bleed to death and pulls a paper from his coat as he takes his guns from Dice.

Dice starts stammering, wanting to know about his offer to Hex and why Hex is aiming at him. Jonah tells him that the Mormons gave him a large parcel of land if he only take care of Dice. Since Jonah can't be around all the time to check on his investment, he could hire the Mormons to watch over it for him. He also won't let Dice bleed to death and shoots him in the head.

Hex rides out of town, the headless corpse of Doc in the street.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed By Jonah - 2
Running Total - 575 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 73 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Possible hypothermia and punched with a barbed-wire covered fist
Timeline - It's unknown how long Jonah was unconscious in the camp, possibly a day or so, enough time for Bingham to make it back from town. The Mountain Meadow Massacre was in 1857, Jonah, at one point states that it was 'years ago' and since Hex was scarred in 1866, this will obviously take place after that. Also, since Anna was a child during the massacre but now she's grown the timeline is holding up here. So this one is 1867 or later.
Rape Percentage - 42% (5 out of 12)

Overall I really enjoyed the story. Jonah gets the short end of the stick, being forced to lead Ringo and the his bunch to the camp and then getting lied to and ambushed by the Mormons, but he comes out on top in his own style. Regarding Ringo and his bunch, well, let me tell ya. When I first saw them on that splash page I thought YAY, the Injustice Society of the 1800's, but as things went on, I liked what Justin and Jimmy did with this. They didn't give us an origin or explanation of each character. Their names and actions were enough. Normally when we meet a "band' of outlaws, at least in superhero books, we have to go through long exposition about their powers and what not.

 Not here, you just get their names and you hang on to learn from their actions. I enjoyed that a lot. Justin and Jimmy also did this in their Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters books. Nice touch.

The art? well, I'm not a fan of Gulacy. The panel borders are black and if the panels themselves are mostly dark, it can cause comprehension problems for me (but I'm old and stuff like that). His stuff is gritty enough but at times his faces were hard to keep straight. I identified people more by their environment and clothing than by their face. Also, Jonah's facial wound kept changing texture. Huh?

The cover by Ross was beautiful, but sadly, it's a bad cover. I don't think it draws the reader in to the story and looking at it amongst a stack of books, I couldn't tell you what story inside could possibly contain.

Next Issue - The Origin of Jonah Hex!!!

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Yeah, well, let's see how long he lasts THIS time!

 MONTHS! It has been MONTHS!

Of course, you knew that. It has been months since I climbed up into the blogger saddle, but it's Groundhog Day (as I write this) so I thought I would celebrate.

As I mentioned quite some time ago, Eldest Son got married and we are enjoying having First Daughter-in-Law. I had some travel for work along with selling about 1000+ board games for a friend. I attended Boardgamegeek.con (yeah, CON) down in Dallas in November and failed to defend my title in the Battling Tops Tournament

Christmas came and went (mucho mucho fun had by all) and January debuted the brand new Matching Dragoon Household Purge! Lovely Wife and I decided that if we didn't handle it or use it (whatever it was) within the last year, then it was probably getting sold/donated/tossed.

This meant that every cupboard, closet, under the bed, shelf, and...gulp....the garage would be emptied, sorted, and then dealt with. Several plastic container tubs later we now have all of our Christmas stuff out of the attic and on shelves in the garage

NOTE: A lot of folks are probably saying "Why don't you just store stuff in the basement?" To that I reply, "You ain't never been to Oklahoma. We ain't got none of them fancy schmancy basement things. Our house are built on concrete slabs.. AND WE LIKE IT!"

Storage in Ok is either in the house, the garage (where is gets hot), or the attic (where it gets REAL HOT)

So, Christmas/Easter/Fall decorations occupy several shelves in the garage. Also, my workbench was near the front of the garage to get light, outside access and such. However, when both cars are in the garage, I couldn't get to my tools. I decided to rearrange, thus catapulting the Purge into an Overhaul.

Well, the Purge is winding down and I am in the Sorting Tools and Various Items phase. Next week we will start on...THE ATTIC!!!!

Also, Lovely Wife has decided to start a blog of her own, learning HTML, and linking and posting and self inflicted deadlines and such. Hers is called Quick and Easy Stamping and it's all about making cards with rubber stamps and creative things like that. Go over, take a look, ooh and ahhh and stuff like that.

Anyway, I'm back and 2013 looks to be an interesting year.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Jonah Hex #11 "The Hanging Tree"

Jonah Hex V2 #11 Nov, 2006
"The Hanging Tree"
Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, story - David Michael Beck, art - Art Thibert, cover

Our tale begins at night with Jonah Hex, hands bound behind him, hanging by the neck in a tree with other hanging bodies as well as skeletons. Standing below the tree, watching Hex twitch and kick, are the freaks from the Romanoff Traveling Side Show. The freaks watch a short while longer, then pack up and move on.

  An unknown amount of time later, a rider comes along and that rider uses his whip to snap the limb that Hex is tied to. The rider?..... El Diablo. Diablo cuts him loose and gives him some water along with a warning to not tease the Devil.  Diablo mentions that Lazarus is in nearby Encita but he must leave now since he has work to do.

 Next day, Encita, California. We find Jonah Hex riding into town and proceeds to the Grand Hotel. As he approaches, a man starts to stop him, holding out a hand to stop Hex. Jonah grabs the mans fingers, bending them backwards, breaking them, and then proceeds to beat the man into submission. Hex's arm is stopped by Lazarus Lane. They have a quick, unfriendly exchange and then head into the local saloon.

 Inside, Hex is pushing down a meal and Lane is quizzing him as to why the Carny folk were after Hex. Jonah explains that he killed their boss. Lane warns Hex that things are changing, the frontier is vanishing and there will soon be no room for people that hand out their own justice. Hex mentions that at least he doesn't wear a stupid mask. Lane asks Jonah how he is going to move forward since he has no money, no guns, no horse (despite riding into town on one). Just then a cowboy walks into the saloon and Jonah stands, saying that things have a way of working out.

We next see Jonah dragging that cowboy through the street to the sheriff to collect a $500 reward.

The Carnival of Torture and Death - It's night, an unknown number of days later and an unknown distance away. The Romanoff carnival is being terrorized by about a dozen men and several of the freaks lay dead. The tattooed lady is being drug across the desert by a man who states that has broker her spirit but she should be good for a few more rides. Another man comes up and drags her off, going past two men who have tied up the Siamese twins and are trying to pull them apart. Another man has a freak tied to the wagon's wheel and is heating up a stick with which to burn him. The man says that since Romanoff ain't around to pay the Pearson Gang, they will do what they damn well please.

  The tattooed lady is begging with her tormentor to let her go and when he demands that she tell him his fortune she quotes Revelation 19:11. The man tells her that the Good Book ain't gonna help her none. Just then Jonah Hex rides up behind him and says that HE will help her and then shoots the man dead.

  Back at the camp a few men spot two pairs of weirdly glowing eyes. Thinking they belong to wolves, they shoot into the night. The eyes, however, belong to El Diablo & his horse. Hex rides into the campfire light and the men ask who in the hell Hex is. Jonah says that if they want to know about hell, just turn around. El Diablo comes into the light and snaps one man's neck with his whip. Jonah shoots two more and Diablo leaps from his horse as three other men try to gun him down.

  The campfire explodes into an inferno and consumes one man as Diablo stands unscathed in the flames. Hex's horse kicks in one man's face and Jonah guns down two more men. With all of the men dead, Diablo states that vengeance is served. Hex disagrees and goes over to the remaining freaks to get even for his hanging. Diablo whips the pistol from Jonah's hand and they argue over Jonah's right to kill them....

  The tattooed lady comes back and states that she didn't want them to hang Hex. She speaks of trying to help the children that Romanoff abused and she tells Hex that he is a freak like them. She tells Hex that she has the Sight. She can see that Hex will one day be put on display and people will pay money to see him. Hex asks that if she can truly see the future then why didn't she stop all of this from happening? And then he rides off.

The Troubled Souls of Men - Lazarus Lane is asleep in his bed and Jonah Hex stands over him, holding a pistol on him. Lane jerks awake and asks if Hex was going to shoot him in his sleep. Jonah confesses to thinking about it. Lane fixes them a drink and says that he is not adverse to Hex killing him, he drinks himself to sleep most nights and wakes up screaming.

The tale ends with Jonah riding off and the narrator verifying the Tattooed woman's prophecy.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - 6
Running Total - 573 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 71 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Hung by the neck
Timeline - It appears that this takes place across two nights and one day.
Rape Percentage - 45% (5 out of 11)

I'm conflicted about this issue. Personally I have always enjoyed Jonah being apart from the DCU and this was the first 'canonical' story of Jonah interacting with a character that had some sort of super power. Being Jonah, he took it all in stride, practically staring down the Devil himself (or at least a minion). While the story may have been lacking (or not up to my liking), Gray and Palmiotti once again write caption boxes and dialogue like it's nobody's business. I find myself reading their books out loud over and over again.

Beck's art, while at time almost photographic, does come across incredibly stilted and stiff most of the time. I can't say as I'm a fan.

Next Issue - Mormon Bashing is taken to the extreme.