This month we are going to be taking a deep dive into a different part of the DCU then we normally do and a part of it that doesn’t get as much attention these days as the Superhero genre does.
The “Western” became a big deal in the 1950s and 1960s. The media of the day were full of stories set in the Old West and comics were no different in that respect. Various comics companies in existence at the time had at least one Western themed comic and some even had more.
The popularity and sales of superhero related comics were in a decline at the time so DC rebranded All Star Comics, which had been the home of the superhero team the Justice Society of America, to a Western themed anthology called All Star Western. It began publishing with issue #58 (having taken over it’s predecessors numbering) in May of 1951.
Our feature character for this month became a regular in the second volume of ASW (later retitled Weird Western Tales) as well as its third volume. He was also the star of his own solo series. And more recently we have learned he has a great, great grand daughter named Ginny.
C of DC is proud to present: Jonah Hex
As with previous months I will be posting interesting tidbits of information both on Jonah Hex and on the Western genre of comics as well as weekly discussion questions covering the issues we will be reading. Questions related to each week’s readings will be posted on Sundays starting on Sunday April 4th.
Wondered if the Justice League main cast; Flash, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Green Lantern (Allen Scott & Jay Garrick) ever did any Western stuff? I could totally see the Wayne family involved in railroads and the Luthor’s involved in the Plantations.
Just reread the 70 issue Jonah Hex run on here and starting All Star Western. History Club will do the Western genre sometime later this year, but will definitely link back here for discussion on these stories. More later on my thoughts but running out of steam tonight, cheers.
Also, keep on eye out for primates — Message Sponsored by DC History Club.
Are those in your collection @msgtv? If so that’s really cool. I was recently lucky enough to get to read Jonah Hex’s first appearance in All Star Western #10 that a friend of mine had in his collection. (That was an adventure and a half let me tell you that included social distancing and masking not just because of Covid but because I am allergic to the paper.)
So, Hex a top 10 all time character for me. Loved reading his Westerns as a kid, and I’ve always thought he traveled well as a character into different genre. I even enjoyed his future dystopia series. I’m not sure I’ve ever read the Secret Origins story before. Now, his pa abusing him and ma I’ve seen before and in the modern books much more compellingly. But, the interesting thing about this version is the story that frames that origin. His Cheyenne wife and his corpse made for a good story. Plus, I now know if I had been lucky enough to be raised by condors near a glowing rock I’d be able to fly too.
Definitely with you there @msgtv. He is one of my favorites as well.
It was my dad who first introduced me to Westerns through movies and old radio shows. It was something special we did as bonding time. I, in turn, later introduced him to Western themed comics, which he enjoyed. Jonah Hex was his favorite character.
I also agree with you that he can travel through various genres and still fit within any of them. I’ve never read the Hex series you mentioned but I plan to at some point even though there are fans that dislike it.
I did find the story surrounding Jonah’s origin (of a sort anyway) the more interesting of the two in Secret Origins.
I wish I could find a glowing rock that would give me the power to fly. Would be very useful.
These are a good representation of standard Hex stories. He shows up in town, takes a bounty, things go sideways for somebody, Hex gets captured/tortured/almost killed, and in the end lots of people get shot. But I enjoy these a lot. This is also the most consistent art you’ll find in this series. As for what type of character. Hex is an anti-hero. The definition of which is “in the age of the antihero, baddies and goodies became less distinguishable from one another.” Clearly based on Eastwood’s spaghetti western characters, Hex has a code, but it’s not the same code a ‘civilized’ person would have, but in the end he’s on the side of good, even if he does bad.
Love Bat Lash, the womanizing, gambling, gunslinger. Rather be Bat the Jonah.
Tangent: The DCUI blurb describes Bat Lash as a pacifist. This is about the third incorrect use of pacifist I’ve seen in a week. Bat punches, kicks and shots people. By definition, he’s not a pacifist. Now, he’d rather make love than war, but who wouldn’t.
I really enjoyed the art here quite a bit. It really does set the tone for the stories being told here.
And I expect we all know how much I love anti-heroes. I do wonder how Hex and Jason would get along if they were to ever have a team up? I think I’d like to see that.
I think all anti-heroes have a code they follow it’s just not one that heroes can completely back or that some heroes can even understand. All in all I think it’s a might harder for an anti-heroes because while they are doing good, as you say, they are looked at as bad.
Reminds me of many a character in those Westerns I’d watch with my dad. And you’re right. Bat Lash ain’t no pacifist but he is defiantly more about making love not war.
So, now into the updated All-Star Western. As time goes on the words “All-Star Western” get smaller while “Jonah Hex” gets bigger. I really really liked the start of this series. Putting Jonah in Gotham is a nice scenario to see him do his Hex thing. Arkham is a perfect straight man/partner. He can see things Hex can’t, but in other areas he’s a complete mess. I also like that as the series goes on we see other western characters for extended stays, including my favorite Tallullah Black. Unlike most Hex stories, we get multi-issue arcs which is a nice change of pace.
The back up stories are more hit and miss for me. Barbary Ghost, Night Hawk and Cinnamon, El Diablo are the high point. I’m up to issue 16 now, and it’s running out of steam for me a little now. They probably should have mixed some single issue stories in.