How did Hex get his scar?
Jonah Hex’s early life is accounted for...and it’s plenty ugly!
November 1st. A child is born.
Woodson Hex grows impatient, but there is little he can do to hurry the process along. As the women who attend to his wife remind him, his son will be born when he’s good and ready.
Hex steps outside to smoke his pipe and wait. The boy is stubborn, and the labor could take all night.
Three riders soon approach. Their leader introduces himself as Ashby. “By order of Colonel William Jennings, Sheriff of Caldwell County, these men and I are after fugitive Mormons who might have taken shelter among sympathetic souls.”
Politely, Hex asks them to leave. Much less politely, Ashby tells him that they will be entering his house with or without his invitation, under the authority of Missouri Governor Boggs’ Mormon Extermination Order.
Hex has heard of Ashby and his men. Not long ago, they killed some boys and old men near Halin’s Mill. Rumor had it they even crushed a nine month old baby under their horses’ hooves.
They die that night by his hand.
As the last of them begs for mercy, one of the women comes out to give Hex the news: his son has been born. Hex names the boy Jonah, then ends the trespasser’s life.
Misery in Missouri
Years pass, and Woodson Hex turns to vice. Drinking and gambling have consumed six years of his life, while his family suffers his abuse.
Tonight, Hex flies into a rage, accusing his wife of sleeping with the traveling salesman that visits while he’s in town. His hands wrap around her throat, and though she claws at his face, she is little match for his drunken fury.
He is stopped by the sound of a pistol’s hammer, clicking into place. Young Jonah steps in, ready to shoot his father in the head if he doesn’t let his mother go.
For a moment, it seems that Woodson Hex has learned the error of his ways. Then his anger flares once more, and her turns on his son, dragging him outside and beating him senseless.
While the young boy may have lacked the will to act, though, his mother is determined. She will shoot him dead if he doesn’t leave. She tells him to sleep it off, to come back when he’s sober.
He threatens not to come back at all.
The next day, Virginia Hex comes to a decision. She can’t take her husband’s abuse anymore. She’s decided to leave him. The salesman, Mr. Dazzleby, has agreed to take her in.
But he won’t take her boy.
Jonah begs her not to go, but she feels she has no choice. She leaves with Dazzleby, abandoning her son to his father.
Jonah follows their trail, desperate to catch up with her. Hours later, his father finds him, alone and exhausted.
In the clutches of the Apache
The California Gold Rush calls Woodson Hex westward in search of his fortune. En route, he encounters a hostile tribe of Apachean natives. In exchange for safe passage through their land, Hex gives them the only thing of value he has left: his son, Jonah.
Jonah Hex is put to work cleaning the deer caught and killed by the tribe. He becomes the target of abuse by the boys of the tribe, especially one Noh-Tante.
Over time, Jonah Hex is accepted by the Apache, adopted as one of their own. As he comes of age, he and the other boys are sent on a raid of the nearby Kiowa people. It is their final test; when the mission is finished, they will return to their people as men.
Unfortunately, this is not to be Hex’s fate. During the raid, he is betrayed by Noh-Tante, left for dead among the bodies of their enemies.
The next morning, he is rescued by White scavengers...
Fort Donelson, Tennessee
America has been engulfed in civil war. Young Jonah Hex finds himself part of an assault on Fort Donnelson, fighting to take back the fort for the Confederacy.
Rebel forces are cut down by Union gatling guns. Hex fights valiantly, slashing at his enemies with a tomahawk, but even he cannot stand against such an assault. He is captured by Union Captain Fulsome, who decides to make an example of him.
The Cumberland River
Hex is stripped naked and bound to a raft, with only an American flag draped mockingly over his loins. Then, with his commander’s permission, Captain Fulsome takes the lash to Hex’s face, scarring him horribly.
Hex vows vengeance on the cruel Union officer. Fulsome only grins as he sets Hex adrift down the Cumberland River.
Once again, fate intervenes. A kindly family rescues him, and nurses him back to health.
The Mark of the Demon
Jonah Hex returns to the Apache with vengeance in mind. Though his “father” is pleased to see him, Hex wishes only to kill Noh-Tante. He draws his gun, but the chief insists that this dispute be settled honorably.
Both men are stripped to the waist and forced to battle using only their tomahawks. The outcome will be determined by the strongest warrior.
The two fight ferociously, and their battle takes them far from the eyes of the tribe. There, Noh-Tante cheats, striking Hex below the belt and sabotaging his weapon. Noh-Tante lunges, going in for the kill...
Hex pulls a knife from his boot, and plunges it into his enemy’s throat.
When the other member’s of the tribe arrive, they find him guilty of breaking the rules of battle. The law commands his death, but the chief owes Hex his life and will now repay that debt.
Still, he will not escape this day unpunished. Before the eyes of the tribe, Hex is bound to a tree and the chief brands his face with a white-hot tomahawk. “Wherever you go, people will know you are a man of two minds. A man who is both good and evil. You will bear the Mark of the Demon!”
A drunk Jonah Hex finishes telling his story to his compatriots in present day Gotham.
Reginald Frosythe offers Hex, Arkham, and Black three thousand dollars to locate a thief for his employer, Dr. Jekyll.
Elsewhere in Gotham, a miraculously healed Rogan McKee approaches his uncle with a true cure-all formula, one that is sure to make them a fortune.
And at the docks, the Barbary Ghost as come to Gotham in search of her mother...
- Governor Lilburn Boggs signed Missouri Executive Order 44 (the “Mormon Extermination Order”) on October 27, 1838. Jonah Hex is established in this issue as having been born on November 1; the timing of Boggs’ order helps establish the year of his birth, likely that same year.
- The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, but it is unlikely that Woodson Hex, living in Missouri, heard about it until 1849. When exactly he chose to go west is not established in this issue.
- The Southern Army lost Fort Donelson to the North in one of the first major Union victories of the American Civil War. Confederate forces attempted to retake the fort on August 25, 1863. It is likely that this is the battle we see depicted in this issue.
- The scenes of “present day” Gotham are set between issues 12 and 13 of All-Star Western.