Although DC Comics is best known for its superhero titles, it’s not just the spandex-clad that are counted amongst its heroic figures. Jonah Hex is a classic western anti-hero, a gunslinger who fights for justice as a bounty hunter, operating on the hazy line between law and crime. In fact, the character has been through numerous incarnations, including a period when he travelled in time to a post-apocalyptic future. But this particular book, which collects together issues one through six of the 2005 relaunch of his monthly comic, sees Hex in classic western mode.
Hex is a disfigured ex-Confederate soldier, his face scarred by an Apache chief with a scorching hot axe. This old ground isn’t covered in this book however, which rolls straight into his adventures with little concern for explaining the character. In fact, it’s barely important, as the anti-hero bounty hunter with an eye for justice and a shady past is about as generic a western stereotype as you could ask for.
Although this comes out of the DC Comics stable and not its more grown-up Vertigo imprint, the violent content is still quite strong – you wouldn’t want to be thrusting it under the nose of a six-year-old with a thing for dressing up as a cowboy. However, don’t get the idea that it’s Deadwood either – the language is clean and there’s only gentle references to sex and prostitution, despite the amount of blood that’s spilled.
Western fans who aren’t afraid of its more modernist clichés should have little problem with the stories, which are fairly solid tales of a bounty hunter who wanders into town, rubs corrupt officialdom up the wrong way, and ultimately delivers justice for the decent citizens.
The artwork is well turned out and looks the part, even if it isn’t quite as gritty and hard edged as we might like. But fans of the old West and all the trappings that go with it should find plenty to keep them entertained in Jonah Hex.