Jonah Hex is brought into to Gotham to help bring a serial killer to justice. Pretty simple concept, but then again nothing's ever done the easy way when Hex is involved.
Man oh man, where to start here, because I could go on for days, folk. How about the cover? Holy crap, how about that cover?! Moritat draws the holy hell out of this comic from cover to cover. And his pencils and Bautista's colors go together like biscuits and gravy! (Hey, I'm from South Carolina)
I really can't compliment the art in this book enough. It's one of the best looking titles in the new 52 and considering that it's up against Batwoman that's no small feat. The opening shot of Gotham is absolutely majestic and perfectly captures the essence of the city. Scott Snyder is often noted for making Gotham a character in his stories but Gray and Palmiotti do a damned good job of it themselves from the jump. The amount of detail that Moritat packs into this page is mind blowing! And the way Bautista mutes and fades the colors of objects and characters in the background really gives the book a unique look.
I really loved that Amadeus Arkham is featured prominently in this story. His monologue perfectly sets a tone for this story and serves as a great way for readers to get to know Hex through Arkham's psychological analysis of Jonah. And as a psychology major I must say I got a kick out of how he was written this issue. Anybody familiar with Freud will surely get a kick out of this depiction of Arkham. And the way that that chief Cromwell reacts to Arkham's presence based upon his job as a "head shrinker" was a great bit of historical realism. Having he and Hex team up to hunt down the Gotham Butcher made for some great character interaction and humor.
This issue has a huge amount of action and Moritat perfectly depicts every panel of it and Gray and Palmiotti do a great job of balancing it out with Arkham's dialogue.
If it's one thing that this creative team knows how to do it's Jonah Hex! From the moment he steps on the scene we get Hex being Hex. Here's all you need to know about Hex as a new reader. Jonah's a tough frontier man, trouble tends to follow his arrival, he ain't lookin' for it but if you bring it his way you'll regret it, and he's one hell of shot with those six shooters. The scene with the would be muggers excellently establishes these facts and "Bandit's Roost" was a nice nod to "Crime Alley"
When I heard that this story would be taking place in Gotham I was a bit concerned, I was worried how Hex being in the big city would work. And honestly it works like a charm! Hex's no stranger to fish out of water tales, but nothing about this one feels redundant and much like in Gates of Gotham (which there are some nice references too) the late 1800's Gotham provides quite an interesting playground. Hex's brash, rough and tumble style provides a great contrast to the "civilized" more's of Gotham. And seeing him cut loose in classic Hex fashion during the bar fight was a real treat.
I love how Gotham never really changes throughout time. You can build new buildings, add new characters, but that dark heart remains at the core. Gray and Palmiotti get Gotham and do a fine job of depicting the classic elements of it that persist through the ages. The city is a hungry living, beast that devours the innocent and weak. The police are no help and the governments riddled with corruption. And the affluent are actively depraved or appallingly indifferent to it all.
One of the biggest strengths of Gray and Palmiotti's writing is their ability to write genuinely humorous character interaction and dialogue. Hex crashing Mayor Cobblepot's ritzy party was truly a collection of pages that made me smile and laugh out loud.
The end of this issue definitely ratchets up the tension and raises the stakes. I can't wait to see how this plays out as the story progresses.
Some may be put off by the old Jack the Ripper inspired story.
All Star Western is without a doubt 28 pages of excellence at it's highest echelon! I'd honestly forgot how thick a $4 book could and should be. And not a single page in this issue is fluff, this book's truly flawless from front to back. I must admit my love of Jonah Hex began as a kid when I saw him on Batman: TAS and I always enjoyed his appearances in other DCAU properties like JLU or Batman: Brave and the Bold. I'd never read a monthly Hex comic til today, but had seen him in other titles over the years. Well, I can definitely say that with this creative team on this book All Star Western will be a book I'll be reading for years to come!