Jonah Hex #92 (August, 1985)
“A Blaze of Glory!”
Writer/Editor – Michael Fleisher
Art – Gray Morrow
Letters – Duncan Andrews
Colors – Bob LeRose
Cover Price: $0.75
Last week we took a look at the first issue of the futuristic Hex… I figured it might be fun to look at his final adventure in the old west.
Now, I’m not a big “western guy”… but, I’m willing to make an exception here.
As we open, it’s starting to rain… and our man Hex decides it to find himself some shelter, lest he wind up soaked. The barn he finds just happens to be already occupied by some bank-robbin’ varmints… who are arguing about the split of the take. Also, there is a young girl slumbering in a stall.
She is shocked awake when the robbers’ “inside man” (a banker) demands he get a cut of the loot… and winds up with a belly full’a lead for his troubles. Jonah also overhears the shot, and thinks to himself “Whut in the ding-dong?!” which is a pretty great line… which I look forward to adding to my lexicon of exclamations.
The baddies hear the young girl gasp, and decide to investigate the stall. She whacks one of them in the knee with a branding iron and rushes outside. They give chase, as she could theoretically identify them if she were to make it back to civilization. She escapes into the tall grass, and runs right into our man, Hex.
One of the robbers wanders a little too close for comfort, and so, Hex slinks behind and… shanks him! The rest of the baddies see Hex and the kid riding away.
We shift scenes to find Emmy stuck in a hole. The rain is still coming down, and if the muddy hole continues to fill up, the poor young lady will likely drown. I’m not terribly familiar with the world of Hex, so I couldn’t say whether or not Emmy is a long-tenured character. Either way, she’s in danger.
Lucky for her she’s within earshot of some old coot. He hears her shouting, and along with his loyal pup, Sawtooth, they check into the peril of our pig-tailed pal.
He rides over, and tosses Emmy a vine. He nyoinks her to safety and takes her back to his cabin so she can recover. As they make their way back, we can see that they are being watched.
Back with Jonah, he tells the young girl (who we learn is an orphan named Cindy) that he is going to drop her off with a pair of friends so he can return to the barn and nab the baddies. Cindy argues that she should remain by his side to help him out. Hex doesn’t dig that idea.
After dropping Cindy off, Hex doubles back to nab him some varmints. Cindy winds up waiting a few minutes before… stealing a horse and following him anyway!
We rejoin Emmy and the coot back at the cabin… and that voyeur we saw earlier has decided to bust on in! It’s pretty clear that he’s looking for Emmy… and so, she hoofs it… while the poor old man gets stuck dealing with the fallout.
Elsewhere, Jonah is laying in wait to pounce on the robbers… when he realizes that Cindy has followed him! This gives away Hex’s location… and actually draws a few rounds of gunfire! Jonah tackles Cindy to protect her from taking a slug to the face.
They head to the high ground so Jonah can plan their next move. He asks her if she’s ever fired a rifle… and she kinda lets it slip that she’s not quite the orphan that she presented herself as (her daddy taught her to shoot, by the way). He hands over his piece, and tells her to squeeze off a shot every ten seconds to cover him, while he tries to sneak behind the baddies.
After sneaking around, Hex lights a stick of dynamite. Unfortunately, he didn’t sneak far enough around… and finds himself staring down the barrel of one of the robbers!
Lucky for him, turns out our Miss Cindy is a heckuva crack-shot. She shoots the robber in the gut, giving Jonah enough time to toss the stick of dy-no-mite at the others! The day is saved.
Later, Jonah collects his bounty… and, get this, meets Cindy’s folks! Ya see, she was never an orphan, just a runaway. Her father tries giving Hex a reward, however, since he’s currently counting a wad of cash thick enough to choke a horse, he turns it down.
Jonah decides he could use him a drink, and so he heads to a nearby watering hole.
As he downs his whiskey, he is joined by a frantic Emmy! She tells him that she’s being tailed, and no sooner do the words leave her mouth, than the voyeuristic pursuer arrives!
The bad guy draws his gun and aims it at Hex… just then, a red light shines… and, when it passes, Jonah’s… gone!!!
I’m not a big western fan… but, I know what I like. And… I liked this!
One of the things I really appreciated about this is… at no point, beside that final page (and cover copy), does this feel like a “final” issue. It’s really just another adventure in the Old West for Jonah Hex. He rounds up some baddies and saves a young girl. Emmy’s scenes ramp up to a point where it feels like something is about to happen… then, in a flash, Jonah’s gone!
I gotta wonder how a fan of Jonah and Western Comics felt reading this back in ye old 1985… especially a fan who wasn’t really “in tune” with comics news… and didn’t know that Jonah was about to be whisked away to the far-flung future. How angry must they have been? I mean, really… Jonah Hex was the last Western standing… and here it goes!
It reminds me of that Roy Thomas anecdote, where he subscribed to All-Star Comics… and with the second issue of his subscription, the title had changed to All-Star Western! Imagine being subscribed to Jonah Hex… and receiving Hex #1 during your sub! It’s such a staggering shift… I’m gonna have to cruise the ancient USENET and see if I can find some “as it happens” reactions.
Back to the story… I dug the introduction of sharp-shootin’ Cindy, and wonder if maybe Michael Fleisher might’ve been hedging his bets. I’m postulating, but… I wonder if he was hopeful that Cindy would get a decent fan-reaction, and perhaps prompt a title of her own, taking Hex’s “old west” mantle. Hell, for all I know (I am at a disadvantage when it comes to talking about Westerns)… that might actually exist somewhere in the world!
Overall… not only an important issue… but one I had a great time reading! I’d definitely recommend giving it a look, even if you are not normally into Westerns. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look to be available digitally… nor has it been collected in trade.
(Not the) Letters Page: