Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of All-Star Western 0, 17 & 18

All-Star Western, issues 0, 17, & 18. Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by Moritat. DC Comics, cover-dated Sept 2012, April 2013 & May 2013.

The “origin story” of the Zero issue gives us a more fully-formed version of Jonah Hex’s childhood than has been seen in other versions of the character. The answer to the question of how he got his scars is both touching and revealing. The problem with DC’s “zero month” idea was that stories were interrupted to varying degrees to present the origin stories. All-Star Western did give us a story that interrupted the ongoing narrative, but it was told within the context of the story, and for the most part, that strategy worked well.

Issues 17 & 18 tell a nice short arc in which a plague hits Gotham. In an echo of the epic "No Man's Land" storyline, Gotham walled off the poor neighborhoods, and turned its back on the victims. Catherine Wayne, wife of businessman and casino owner Alan Wayne, was kindnapped as she secretly delivered supplies and food to the victims. Hired by Wayne to recover his wife, Jonah Hex (and his sidekick Amadeus Arkham) ventured into the plague-ridden area to retrieve the woman. 

They come face-to-face with the extremely long-lived Vandal Savage. But Jonah is able to (seemingly, for a page or two) kill Savage, and his body is buried in Slaughter Swamp. There is a nice sense of cross-time continuity among the people and locations in these issues. By the end of the sotry, our heroes are heading out West. Well, at leat Jonah is, having tossed Arkham off the train. We'll wee if and when the pair is reunited in the future.

Issues 17 & 18 also contain backups of Steampunk Stormwatch, although this story is not wrapped up by the end of 18. All we get in these two stories is the beginnings of the 19th Century version of the team, featuring Jenny Freedom and Doctor Thirteen. Interesting stories in and of themselves, but there is no sense yet of where the bigger story is going.

Source: My daughter and I are purchasing these regularly from various local comic shops.

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