Jonah Hex is up to his weird eye ball in Followers of Cain and El Diablo is up to his arm pits in old west zombies! It’s time to check in again with Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s All Star Western!
All Star Western #3
Hex and Arkham have found the chief of police, but the Followers of Cain plan to skin the chief alive. Arkham helps Hex out of a tight spot involving a knife to the throat and the chief makes the arrests to put the Gotham Butcher behind bars. As Arkham, Hex, Detective Kane, and Chief Cromwell celebrate over a cup of coffee the next morning and discuss the grand future plans for Gotham (including the building of a particularly well known prison and insane asylum), the followers get their revenge by attacking the foursome and killing Kane and Cromwell. To Arkham’s dismay, Hex moves on to find a bounty, the Trapp Family. No matter how much Hex wants out of Gotham, it doesn’t quite look like he’ll be leaving anytime soon.
In the El Diablo backup story, the dark figure cuts through most of the zombies that are infesting a small town. He also discovers the culprit behind the attack, Black River, and he’s none too happy with the western expansion of the white man.
Gray and Palmiotti serves up another exciting issue. Both their stories seem to really nicely set up two characters for some great arcs in the future. First, let’s talk about Hex. What I’ve really enjoyed about this story is how well it plays into what we know of Gotham in the present. The Cain (as in Cain and Abel, not Herman Cain) followers are planting the seeds for Gotham to become a cesspool of crime and despair. If not for Batman and his cohorts, that’s exactly what the city becomes. I love how DC is using this series with an unexpected character to mine the early days of all we’ve come to know about Gotham. We see notable names floating about. We are seeing the beginning of Blackgate Prison and Arkham Asylum. We know Detective Kane is an ancestor of current Batwoman Kate Kane. Overall, if you enjoy Batman and really get a feel for Gotham as an important “character” in the DC Universe, you’d likely enjoy this title to see it all start to come together as a city and the roots of its criminal background.
Of course, there’s also Jonah Hex. With how well Gray and Palmiotti know the character, it’s neat to see him outside his comfort zone. He’s a stranger in a strange land. While he may feel more at home in barren prairies with nothing around for miles, Hex is a lot of fun to watch as the fish out of water in the more modern, urban setting of Gotham. He can only apply so much of what he knows and there’s so much that expects to be the same in Gotham as it is out west, only to be very frustrated when it isn’t. It’s a great idea for the character and takes a nice look at savagery vs. civilization to see who is better suited for a good old fashion gunfight. It’s seems like a perfect balance to give the character a much more rooted place in the DCU while ultimately staying true to himself. This might have served DC better as an overall idea than the post-Crisis Hex series that flung Jonah into the future. Putting him in a strange new setting doesn’t mean you have to completely take him out of his time and place in the world.
The El Diablo story ultimately sets up what will likely be an ongoing idea of Lazarus chasing after and/or coming into direct conflict with Black River. This story isn’t exactly one that will blow anyone out of the water, or will be worthy to knock Jonah Hex out of the spotlight, but it’s a fun story. It mixes the western setting with a more mystical element, and it makes for a really nice recipe. While zombies are seen an awful lot in pop culture, the idea never fails to pique interest when thrown into another setting or situation. This one comes off fairly well while not trying to show it will be recurring theme or something we can always expect from an El Diablo story.
Both stories features some really nice art. Moritat’s art for the Jonah Hex story is simply gorgeous. When looking at it, you are immediately transported back to the 1880s. There’s a dirt and grime to the art that beautifully fits a Hex story. In the backup, you have Jonah Hex alum Jordi Bernet. His art naturally fits the Gray/Palmiotti story and makes for a great compliment to Moritat.
Three issues in, All Star Western still sits right near the top for all the DC New 52 for me. It’s like DC just wanted to reward me by giving some of my favorite characters in their whole line a chance to shine. Not only that, they asked the only writers I would want on the title to continue to produce these awesome stories.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|The plot thickens nicely in the Hex book and we’re given a very satisfying conclusion to the El Diablo backup. On top of this, the art for both stories is pitch perfect for the stories.||Not much of anything that leaps out at me. I’m definitely looking forward to where the story is taking Jonah and who we’ll see in next month’s backup.|
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