etragedy's Weird Western Tales #16 - Vengeance Of The Ghost-Victims review

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Two Good Solid Westerns

Weird Western Tales #16 features a great cover by Nick Cardy

Weird Western Tales was one of DC's more memorable western series. Launched in the wake of the so-called 'spaghetti western' revival, it presents western tales that were altogether darker in tone than previous 'cowboy hero' books.

Issue 16 features a Jonah Hex story and an El Diablo story. The awesome ghost cowboy in a saloon cover art references the story 'Vengeance of the Ghost Victims', the El Diablo tale. Jackson Slate, a mean gunfighter who picks fights and kills people shows up in town. He runs off an 'injun', kicks over Lazarus' wheelchair and then challenges a man who admonishes him to a duel. Slate is of course victorious, and a young greenhorn intends to take him on - even though it's suicidal. That's when El Diablo shows up.

El Diablo crosses horror and western

The second story is the Jonah Hex story. Despite not getting the cover, it's the real feature, running more than twice as many pages. 'Grasshopper Courage' starts with Jonah Hex gunning down two fugitives in a town before being confronted by the young, unskilled sheriff. Hex claims innocence, showing the 'wanted' poster for the victims, but the sheriff tells him not to leave town until he checks him out.

Hex is visited that night by Amy, a wealthy young woman who's in love with the sheriff and pleads for Hex to accompany him when he goes after the Scortch Donnigan Gang to keep him safe. Hex refuses - until Amy offers him $500. Then he agrees. But there's more to the Scortch Donnigan Gang than meets the eye, and Hex lands in a heap of trouble.

This second story is pretty much a straightforward western, albeit a dark one. But even thought it contains none of the supernatural elements of the El Diablo story, it still crosses genres a bit, venturing into mystery territory.

Jonah Hex crosses mystery and western

What makes the pairing of these two stories work so well - especially in the order they've been placed in in this issue (accolades due to whoever was the uncredited editor of this comic), is that they both feature a greenhorn gunfighter, and the well-meaning kid from 'Vengeance of the Ghost Victims' primes the reader, almost acting as the setup for the naive sheriff of 'Grasshopper Courage'.

The art is also pretty strong here - I've included a panel featuring the 'hero' of each story as an example. Even those who grew up with comics of the 1990s or later, and are used to a more contemporary art style, are likely to agree, artist Nick Cardy's style suits the material.

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