Arkham Mansion: A Serious House In a Serious 19th Century
I really don't like this cover, it's generic, way too close up, and I'm just not a fan of Walter Simonson's artwork, especially in contrast to the other covers. It just sticks out like a sore thumb.
It feels like we missed an issue or something, because this one picks up presumedly weeks later, and Jonah Hex has already settled into a new status quo of depression and angst with a nurse taking care of him at Arkham's house. There's a definite hilarity to the interactions between the 'hard west man' Jonah Hex and the compassionate but strictly dutiful Constance. She sticks strictly to medical convention, but she's certainly not afraid to speak her mind to the boorish Hex. We really get a strong feel for Jonah when we finally see him in the one situation he can't fight his way out of. Constance is getting fed up with him, but you can see how much of his outbursts are covering up his overwhelming sorrow at being confined by his own body. We also see a surprisingly literate side to Jonah, reading entire books from Arkham's library in a single sitting to Constance's surprise. It lends to his detective skills later on as he quickly analyzes the expression of Mrs. Arkham's madness.
And of course in the halls of Arkham's mansion, we're finally treated to a vision of Arkham's bedridden mother. She's definitely not what I expected from the little offscreen appearances she's had leading up to this. Her room is incredibly unnerving, and she herself is a full vision of age-induced dementia. It's very interesting to see what changes Hex brings to her once he visits her for the first time, with the intent to put her out of her misery. She begins to walk and interact with people without yelling and screaming, a feat that will certainly shock Amadeus when he returns.
But interrupting this whirlwind of intriguing character interactions is the return of Mr. Hyde to wrap up this arc. This is another reason it feels like we're missing an issue. Not enough time passed between encounters, at least in terms of reading. Yes, weeks or months passed in comic time, but as readers this is the very next issue after Hyde broke Hex's leg and escaped to lick his wounds and work on his formula. This final battle is satisfying in and of itself, but in the context of the bigger arc, it comes very suddenly and too soon. It's also a fantastic expression of how the characters have grown during the ordeal of Hex's confinement, something we got to see very little of in its development. I'm not sure if Constance is going to stick around, because she appears to be a one time character, but it'd be a shame to put all her development to waste, plus she provides a fun and different foil to Hex. One way Gray and Palmiotti attempt to rectify the rushed story is the way Hyde uses his intellectual side to make keen observations about what must have occurred in the time he was away. As interesting as that was, especially giving such formality and analytical insight to a character who is essentially a brawler other half to a genius doctor, it doesn't fully justify the rushed buildup to the conclusion.
In Conclusion: 4/5
Despite my concerns about the lack of development between issues and the suddenness of the climax, the climax itself was very satisfying. This issue also had some of the most deep and intense character work yet, as we saw Jonah Hex outside his comfort zone of conflict for the first time, forced to introspect. The lost point is mainly to the dry 'history textbook' co-feature that is Tomahawk. It's FINALLY ending, I haven't even read it since the beginning, it just bores me so much every time I try.