What the Hex?
[above] Is DC Comics paying royalties to Clint Eastwood for starring him in the resurrected Jonah Hex?
This issue number one is written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti; Art by Luke Ross; Cover by Frank Quitely.
With the Azzarello Loveless and now a reborn Jonah Hex on the stands, DC Comics has thrown a bit of weight behind getting the Western Comic Book back in front of readers. How will this will play out over time is of course something I cannot know, but for the most part it looks like a real effort at gaining a readership. The Luke Ross art is something that would not have looked out of place in a late 1970s Warren magazine (which were comics supposedly produced for a more discriminating adult audience), and the storyline here has enough grit to distinguish it from the more the slightly more gentle Jonah Hex tales from the 70s DC Comic book.
"Cemetery without Crosses" is a tale of child slavery and abuse, with the added ugliness of dog fighting. Jonah more or less avenges the situation, which is the function he served in the earlier run of the title decades ago, a quasi-antihero and avenging angel with a 6-gun. The character is damaged over one side of his face, reminiscent of Erik from Phantom of the Opera, Quasimodo from Hunchback of Notre Dame, and more obviously Two-Face from Batman.
The story poses Hex as having an existential quandary about his place in the world, his relationship to a God with whom Hex has a quarrel (generally over the human condition) and the general loneliness of being ugly and feared. This is a sharpened-up rendition of the original Jonah Hex run which more or less soft-balled the same situation, layered heavily with standard Western plotlines.
(To see what I mean, check out the big DC Showcase edition of Jonah Hex which reprints 500 pages of the old run, most of which has Tony de Zuniga artwork, all in edgy looking black and white, showing off Zuniga's ability to splatter ink and find deep ink-laden shadows in every panel - - beautiful stuff.)
"Cemetery Without Crosses" ends with Jonah more uncertain than before about himself, uncertain about the right or wrong of gunning down people who more or less need gunning down badly. This "quest" is thus positioned for the series run.