Once Upon a Time in the West


Jonah Hex #51

The West’s meanest, ugliest bounty hunter has been hired by a preacher to track down the men who killed the founder of a small town. Naturally, Hex starts out getting on everyone’s nerves, accusing the deceased’s widow of having something to do with the murder and later needling the preacher about why a preacher would hire a murderous bounty hunter. Meanwhile, the killers return to town and kidnap the widow, believing she can help them use the founder’s divining stick, rumored to allow them to find gold instead of water. Can Hex get to the bottom of the mystery, and will anyone be left alive by the time he gets through?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice, razor-edged mystery with a couple of fun twists, plus art by the legendary Dick Giordano. All that plus all the grim fatalism and brutality you’d expect from a Jonah Hex comic.


Weird Western Tales #71

Hey, waitaminute, didn’t DC quit publishing this series clear back in 1980? What’s it doing back again? What’s it doing with the “Blackest Night” trade dress? Holy banjos, you mean the Black Lantern rings are now bringing whole comic series back from the dead?!

Yeah, it’s a gimmick, but it looks like a fun gimmick. DC’s bringing back a bunch of old cancelled comics for “Blackest Night” one-shot issues, but with the original numbering on the cover.

So we got a funky combo of high-tech super-science and retro Western here. Crooked businessman Simon Stagg, his pet caveman Java, and the Ray have captured a Black Lantern ring and brought it to a lab for study — a lab run by Joshua Turnbull, a descendant of Quentin Turnbull, one of Jonah Hex’s nemeses. Turnbull prefers to run around the lab duded out in Western gear, he’s situated his lab underneath an old Western ghost town, and he’s obsessed with rehabilitating the reputation of his disgraced ancestor. Not the most stable guy around, I reckon. The scientists have barely had time to start studying the ring when it summons a bunch of new Black Lantern zombies from the nearby Boot Hill cemetery — including a bunch of DC’s long dead Western heroes, including Scalphunter, the Trigger Twins, Firehair, Super-Chief, Bat Lash, and Jonah Hex himself.

Verdict: I’ll give it a narrow thumbs up. There’s not a lot of logic in this one, Simon Stagg disappears from the scene unusually quickly, we never find out if the Ray survived the battle, and the characterizations and dialogue are purely one-dimensional. And it’s written by Dan DiDio, which is a huge strike against anything. But on the other hand, you got a gorgeous cover by Bill Sienkiewicz, you got Bat Lash looking like a dandy even in death, you got skeletal Jonah Hex looking fantastically badass. And finally, I just can’t bring myself to thumbs-down a bunch of zombie cowboys, so that’s that.

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