I Don’t Like Westerns…
I’ve never been a fan of Westerns. John Wayne drives me up a wall, and I consider Clint Eastwood to be a fantastic actor, but his Western films bore the Hell out of me. The only Westerns I’ve truly ever enjoyed were the Coen Brother’s latest version of the John Wayne classic, True Grit, and the short-lived cowboy space-age hit TV series, Firefly. But other than that, if you try to get me excited about a Western, whether it be by wrote or on the screen, my “yippie-kai-yay’s” will be far from heard. But now that I’ve read All-Star Western #1, DC might have a hooked me in the “Western” department.
A part from Megan Fox burning holes in my retinas with her god-awful personality, the Jonah Hex film that came out in early 2010 was very entertaining to me; it was predictable, yet fun as Hell. (I wonder how much fun Hell actually is?) And the few appearances the character has made on various TV shows, like Batman the animated series, has always been entertaining. I also love Jimmy Palmiotti’s work, so Jonah Hex has always been one of those DC characters I’ve had my radar on, but my pocket book didn’t allow me to add another title to my collection. Now with the reboot, I felt I could start fresh with an investment in Jonah Hex.
#1 doesn’t give us a back story, it simply starts off with Jonah’s inner monolog; giving us his bitter reasons for why he hates the city and hopes Gotham will one day burn to the ground. The first page, drawn beautifully by Moritat, shows a Gotham City right on the cusp of its industrial peak. Yet even at this point in history, Gotham isn’t a stranger to the dark and evil side of everyday life. A phantom killer, who seems to be mirroring the actions of Jack-the-ripper, is going around town and killing prostitutes. With the help of Dr. Arkham, Jonah begins his paid search for this dark, unknown killer, but what he’ll discover is all too terrifying and shocking.
Don’t worry about anything you may have known in the past about Jonah Hex, this is definitely a story that starts off on a clean slate. Jonah is nothing more than a scared faced, former confederate soldier who makes his living off of hunting down baddies andb ringing them to justice. He still lives by his own moral code that seems to be dictated by neither God nor the Devil. As Arkham stated, his concept of right and wrong is shaped by an inner morality. Jonah takes time to show the citizens of Victorian Gotham the difference between right and wrong, (mostly by punching and breaking a few jaws) while maintaining that he prefers to be left alone, without friends. He cares for people, but prefers to stay distant from them. Interesting, yes?
Dr. Arkham’s assessment of Hex as they both prowl the streets in search of answers is a fun analytical bit of rhetoric for the script. Not only do we get a sense of how Dr. Arkham began his inevitable quest to design his soon-to-be loony bin, but we also get an interesting perception of a man who seems to have a death wish while enjoying the thrill of a good fight.
Moritat, as stated above, blows me right out of the water with his Victorian styled Gotham City and the faded look of each page. It’s obvious that this comic is meant to be a pure Western mystery tale with a goal of revealing something about Gotham’s past, undoubtedly explaining Gotham’s present. The cover is beautiful and disturbing at the same time. Moritat’s style reminds me a lot of Francis Manapul’s; it’s very “sketched” looking, but clean and precise, which represents my artistic style as well.
What I enjoyed most about this issue was how well Palmiotti and Gray pulled me into this mystery. Sure, Jonah Hex is great character and is interesting enough that Hex could simply walk around Gotham City on every panel of a 22 page comic, no story, no dialog, and still command a certain level of respect and fear. But Palmiotti is one of the best writers in comics right now and knows how to give his characters a story to remember. And the ending had my anticipation boiling so fast that, once I finished reading, I went online right away to find out when #2 was coming to comic stands. DC is certainly treating its titles very well and giving each character a first issue deserving of their personalities.
Again, I’m not a fan of Westerns, but I can see myself getting hooked into All-Star Western. I might have chosen a different name for this title, but I’m not going to complain. Give it a chance, whether you love or hate Westerns, this book might just get you excited about comics.
10 out of 10 Stars