Hex #18 (February, 1987)
Writer/Editor – Michael Fleisher
Penciller – Keith Giffen
Inker: Carlos Garzon
Colorist: Bob Lerose
Letterer: Milt Snapinn
Cover Prce: $0.75
Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths many of DC Comics’ franchises were reimagined for a new generation of readers. Old-Western Jonah Hex‘s transformation into the post-apocalyptic Mad Max inspired Hex was among the more striking changes following the Crisis.
I have very little (okay, okay… none) history with Jonah Hex , be he in the old West or in 2050 post nuclear war. This series was one that I always kinda kept in my peripheral vision, as it was just such a strange take on an established character. I wondered how long-time fans of Jonah and DC’s western offerings felt seeing what had become of one of their favorites. This is such a strange experiment for one of the major comics companies. I am reminded of Marvel’s X-Force being morphed into the X-Statix, or the Thunderbolts turning into a Fight Club comic. The shift was so jarring, however, whether you liked it or hated it… you were still somewhat interested.
I miss companies taking risks. Actual risks, not just throwing a new #1 on an issue, or rebooting (or constantly threatening to) every time they have a bad month. Jonah first appeared in the early 1970’s, so by this point he had well over a decade of history. Definitely a daring and interesting way to revitalize a (reportedly flagging) property.
It is Thanksgiving, 2050. Hex and Stiletta are ambushed. The art throughout this issue makes it somewhat difficult to follow the action. Hex talks Stiletta into leaving him behind, under threat of him having to “whup [her] raw”. Stiletta obliges and says she will leave to find help. Injured, Hex flees, leaving some bloody footprints in his wake. His pursuers are able to follow him to a cabin, which Hex had already rigged to be set ablaze.
Here is another instance of the art being difficult to follow, It appears as though Hex passes out from his injuries, and has a flashback to a boxing match his father forced him to take part in. The next several pages feature more tracking and confrontations with his pursuers interspersed with more flashback scenes of Hex and his father. It is all terribly confusing, I imagine a less abstract artist would have made these flow much better.
It appears all is lost as Hex collapses in a shed. Just as he is about to be taken out, Stiletta returns with reinforcements, and Hex is saved.
We check in on Jonah later on. He is wearing a restorative body stocking and is seated in a sorta-kinda 1990’s Professor X style hover-chair. His rescuers have brought him to an abandoned warehouse they had fixed up. The warehouse is full of odd antiquities and curiosities of times past.
While Hex peruses the warehouse he stumbles across what he believes to be a life-sized statue of himself. The doll has white hair and is wearing old western gear. Upon getting a closer look, Hex discovers that this is no statue, and is in fact his very body stuffed and mounted. This gives Jonah hope that one day he will be going home again… and we are [done.]
What a strange ending for this series. Ultimately, Jonah does return of the old west, however, to my knowledge we never see just how he did so. This was an interesting issue, and although I’ve spoiled the ending for myself, I look forward to checking out earlier issues. Fleisher’s writing style feels quite out of place in a late-80’s book, however, it is still very good.
What really hurts this issue is the art. I usually really enjoy Keith Giffen’s work, however, this appears to have been crafted during a very experimental and abstract phase for him. I have no problem with non-traditional art in comics… I enjoy Ted McKeever’s work greatly, Bill Sienkiewicz’ art during the Demon Bear Saga in New Mutants was fantastic, and one of my favorite comics artists of all time is Chris Bachalo. I’m fine with experimental art styles… when they work. During this issue, I kept feeling as though I was misunderstanding what was going on (and, hell… I might have been). The action scenes were fairly brutal to behold. They actually ran several letters in the “Hex Communications” letters column addressing the dramatic shift in art.
If you can snag this on the cheap, I’d recommend it. It is such an oddity, and definitely worth a flip through, even solely for curiosity.
|Batman Year One House Ad
I enjoyed this story so much more than Dark Knight Returns
|Another Year, Another batch of awards for DC Comics
They really were firing on all cylinders back then
If only they could do something to find that old magic today.
|This is one that has been on my “to read” list for many years.
One of these days…
Update 5/7/23 – “Remastered” for WordPress!