Friday, December 26, 2014

Beginning "the End" Week!

Woof, we're up to six years of this, and comics keep getting cancelled! Man, I'm never gonna finish at this rate; but we'll play some catch-up ball with our annual "The End" week, and check out some more last issues. We'll start with a two-fer: from 1985, Jonah Hex #92, "A Blaze of Glory!" Written by Michael Fleisher, art by Gray Morrow; and from 2014 All Star Western #34, "The Final Curtain" Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, pencils by Darwyn Cooke. (As is always the case for last issues, there may be spoilers; so no complaining!)

This one isn't as good as that cover. Fleisher's last issue of Jonah Hex leads into the first issue of Hex, but not really: only the last page, where Jonah disappears from his book's traditional western setting (around the end of the 1880's or so) into a post apocalyptic future. The rest of this issue is Hex saving a little girl from some bank robbers, then giving the runaway back to her parents without so much as a pat on the head; while in six pages of subplot (out of 24) Emmy finally catches up with Jonah in a bar, bank robbers on the verge of killing her...just in time for Jonah to disappear. Bad luck, Emmy.

Jonah also somehow cashes in on a bounty that just seems massive--upwards of five grand--especially considering he did most of the gang in with dynamite, in an explosion that looked like it wouldn't have left enough of their bodies to fill a mason jar...

Counting Hex and specials, Fleisher wrote Jonah's adventures for over a hundred issues: so did Jonah's most recent writers, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. They had a seventy-issue Jonah Hex book then 34 issues of All Star Western, among others. Gray and Palmiotti's last issue ties into Fleisher's Jonah Hex Spectacular, where Jonah is murdered in 1904 by George Barrow, and his body stuffed and mounted for a Wild West show's travelling exhibit. Or was he?

By this point in the series, Jonah had been back and forth to various points in the future more than once, and had recently had his trademark facial scars repaired with plastic surgery. Now pretty handsome, Jonah and his on-again, off-again love interest Tallulah Black are in Wyoming; on the trail of a gang whose leader has been impersonating Jonah! Jonah checks into a hotel under the name "George Barrow," after seeing a brand of flour sacks in a wheelbarrow; and after the inevitable shootout with the gang, "Barrow" has again killed "Hex." The gangleader's body is taken by the Wild West show and headed for some taxidermy, as Jonah and Tallulah sail off into the sunset, towards a happy ending.

Fleisher's original end for Jonah was strikingly powerful; but over the course of the years, I'd have to say he more than earned a better fate. That and having knowledge of his future, I like that Jonah was smart enough to take advantage of it.


SallyP said...

If there is one thing that I love almost as much as Green Lanterns, It is Westerns, and Jonah Hex Westerns at that. And as much as I found the original fate of Jonah to be powerful and depressing, I have to admit to being a sucker for a happy ending.

Palmiotti and Grey did a bang up job, they really did.

CalvinPitt said...

I didn't read the end of All-Star Western, and just going off what I'd heard online, I thought he had gone too far back in time, and really killed some earlier, scarred version of himself, who wound up as the stuffed display, while Pretty Jonah went on and lived a full life.

Don't ask how I thought that worked out temporally, it made sense somehow in my brain. I was mostly focusing on the fact I didn't expect two Jonah Hexes would get along very well.