I’m not sure if anyone other than Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti could have pulled off Jonah Hex in the New 52. The title of this issue is All-Star Western, but you can’t kick off a DC western without Jonah Hex, right? I just find it funny that this story doesn’t even take place in the west.
Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Colors: Gabriel Bautista
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Gray and Palmiotti have always given us Clint Eastwood worthy western epics, but this story really feels more like something from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Hex arrives in late 19th century Gotham City where he has been hired as a consultant on a very Jack the Ripper-like murder investigation, along with Gotham’s favorite psychologist, Amadeus Arkham. As you may have already expected, this is more of a murder mystery than a rootin’ tootin’ gun slingin’ cowboy show, but it works because the writers still manage to give it that lawless old world feel.
I honestly wasn’t expecting to love All-Star Western as much as I did. I mean, if ever a comic book was just stacked with everything from action, to mystery, to intrigue, this is it. Hex is exactly the kind of anti-hero you want in a western story without feeling cliché, and his unique dialog flows off each speech bubble effortlessly, even given how hackneyed his old west accent rolls off his tongue.
Even more interesting than the English/American story dichotomy is how the artist, Moritat, captures both the dusty western saloon imagery along with the drizzly streets of London/Gotham. Moritat pays attention to detail and has you right in the middle of that Yosemite Sam-style bar fight, as well as at the gory crime scene next to Holmes and Watson, but it’s all authenticated by Gabriel Bautista’s heavily muted color palatte.
The writers have delivered a great first chapter to a compelling mystery story featuring some fan favorite characters, and I dare say it couldn’t have been pulled off as beautifully without their artists, so I’m very much looking forward to the next issue. I just hope when Jonah Hex’s story is up in this title, the next team can handle it as gracefully as this one.