All Star Western #0 Review

All Star Western #0

Jonah Hex tells the story of how he got his memorable mug in All Star Western #0.

All Star Western #0

Over some drinks, Jonah tells Arkham, Tallulah Black, and the recently arrived Reginald Forsythe the story of how he came to be.  He was born on a particularly bloody night when his father killed some men looking to lynch some Mormons.  Later, as his father, Woodson Hex, started to lose everything, he turned to gambling, drink, and beating his wife Ginny and young Jonah.  Ginny would eventually leave Jonah with Woodson to runaway from the bad situation with another man who didn’t want the boy to come with her.  Eventually, Jonah would be traded to the Apache for Woodson to have safe passage through their land.  There he would be mistreated by a jealous tribesman before being left for dead and joining the Confederate Army.  After being made an example of by Union soldiers, Jonah would be nursed back to health and return to the Apache where he would be forced to cheat in a battle against his rival to save his own life.  He then received the mark of the demon, a burn on his face to show his shame, and cast out of the only family he ever really had.  Later, after telling his story, a ship arrives in Gotham carrying none other than the Barbary Ghost!

On the surface, this is a good book.  Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti does well summarizing Jonah’s life.  The problem, though, is that this isn’t something they haven’t done before.  The story of Jonah’s life has been told time and time again.  This duo has even done this before the previous volume ended when Jonah tracked down his father to finally put him out of his memory.  There’s even a story in that previous volume that went into Jonah’s relationship with the Apache and his ultimate betrayal that earned him the scars he carries.

Now, I’m not ignorant to the fact that this series has enjoyed a greater audience than ever before (at least in the last 30 years).  So, with that, this issue is going to do those newer readers a solid by going through the backstory of Jonah’s life and experiences.  However, you have to think that more than half the current readership will know this story already.  So, this comes down to another problem with these zero issues.  There’s not a great deal of wiggle room allowed for Jonah’s story.  It’s not quite like Batman or Superman or even Wonder Woman where you can reveal some new ideas to old myths.  Jonah’s story is cut and dry.  He’s the product of a bad parentage of an abusive father and a coward mother.  He was sold into slavery to the Apache who he befriended and ultimately suffered a huge heartbreak by being scarred and cast out by them.  All of these things led to Jonah being the man he is today.  Fans of the character would know this story inside and out.  New fans of the character can pick up Gray and Palmiotti’s stories that detailed this fairly easily.  This is an accessible origin that didn’t need this treatment.

Now, let me put my soapbox away and really get to the quality of the issue.  As I said, the summary was done well.  It was paced incredibly fast but you can see the progression of one event to the next building these inner scars within Jonah to match those he wears on his face.  Really, you don’t need much more than that to understand Jonah’s life.  Beyond that, the last few pages do offer a some nice teasers for the next story to come in the series.  It’s great to see Barbary Ghost again on her personal vendetta.  Plus, to introduce the idea of someone stealing Dr. Jekyll’s formula to have it unleashed on the world adds a cool little monster story to the western-based series.

Overall, is this story bad?  No, far from it.  However, this is one of the many books that reveal the downside to having these zero issues.  By design, this issue is doing what was expected – give background on characters inhabiting the New 52.  However, this is a story that’s been recently covered in a few other stories in the previous volume that are accessible to new fans.  It doesn’t offer any new angle or revelations on Jonah Hex.  Those wouldn’t have been anything fans would have really wanted anyway.

So, what we’re left with is a book that’s stuck in no man’s land of doing what these books are supposed to do, but covering ground well covered before.


Pros Cons
Paced well. Nice teasers for the next arc. Great Moritat art. Reveals a big downside to the zero issues by forcing a rehash of an origin seen recently by the same writers with no real wiggle room to explore new ideas that may have come across more forced than anything.

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