Brilliant is nearly every way. This is one great book.
Coming off of an amazing run on "Jonah Hex", Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are back with "All-Star Western" #1, the only book of it's kind in DC's New 52 and hands down one of the most satisfying reading experiences of the entire relaunch. Everything that made Palmiotti and Gray's Hex run great can be found in the first issue. It features a wonderful period feel and some great character work. But in other ways this book is quite different. While Jonah is the same snarling, tough-as-nails guy as before, here we see his connection to the greater DC universe. Also unlike "Jonah Hex" this isn't a one-and-done story. It's a multi-issue storyline but after reading this first book I wouldn't want it any other way.
Jonah Hex is the star of All-Star Western's first arc. It's the 1800's and Hex has been hired to come to Gotham City and find a serial killer who is murdering prostitutes. Hex teams up with none other than Doctor Amadeus Arkham who is not only fascinated by Hex's personality but his special brand of justice. The two provide the best moments of the issue through some fantastic dialogue and Arkham's own personal musings about Hex and his psychological complexities. The convergence of Hex's open plain, wild west mentality with the claustrophobic industrial boom town of Gotham City is mesmerizing and goes far beyond a simple "fish out of water" story. The mystery is intriguing and the detective story feel is really satisfying. This story is one well crafted package anchored by flawless writing and perfect pacing.
Moritat's art is a wonderful compliment to the story and helps convey the look and feel of the period. It channels the rough and sometimes gritty tone of the story through a special attention to detail that we see from the character's clothing to the carefully constructed environments. For the most part the issue maintains a steady and consistent look to it except for a few pages where the colors seem to change even though the scene hasn't. But it's hard to gripe about the visuals which work so well in telling this fantastic story.
"All-Star Western" #1 has proven to be one of the best issues of DC's relaunch. It combines everything I want in a comic book and has me completely invested in it's mystery. The brilliant writing and story structure as well as the cool factor of Jonah Hex in old Gotham City has completely drawn me in. If you passed up on this title, go back and grab it...NOW.