I'm sad to admit that it's been a bit of a stint since I read ALL STAR WESTERN. It's always been a solid book, but I just fell off the horse/wagon/western reference. However, once I saw Booster Gold on the cover, I knew this was a book I wanted to check out. Booster Gold and Jonah Hex team up to retrieve a town's gold, in this satisfying team-up issue.
My first concern, when I picked this book up, was that the Booster Gold and Jonah Hex team up was going to come off either as cheesy or like a slapstick comedy. I kept getting flashes of old Ted Kord/Blue Beetle books, and while the over-the-top fun they had was appropriate for the tone of the book, it wouldn't be here. While Booster Gold comes off as the comedic relief in ALL STAR WESTERN, it's so subtle.
This book has a bit more of a serious tone of it, and the way writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti handle this team-up is brilliant. It's a very believable team-up as the hardened, brutal bounty hunter teams up with the kind and fair time traveler. This is an awesome duo that I've really enjoyed following the past couple of issues and that I'm excited to continue reading as the book moves on.
Artist Moritat is the only person I want to see draw Jonah Hex now. I loved his art in this issue, and he does a phenomenal job with this epic western landscapes. He's great with portraying a sense of depth within his panels, especially in this fantastic panel where Jonah and Booster are riding in the bottom of a canyon. Very pretty stuff. Also, I don't want to overlook colorist Mike Atiyeh's work on this issue either. ALL STAR WESTERN is a very "brown" book, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's the old west. It's about the landscapes. Atiyeh's colors mix well, and the only thing that stands out like a sore thumb is the only thing that should stick out: Booster Gold. I know I've been very Booster Gold chatty here but I loved Moritat's rendition of him. He put a duster on him and a cowboy hat, over his suit. It looks silly, but it works perfectly for the issue. He also does some fantastic work on Booster's face, which he captures Booster making some pretty ridiculous faces.
As far as the story goes, it's extremely satisfying. We get a good team-up as these two infiltrate a camp and get what they came for. It's pretty cut and dry, but we get left on a bit of a cliffhanger as Romeo wants to seek revenge. I really like this villain. He's ruthless and brutal, and the woman he's paired with, Damita, is a bit on the crazy side and has Romeo wrapped around her finger. Solid cast of characters here.
This really comes down to personal preference more than anything else, but I'm not a Stormwatch fan. Yes, this isn't the contemporary Stormwatch, but I'm not too keen on a team story taking place in the old west. I tend to enjoy the lone gunman stories much more. In addition, I'm also pretty burned out on vampire stories. It's a well put together, interesting story with some pretty decent art, but I just wasn't digging it.
ALL STAR WESTERN is a fantastic series that proves, month after month, that non-super hero books can work from a major publisher. The Booster Gold/Jonah Hex team up works extremely well, and stays in tone with the seriousness of the book. Booster Gold still feels like the Booster Gold we know, and the villains these guys are up against are fantastic. Gray and Palmiotti are killing it on this book. The art from Moritat is awesome and I feel like I can't read a Jonah Hex book without him anymore. The only downside with this book was that I didn't like the Stormwatch back-up.
Overall, I highly recommend this issue.