As “Jonah Hex” always does, this issue provides a story that left the beaten path of today’s comics somewhere up the hill and around the bend. Palmiotti and Gray have managed to keep this title going with mostly done-in-one stories and occasional multi-parters. This issue is a done-in-one, in more ways than one, if you know what I mean (sorry, channeling my inner Todd from the “Scrubs” cast). Hex rides into town, as he usually does, looks for a place to clean up and grab some shut eye, like he sometimes does, and proceeds to bring out the worst in others, like he always does.
The significant other in this case is a lady known as Rosa, like a stalkeriffic “lady” with all the worst traits of a high school crush spurned on the morning following prom night. Everyone in town knows to stay away from Rosa, and Hex soon learns why. Quite simply, she’s crazy, like people-in-the-town-are-truly-scared-of-her type crazy. That said, this issue makes her both ally and enemy of Hex, and the story itself benefits from it.
Aside from the ketchup packet under a car tire like explosion of blood (seriously, DC, what’s the fascination with unrealistic blood spray lately?) from the jaw of a jackass stupid enough to tangle with Hex, Nelson’s art is detailed and crisp. He hides Jonah’s face in shadow for most of the issue, adding mystery to the legend that happens to ride into these people’s lives. The shadow is not the way I’m accustomed to seeing Hex, as many artists prefer to celebrate the gruesomeness of Hex’s disfiguration, but here it comes across as presenting what must have been similar to Hex’s regular appearance to those around him. Nelson’s work fits, but in some spots the figurework is flat and stiff. With this issue of “Hex” behind him though, I look forward to seeing another from him. Hopefully the figures will be a little more gestural.
This issue, like many others, shows the influence Hex has on the lives of those he leaves behind, and in this case it is rather disturbing as the paths of those affected cross to unfortunate ends.
You can check out the preview of this issue right here on CBR and also read up on an interview with Palmiotti and Gray from Kevin Mahadeo. Gray and Palmiotti bring a great deal of passion to this title, which is admirable, especially considering the fact that the title is reliable on a monthly basis, with regards to both a solid story and some very good (and frequently great) art. I’m not a “Jonah Hex” junkie by any means, but I know for certain when I sit down with an issue of “Hex,” I’ll be happy I did shortly after.