Snowy, Glass Houses
Jonah Hex #65
DC Comics, May 2011 Cover Date
Story by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artwork by Jordi Bernet
Colors by Rob Schwager
Lettering by Rob leigh
Wil Moss is "Editor"
Jonah Hex #65 Story Synopsis
Jonah Hex is tracking someone during a savage snow storm, and a "snow tornado" hurls him and his horse across the sky, leaving Hex unconscious and battered and the horse dead. Taken into a tent by a reclusive cattle driver who talks to himself and fosters theories about the workings of God, Hex is nursed back toward health. Snowed in, the two men soon have to confront a pack of wolves who are picking off the cattleman's stock, the encounter leaving Hex with a wolf bite on the right arm which makes him unconscious again.
Again nursed back to health, Hex leaves the snowed-in tent to find his unnamed benefactor's outhouse, only to cross paths with a group of cowboys who have ambushed a pioneer couple. With Jonah watching from a distant bluff, the cowboys murder the couple and loot their wagon. Hex returns to the cattleman's tent and warns him, and retrieves his sidearms. He then exits the tent then stops the cowboys a distance away and kills them, getting a bullet to his chest for his trouble. He takes the dead men's horses and goes back to the tent, but with blood loss he passes out before reaching it.
Hex awakens to find himself again in the care of the solitary cattleman who has been absently telling the story of his life. Hex, recovered, takes one of the horses he claimed from the dead cowboys and leaves, admonishing his host that it was a man and not God that let him live to see another day. Hex then exits the area, but before the story ends he pulls a wanted sheet from his horse bags, which shows his hosts face, and that he is wanted for arson and murder. Hex burns the wanted poster with his cigar and rides off.
Review of Jonah Hex #65
There's production sloppiness on page four where word balloons are misplaced, making it seem Jonah Hex owns the tent where he takes refuge and his host is hungry from coming out of unconsciousness. Coloring chores also take a hit when on page five where the unnamed cattleman walks out to gaze upon a green forest after getting clobbered in a snowstorm: how are these trees green?
Aside from these failures in the editorial department, the Gray and Palmiotti storyline is an interesting encounter between Hex, who we learn has been tracking the man who becomes his benefactor, only to learn in the course of the tale that the killing and arson he is wanted for was almost certainly justified, at least in the world of Jonah Hex where he is constantly dealing out six-gun justice to evil men.
Essentially the tale is told in reverse. What at first seems like a chance rescue in which the cattleman pulls Hex from the snow storm is in fact Hex's methodical tracking of another bounty. The unspooling tale from the lonely cattleman fills in all the pieces of how a seemingly immigrant (or maybe second-generation) shoe-maker became a far-west cattle driver, trying to earn enough money to get to California where he hopes to make amends for the unnamed things he has done.
"You see, it's a dream of mine... to meet a beautiful woman, have children, and settle down... start a good and decent life and make something of myself. Redeem myself... for the things I have done."
Aside from the etiquette of bringing in the man who has saved his life three times in these 22 pages, Hex has to balance his own code, which is what brought him to killing the marauding cowboys ("Turn around and draw yer guns. Makes no difference ta me") and the apparent tale of his target who apparently dealt with a similar problem, on a different scale, back in some unnamed Eastern city of the United States.
Jordi Bernet Artwork
Bernet's heavy-brush art style suits the DC Comics revamped Jonah Hex book almost perfectly, as the series itself is a cast-back genre piece from the 1970s, updated via a variety of vengeance pop-culture items like the George Miller Mad Max movies, Gladiator and other movie detritus. Hex's west is sometimes just barely short of the apocalyptic world Miller's Mad Max roams, and the soundness of killing murderers without any irony in the proceedings sets it apart from other broad streaks of anti-hero genre fiction. There's no second-guessing Hex's stance when it comes to drawing a weapon, and this issue's story is a modest examination of the thinking that goes into those decisions.
Click image to enlarge
Original review April 25, 2011 | Last update May 4, 2012