Saturday, July 06, 2019

Jonah Hex V2 #27 "Star Man"

Jonah Hex V2 #27 Mar '08
"Star Man"
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray - story, Jordi Bernet - art and cover

A man walks towards us, light blasting all around him, streaming from him, blurring all details. Hex is tied to a tree and the man offers Hex some water from a canteen. He bends forward and explains why he didn't kill Hex when he had the opportunity even though he KNOWS what Hex did all those years ago....

New York Harbor

A young man named Victor and his father, who has a wooden leg, disembark from a ship into the teeming mass that is New York City. They locate lodging and inquire as to possible employment. The hotel clerk gives them directions and then adds "You'll find slim pickings since after the war ended this week,"....... We'll come back to that later.

The two go to the room and the father instructs Victor to stay put and hide the rest of the money and he'll be back soon. The father locates an employment line that is for hiring policemen. When he gets to the head of the line he tells the men at the head table that he was a peace officer in his old country. They insult him and say he will be needing both feet to work. The father explains that he also taught literature until he went into the military and that he also will not stand for being insulted. One of the men, a New York Sheriff, shoots the father's wooden leg in two. Laying on the floor, surrounded by lawmen with their pistols pulled, the father eyes a priest sitting at the head table and asks if he condones this treatment of an unarmed man.

The priest replies that they don't have time for this, kill the cripple and take him outside as a warning to others. As they ready to shoot him, they ask if he has any last words. The father explains that he has a boy. The Sheriff states that he now has an orphan.

We see Victor waiting the rest of the day, all night, and then at daybreak he inquires of the hotel clerk. The clerk states he has been at the desk all night and not seen him. He does tell Victor where he sent the father for work and Victor takes off through New York to find his dad.

Victor finds the corpse of his father hanging from a statue of a saint outside a church.people casually pass by as if it is an everyday sight. A drunk in the gutter spins the tale of what transpired and points Victor in the direction of the employment line. Victor spies a pistol on the hip of a man, pulls it, walks past the line and exacts his vengeance upon the priest, a sheriff, and another man at the head table. He is about to kill another sheriff when he is pistol whipped on the back of the head.

Cut to.... Jonah Hex is speaking to two men in an office and they are instructing him to sign the proper papers in order for the funds to be transferred to him. Hex signs and leaves the office and walks through the streets of New York. He stops to ask directions to the train and then heads out to follows the directions. Suddenly we see Victor steal Hex's sidearm and run into the employment office. 

Hex gets into the office and we realize that it was Hex that knocked Victor out. He tells the Sheriffs that the boy is no relation and he only wants his pistol back. The head man doesn't believe him and they have a stare down with Hex winning. Hex picks up his gun and the Sheriff says the boy is staying with them. Hex doesn't care and the Sheriff states they'll beat the boy within an inch of his life, 'have some fun with him', and then hang him. Hex walks out holstering his pistol.

  Walking down the street Jonah remembers his own childhood at the hands of his father Woodson. He stops, pulls his firearm and next we see him killing every last man standing in the employment office.

Jonah takes the limp form of Victor to a Catholic orphanage and leaves him in the care of the nuns.

Back to present day, the man of light stand over Hex and we realize he is Victor. Victor postulates he has been tracked by Hex for three days and Victor is now worth four hundred, maybe six hundred dollars? Jonah states the amount is now one thousand dollars and asks if Victor is gonna kill him or just blind him with that coat? We then see that the light coming from Victor are Sheriff badges from lawmen he has killed over the years. He has been gunning down crooked lawmen as he roots them out after learning of the  corruption back in New York.

  Victor tells Hex that Hex's horse is tied up a few hours north along with all of Hex's supplies. Victor is going to head South and finish what he has started. Hex will be able to get out of his bonds and the next time the two meet Victor will not just sneak up and knock him out, he WILL kill Hex. Victor explains that he does 'private' bounty hunting for folks seeking justice and are unable to obtain it through conventional means. He has eight hundred dollars he has saved. He gives the money to Hex, thus appeasing Jonah's sole motivation in this encounter.

  Jonah snarls that he isn't the only one hunting Victor, and Victor is two hundred short.Victor rides off, the money scattered around Hex.

  An unknown time later, Hex comes upon a campfire in the night. Victor is stripped, gagged and died to a tree. Three Indians sit nearby when a lawman, Sheriff Pete, comes riding up.  He ask why the Indians have ripped off his clothes seeing as he only told them to capture him and tie him up. They explain that Victor killed one of their men. Pete replies that they get to split the hundred dollars three ways instead of four, then.

Pete explains that a man Victor recently killed, Christopher Casey, was Pete's brother. Pete pulls a knife. Pete asks if Victor has anything to say and pulls away the gag. Victor shouts for Hex to save him and take him into custody. Hex steps from the shadows and guns down the three Indians as Pete hotfoots it out of there. Hex unties Victor who grabs a knife and runs off into the dark, we hear a scream and Victor returns covered in blood and tells Hex to take him in.

Next day Hex wonders why they have to go all the way to Yuma when they were closer to Sterling. Victor explains that he killed the Mayor's Brother-in-law in Sterling. In Yuma, Hex turns Victor over to Sheriff Dokes. Victor asks Dokes if he remembers a family named Michaels that lived on the land Dokes now owns. Dokes tells Victor to shut up or he won't get a fair trial. Victor taunts Dokes, asking if it would be like the fair trial Mrs. Michael's husband and children got when Dokes killed them all?

Victor snatched Dokes' gun and holds it on both Hex and Dokes. Dokes says he won't get away with it, but Victor states that he will, he was paid handsomely to kill Dokes. He instructs Hex to drop his gunbelt and lock himself in the cell.

Later we see Hex killing time in the cell, reading the paper and smoking. A woman walks in to the office and frees Hex. She says that she was sent by Victor to let Hex out and to give him an envelope. Hex opens the envelope and pulls out two hundred dollars. He asks the woman's name. She is Mary Michaels. Jonah smiles and....

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - Three men in New York and three Indians in Arizona.
Running Total - 670 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo, 178 V2)
Jonah's Injuries - None.
Timeline - This one has a wide time range, we don't know how long it took Jonah to hunt down Victor but it took about four days to ride to Yuma once Hex apprehended Victor. This is based on what information I could uncover regarding Sterling, Arizona (founded in 1865 in present-day Prescott) places it about 220 miles from Yuma. That makes it about a three-four day ride.
Rape Percentage -  33% (9 out of 27) I'm counting this one in the 'Rape Story' column because of comments made by the Sheriffs in New York.

Overall, this was a good story and Victor was a good character but there were flaws that takes this one down a few notches in my eyes.

First off, the timeline. The hotel clerk states "after the war ended this week" so that puts the tale in early April, 1965. But I did some digging and Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9th, 1865, BUT President Johnson didn't officially declare the war over until August 20th, 1866 (there was a LOT of other stuff going on.) We do know that Hex was scarred in 1866, but not exactly when. So, while I initially bristled at this timeline 'error', I guess the clerk was being factually accurate in his statement. Therefore, this story takes place in August 1866. (guess this doesn't count as a negative then)

Next up, Crazy Church People make their appearance. Yup, we have a Catholic priest that is just fine with killing a crippled man for no good reason (granted, we do get to see nuns, albeit without guns, practicing mercy and compassion). There are corrupt 'Church People' just like there are corrupt people in every facet of society (in fact, I once had a pastor that said "you haven't been screwed over until you've been screwed over by a Christian.") but the 'evil church person' is becoming a reoccurring theme in Hex V2, almost as much so as the 'rape story' trope. 

Which brings us to the comment made by the Sheriff about 'have some fun' with Victor and 'when he is spent', leads me to lean toward rape being discussed. Sigh, such lazy writing at times. By the way, for folks wondering why I DO keep a Rape Percentage Counter going, It's because Chris Sim's actually dropped this book from his reading list because of using that plot device as a crutch too many times.

The positives? Well, Bernet's artwork is a big plus on this one. At times all of his women look the same, but he usually is able to make the men in the book distinctive enough that he reminds me of Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, although a very scratchy version of Mr. Lopez.

I also enjoyed Jonah's motivation for saving Victor, remembering what a hell-hole his own upbringing was AND, despite Woodson quoting the Scripture at time while beating Jonah, Hex still took Victor to a religious organization for safe-keeping.

Next Issue: I may need to start more Percentage counters as we encounter more Crazy Church People and have another tongue cut out.

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