Book Review: All-Star Western Vol. 1 (graphic novel)

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Jonah Hex, DC Comics’ most popular bounty hunter is back with a vengeance in All-Star Western #1, (2011) by Justin Gray, illustrated by Jimmy Palmiotti Moritat, with additional material by Phil Winsldae and Jordi Bernet.

In a genius bit of mash-up, Hex leaves his preferred open country for the sprawling 19th century Gotham City, where he takes on a criminal conspiracy, an underground child-stealing ring, and more. Despite his monstrously disfigured face, there’s nothing supernatural about Jonah Hex. The truly “weird western” part of the story kicks in when he and temporary partner Dr. Arkham (prior to building his infamous asylum) stumble upon an underground cavern that has an ancient race of subterranean humans and a gigantic bat. Right. Jonah Hex discovered the Bat Cave and subsequently meets the wealthy Wayne family who lives in a mansion directly above.

The story is action-packed, and though Hex pretends to be cold-hearted, he’s a relentless defender and avenger on behalf of the innocent. Arkham is a bit of a weenie, which annoys the loner Hex no end and to fun dramatic effect.

The volume also includes short adventures of El Diablo (fighting zombies) and also The Barbary Ghost (taking revenge on a Chinese criminal overlord).

The stories are excellent and fast-paced, and the illustrations are outstanding. Fans of the original Jonah Hex comics will enjoy these, though the blood factor has been ramped up considerably.

About Patrick Dornhttp://patrickdorn.wordpress.comPlaywright, Fiction Writer, Theatre Critic.

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