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Review: Jonah Hex #56

Two Western tales. One good, one not-so-good.

No Caption Provided
There are two stories in this issue. In one, Jonah's hired to help an old woman handle some pusher buyers with an eye on her land. In the other, he remembers the tests of strength and bravery he endured while he was enslaved as boy.

The Good

The first story was great. You forget that you're reading about a character in the DCU and just enjoy it as a damn good Western. You get concise storytelling like you'd find a classic anthology, with a beginning, middle, end and a twist. In just a few panels, Gray and Palmiotti endear you to this long-winded old lady (which they even joke about) and paint the bad guys as reasonable (though still underhanded) men rather than cartoonish monsters. Winslade's art was absolutely gorgeous. You just want to drink in the detail on every panel. I should comment that this is one of the very rare occasions I've seen uninked pages work with color because his lines are just so tight. And I should also comment that Schwager pulled off some amazing production work here, filling the panels with moody shadows and dusty tones.

The Bad

The second story isn't as good as the first one. The middle of it, with a recap of the school of hard knocks young Jonah had to go through,was actually pretty engaging. The narration's written in such a way that I could really hear it being read aloud by some big-voiced campfire storyteller. However, the bookends seemed they were put in quick just to "sex it up" with a gunfight. It literally just ends with Hex gunning some men down with little provocation. And the art looked awkward in a lot of parts. Specifically, there were panels where Jonah was firing a pistol or punching a jaw (with a star-burst to mark the impact, even) which looked rather quiet and limp when they should've been loud and dynamic.

The Verdict - 4/5

This is another case of the back-up feature not being as good as the first story, but I'll still recommend it based on the strengths of that first one. If you're looking for a book that'll give you a break from superheroes while still keeping the high production quality of a big two book, then I recommend this. If you're intrigued by the upcoming Jonah Hex movie and want an easy entry point to the character, then I recommend this. It's even got a free movie poster and unusual bonus feature where this book's creative team interviews the movie's director.