Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jonah Hex #70

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Ryan Sook, Mick Gray, Diego Olmos, and Jimmy Palmiotti

A seventy-issue run for a Western comic in today's market is pretty amazing.  I know that Jonah Hex had become a bit of a vanity project at DC - it never had amazing sales numbers, but it had a dedicated core audience, and was the type of book that brought prestige to the company, as a bit of an art-house hit that could be marketed to book stores and readers who weren't all that interested in super heroes.

With the exception of one overlong six-issue arc, the stories in this comic have always been one-offs, although they have built on their own continuity, and have featured returning characters.  Sadly,over the last couple of years, many of the stories have felt a little formulaic or predictable, and the writing was on the wall that this title would either have to end or get a shake up.

What has made this comic particularly strong over the course of its run has been the fantastic line up of artists that have graced its pages.  It began with Luke Ross, but just about every artist on the book since has been excellent.  I clearly remember work by Paul Gulacy, Tony DeZuniga, Darwyn Cooke, Jeff Lemire, Fiona Staples, J.H. Williams, Phil Noto, Bill Sienkiewicz, Billy Tucci, and Eduardo Risso.  Of course, if there's any one artist who should be associated with this title, it is the great Jordi Bernet, who really made this book his own.

This last issue is strange and unusual.  It shows us an elderly Hex being shot, and then we enter into a kind of confusing story wherein poor Jonah revisits his life, and seems to keep getting shot.  There's a reason for all of this, but talking about it would be spoiling things.  Needless to say, it's a fitting ending for the series, and it's nice to see a few familiar old faces again, like Talullah and Bat Lash.

Ryan Sook is a great artist for this title, and it's too bad he didn't finish the book, but the last pages by Diego Olmos work just as well.

I'm a little unsure about what the DC relaunch will bring to the Jonah Hex table.  Naming the title All-Star Western, and then setting it in Gotham doesn't make much sense to me, but I like that Moritat will be drawing it, and I do feel like this book was ready for some change.  I guess we'll have to wait and see how it works out.

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