“All Star Western” # 0 updates the origin of Jonah Hex for the latest incarnation of the DC Universe once and for all. The stunning part is that origin is remarkably similar to the bits and pieces you may have seen or read elsewhere. The critical components are all there: Jonah is born, his dad’s an ass, Jonah is left for the Apaches to do with as they please, gets himself some Confederate clothes and receives the mother of all facial disfigurements.
Although these are all familiar bits to seasoned “Jonah Hex” readers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray repackage the details and change the pace in such a manner as to deliver a story that feels new as a zero issue should. The writing duo presents an amazing amount of exposition in narrative form, seeding the details of Jonah Hex’s formative years along the story of his personal history. Palmiotti and Gray construct Jonah Hex in such a fashion as the reader has the option to find sympathy or not. Hex certainly experiences an amazing rash of unfortunate events, but one has to wonder if those events shaped his personality or were caused by it. Whichever the cause or effect, the end result is a character that is certainly one of the more interesting and storied legends of the DC Universe.
Time and location are marked by ornate postscripts throughout the story as devised by Travis Lanham. Those markers identify where the next scene occurs and mark the passage of time from one significant event in Hex’s life to the next. They also add mesquite flavor to the gritty, harsh reality that artist Moritat (with an assist from Pia Guerra) and colorist Mike Atiyeh depict in the pages of “All Star Western” #0. This isn’t a happy story by any account and the visuals certainly reflect that. Atiyeh’s wide, balanced color selections help drive the mood of the story and blend nicely with Moritat’s Joe Kubert-influenced scratchy drawings. This combination merges nicely to oblige my expectations of Western comics.
“All Star Western” #0 successfully delivers the story of Jonah Hex with all of the main components of the regular series in place. In that sense, this issue serves up a nice appetizer for readers to come back for more. I’ll admit to being a lapsed reader as I tried to trim away titles in order to maintain a healthier comics budget, but this issue has given me enough of a reason to come back next month and plunk down another four bucks for another Jonah Hex tale. If this issue is any indication, I won’t be disappointed.