Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Jonah Hex V2 #26 "Four Little Pigs: A Grindhouse Western"

Jonah Hex V2 #26 Feb '08
"Four Little Pigs: A Grindhouse Western"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Guiseppe Camuncoli - layouts, Stefano Landini- finishes, Camuncoli and Schwager - cover

Once Upon a Time, There Were Four Little Pigs

A woman stands outside her side barn, wearing a blood-covered butcher's apron, leaning against an axe, shading her eyes against the sun. Jonah rides up and asks if she has seen the man on the wanted poster Hex is holding up. He mentions that the man is riding with Lewis Himelhoch, Mike Hewison, and  Loy Turns. She says that she hasn't seen anyone in two months. Hex starts to leave and she offers him dinner, seeing as the ride into Holsten is a far piece and she hasn't had anyone to talk to that ain't crawling and squealing.

  Jonah inquires after her husband. She states her name is Holly and her husband ran off last spring. She asks if Jonah is a lawman and that is when Jonah notices three saddled horses in her corral.

  During dinner she quizzes Hex about his bounty hunting and speaks about the service Hex is doing, ridding the world of worthless men. Jonah is short on words and long on silence. Holly asks what Hex's god-given name is and he replies "Jonah is what my father named me."

  The liquor continues to flow long after dinner and Holly starts quoting Jonah 4:10-11. Jonah points out that she is drunk and if she leaves the Bible out of the discussion they'll get along fine. Jonah eventually passes out but Holly is still awake and...

 The Big Bad Wolf Dearly Loved to Eat Fat Little Piggies.

Later, under a full moon, Holly goes out to the barn to slop the 'pigs' and that is when we see four human tongues nailed to the inside wall of the barn and the 'pigs' she is slopping are four men, their tongues cut out, their arms cut off at the elbows and their legs cut off at the knees. They runt and squirm for the food as Holly grabs a whip and starts flailing the men. Suddenly Hex is in the doorway, telling Holly to drop the whip. She replies that it is not yet his turn when suddenly a shovel cracks the back of Jonah's skull.

 To Market, to Market, to Buy a Fat Pig. Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig.

Jonah awakens to find himself trussed up in the dark barn and in the darkness he hears the other men stirring. He calls out the names of the men he has been hunting and they grunt their acknowledgment. Hex comments that they look terrible. The men wiggle over and start chewing their way through Hex's bonds. 

  In the house, Holly is speaking to Hannah about what to do with Hex. They head towards the barn, axes in hand. They find Hex gone and they take out their anger by whipping and kicking the four men.

 Birds of a Feather Flock Together, and So Will Pigs and Swine.

 Back in the house Holly and Hannah debate if Hex is still around. They decide since his horse is gone, Hex has gone to Holsten in order to bring the law back. They decide to 'clean out' the barn so there is no proof and they argue about Hex. Holly thinks he's a dumb man that deserves the fate they mete out because he has probably wronged many women. Hannah says that Holly shouldn't flaunt herself but they can't afford to get sloppy. Holly quotes Proverbs 23:7 "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." and she knows he'll be back for vengeance. Hannah heads out to get some firewood.

  After a bit Hannah doesn't come back and Holly goes out to check on her. She finds blood by the woodshed and as she examines it, Hex knocks her out with a pistol.

What to do with Her? Says That Pig. Kiss Her to Death, Says This Pig.

Dawn, and Holly and Hannah find themselves trussed up in the barn. Jonah sits in a rocking chair, axe in hand and lighting a smoke. Jonah notes all the tongues nailed to the wall and he starts to wonder as to why...

  Hannah starts in with...

Jonah speculates that the four men in the barn aren't the first ones to meet their fate at the hands of Holly and Hannah just as the four wiggle their way into the barn. Jonah notes that the men prefer that Jonah not use the axe on the two women. Jonah sits down as the four men wiggle towards the women and proceed to savage them with their teeth, chewing the women to pieces to the point of decapitating them.

 The men start begging for Jonah to shoot them but he refuses as he still has a job to do.

Give to a Pig When it Grunts and a Child When it Cries, and You'll Have a Fine Pig and a Bad Child.

Much later we see Jonah riding into Holsten leading two horses with the four men strapped atop them. The sheriff comes out and wonders at what Hex has done. Jonah explains that it wasn't him but the women outside of town. Jonah would have dispatched the men, but the warrant specifies them alive, not dead. The sheriff draws down on Hex and tells him to leave town. Jonah states that he will comply as soon as he is paid. 

The sheriff replies that he would rather shoot Hex than pay him and Hex punches him straight in the nose. Jonah explains that he will be paid or there will be one less lawman in town. Jonah gets his money and bids farewell to the four men.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - None, but he did help facilitate the deaths of Holly and Hannah
Running Total - 664 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 172 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - Brained with a shovel.
Timeline - Given a day to ride to Holsten, I'll say two days..
Rape Percentage -  30% (8 out of 26)

Obviously influenced by Grindhouse, this is one of the more gruesome tales of Jonah Hex. It was a far far cry from the Hex penned by Michael Fleisher but oddly enough, it reminded me of Fleisher's work on The Spectre. The fate of Holly and Hannah was fitting and had a wonderful EC comics vibe to it. I loved the grittiness of the artwork and the colors, it really sold the book. I do believe that three of the butchered men were named after actual Jonah Hex fans, can't remember where I read that. (possibly on the Paperfilms forums)

My main gripe with the story had to do with a 'teaser' that Justin and Jimmy posted on their now-defunct Paperfilms Forum where they described the story as their 'sickest one yet' (if I remember correctly). Stating something is 'sick' strikes me as... I don't have a word for it. It reminds me of folks being proud in 'keeping Austin weird' or 'keeping Portland weird.' Weirdness (as well as sickest) isn't bestowed upon a person/place by the person/place itself, but by others. Self-proclaimed Weird isn't Weird at all, just sensationalistic advertising.

A secondary gripe is with Holly and Hannah, two devout Scripture quoting murderous women. That doesn't smack of lazy bigoted writing now, does it? But it does prod me once again to actually pen that Hex and Christianity piece that has been rolling around in the back of my head for a decade now.

Next Issue: Back East, an error in the timeline?, and Starman appears.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Jonah Hex V2 #25 "My Name is Nobody"

Jonah Hex V2 #25 Jan. '08
"My Name is Nobody"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Russ Heath - art, Garres - cover

Mexico, 1899

We are treated to excerpts from An Oral History on the Old West, co-written by Woodson Hex, private detective in the 1930's and 40's. During the recap of Jonah's life we see the aged bounty hunter setting up camp overlooking a desert valley. Off in the distance, dust clouds rise, driven skyward by several men on horses being chased by other mounted riders. Jonah figures it's bandits running from the local law so he takes cover so that he has a chance against the fifteen desperadoes. 

  As the bandits get closer, Jonah picks off one and the rest scatter. The bandits regroup, trying to decide how best to flank the unknown gunman up the rocks. Meanwhile, Jonah bides his time, hoping he can hold them off long enough for the rurales to show up. Jonah unloads his pack mule and lets it wander off into the mountains. He pulls out a photo of Mei Ling and a young boy, about the age of ten. 

  Jonah takes up a vantage point with his rifle. Soon enough, one fo the bandits tries to make a move and Jonah kills him. Drawing a bead with his rifle, he spots the backside of another bandit and Jonah manages to shoot the pistol in the man's holder. The bandit jumps from cover and.... thirteen left.

  The bandit leader shouts to Jonah to stop shooting his men. Jonah replies that it might be safer for them to turn themselves in. The Bandit asks Jonah's name to which Jonah replies with rifle fire. Five bandits suddenly rush Jonah and ..... nine left. That's when Jonah notices that they shot and killed his horse.

  The bandit leader tells Hex that they need his location to ambush the rurales. He asks Jonah's name again, announcing that HE is Jesus Escobar Ramirez. Jonah replies that he is Jonah Hex. The bandit's stare at each other and then decide Hex is lying. Everyone knows that Jonah Hex is dead. 

  They rush him once more, managing to hit him in the left shoulder but Jonah takes down three more of them....six left. Another quick attack and Jonah takes out two more, the rest coming at him with knives. Jonah smashes one in the head with a pistol and starts punching the crap out of him to boot. The others come up, about to shoot Jonah in the back of the head when a hail of bullets cut them down. Jonah kicks his combatant over the edge of a cliff.

  The rurales have arrived in time. A man leading them doesn't appear to be Mexican. The man says that Hex looks familiar, maybe they know each other? Jonah says that the man doesn't know him.

  Later that evening in a cantina the man offers to buy Hex a drink, asking his name. Jonah replies with  "Mister Albano".  Jonah says that he would like to drink alone. The man introduces himself as Jason Hex. He's a tracker, helping the locals. Jason says that the Mexicans ain't against folks of mixed blood as much as the folks up north. He is half Celestial on his mother's side and his father was a bounty hunter... and that's when Jonah attacks him. 

  They get into a knock-down drag out fight which ends with Hex on the floor and Jason holding a iron on him. Jason says he has no intention of killing Jonah, he only wants to talk. Jonah says they have nothing to talk about. Jason asks if Jonah wants to know about Mei Ling. Hex states he ain't the one that left and folks have a right to do as they like. Jason states that Mei Ling is dead and that not everyone dies from a bullet. Jason still wants to talk but Jonah has none of it.

  He says that what you see is what you get and that's the reason Mei Ling took Jason away. She didn't want Jason to know him and that's that. Jonah exits the cantina and meets a Mexican woman in the street, holding a baby. She tells Jonah, who is still drinking from a bottle, that the stuff will kill him. Jonah replies that he hopes it does.

  Jonah mounts up as the woman approaches Jason as he, too, exits the cantina. She asks who that ugly old man was. Jason takes the child from her arms and answers "That was nobody".

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - Eleven. The Banditos didn't fare well against Elder Hex.
Running Total - 664 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 172 V2)
Jonah's Injuries -Shot in the left shoulder.
Timeline - At most, one day and a night.

Rape Percentage -  32% (8 out of 25).

One the greater Hex tales because of so many things. Russ Heath is back and illustrating another tale of 'old' Hex, we meet Jason as an adult trying to reconcile a meeting with his absent father, Jason's quick appearance of Jason's wife and his son, a quick nod to Mr. Albano, the black borders, and a slight reference to Johnny Cash (Boy Named Sue lyric "and ya got the right" vs. Jonah's "Ya earned the right.").

We see so many people encounter Hex and die a quick death, friends that pass through and are forgotten. Any time we are treated to something that builds upon the Hex family tree or revisits a known character, I feel that we are getting a deeper glimpse into the agony, tragedy, and the tortured mind of our favorite bounty hunter. 

Next Issue: A heavy Tarantino influence and ya never wanna watch the sausage getting made.