Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jonah Hex: Face Full of Violence

Back in the Seventies, one of my favorite comic book characters was Jonah Hex. Hex was an anti-hero, a scar-faced ex-Confederate bounty hunter in the Old West who appeared in ALL-STAR WESTERN, WEIRD WESTERN TALES (the same book with a title change), and his own comic book, JONAH HEX. The stories by John Albano and Michael Fleischer were gritty and violent, influenced by spaghetti Westerns and possibly by the various Western paperback series such as EDGE that were written by a group of English authors who dubbed themselves the Piccadilly Cowboys, and the art, usually by Tony DeZuniga, was outstanding. DC has reprinted a lot of these early Jonah Hex stories in one of their black-and-white SHOWCASE volumes, but that will be the subject of another post later on.

Today I’m concerned with the revival of Jonah Hex in his own title a couple of years ago. DC is reprinting these stories in trade paperback collections, starting with JONAH HEX: FACE FULL OF VIOLENCE. It’s a great comeback for a great character. Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, these stories are stand-alone Western yarns, and they’re every bit as hard-edged as the originals. Hex takes on outlaws, Indians, the plague, crooked lawmen, and killer nuns. As befitting a character who once appeared in a comic book called WEIRD WESTERN TALES, most of these stories have some bizarre, even grotesque elements (though not supernatural). The artwork in five out of the six stories in this volume is by Luke Ross. It’s a slicker style than in Hex’s previous incarnations, but it works very well. The other story in this book was drawn by Hex’s original artist and co-creator, Tony DeZuniga, and his work is as powerful and effective as ever. If you’re an old fan of Jonah Hex who hasn’t tried this new series yet, or if you just like offbeat Westerns, I can’t recommend FACE FULL OF VIOLENCE strongly enough.

No comments: