sampsman's All-Star Western #16 - It's A Madhouse; Tomahawk, Part 4: Legacy review

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Good, but not Great, Ending to Jeckyl/Hyde Story

At the start of issue 16, we find that nearly a month has passed since the events that transpired in the last issue. Arkham is still committed, and Hex has been staying at Arkham's mansion, still recovering from the injuries (including a broken leg) he sustained in his fight with Mr. Hyde. In addition, we find that he has been drinking heavily and has slipped into a severe bout of depression as he remains confined to a wheelchair while his leg heals. A nurse (Constance) has been assigned to care for him, although he doesn't really want any help from her whatsoever, except for providing him with more whiskey.

In issue 16 we also finally see Arkham's mentally ill mother for the first time. She lives upstairs in the mansion with Arkham. In past issues we've seen that she is highly dependent on him, calling out for him at all times during the day and night. However, until issue 16, the reader has yet to see what she looks like. In the scene where she finally does appear, it is only after she continues calling for her son (unaware he is not in the home). Hex, having not had a drink for the entire day, finally becomes aware of the insufferable cries and heads upstairs to confront the woman.

The first half of the issue deals with Hex's relationship with Constance and Arkham's mother. It is only into the second half of the story where Hyde makes an appearance and the subsequent action that transpires is worth the wait.

The backup feature of the issue was the conclusion of the Tomahawk story, which has also been underway since issue 13.

The Good

This book had everything I've come to expect in an issue of All-Star Western - it had humor, interesting dialogue, grit, and, of course, action. It was nice to see the main feature focus entirely on Hex (with Arkham still being committed in the Asylum, he is only mentioned in this issue but does not make an appearance - a first since the series got underway).

I also liked how Palmiotti and Gray focused on Hex's intelligence. We know Hex has extraordinary fighting ability and physical strength and the authors could easily stay focused on these attributes. However, they rarely let an opportunity pass to remind us of Hex's sharp intellect. In this issue, there is a seen where we learn Hex read a (well-known Victorian era) novel in one sitting and his nurse (Constance) is surprised upon learning this (she also doesn't miss out on an opportunity to have some fun at Hex's expense after finding out what the book's relation is to the delicate mental state of Arkham's mother).

The relationship between Hex and Constance is also developed well throughout the issue. Constance shows she is not the least bit afraid of Hex and his rough exterior, and even puts him in his place when necessary. If Hex wasn't such a loner, I would almost think that something more serious between the two would develop in later issues.

I also enjoyed the battle between Hex and Mr. Hyde. With Hex still nursing his injuries from the last encounter, it was quickly obvious he was no match for Hyde and I was wondering how he'd escape what appeared to be certain death at the hands of Hyde.

As for the Artwork, I think this was Moritat's best issue by far. He did a great job capturing the various mental and emotional states of the characters. Several of the panel layouts were also superb, especially during the climax of the Hex-Hyde battle.

There was also a teaser in this issue for the next upcoming backup feature story, which will involve Stormwatch (circa 1880s). I am anxious to read this one, especially since I wasn't impressed with the Tomahawk backup feature in this issue and recent past issues.

The Bad

I'll just say the ending of this storyline wasn't quite how I had thought it end (I had honestly thought this arc would go on for another issue or two). Also, if an entire month has transpired since the last encounter, it would have been nice to know what Hyde has been up to in Gotham since that time. Perhaps we'll know more in issue 17, but based on the conclusion of this issue, it seemed like the authors are content to wrap up the Hyde storyline - loose ends be damned.

I didn't like the backup "Tomahawk" feature very much and the only good thing about it is that it concludes in this issue. A better backup could have been a short story featuring Arkham's time in the asylum as he recovers from the effects of the elixir he was forced to drink.

The Verdict

In my opinion the Jeckyl-Hyde storyline is the best yet from the new All-Star Western series. Comic fans need to give this book a shot if they haven't already. It is a great change of pace from so many of the other books in the New 52. A very enjoyable read indeed.

3.5/5 Stars.

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