Jonah Hex: Where Do I Start?

Art by Andrew Robinson

Westerns have a long tradition in comics, but the foremost all of those gun-slinging heroes is DC’s Jonah Hex. With an unbreakable code of honor and a passion to stand up for the little man, Hex has stood at odds with everyone from crooked politicians to no good lawmen and even various manner of animal and monster.

Originally created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga in 1972′s All-Star Western #10, Hex quickly became the (scarred) face of Westerns at DC and in comics in general. The one-time Confederate soldier turned bounty hunter/renegade carved a startling visage in the minds of those he faced. In the intervening years Hex has crossed paths with virtually everyone past, present and future. Hex has beaten Batman in a duel, killed Superman in an alternate reality, and even made a life for himself in a Road Warrior-like future. In recent years, Hex has been the sole  western comic series to have a continued existence, with his renewed popularity giving birth to a movie…. an abysmal movie admittedly. Yet Hex’s popularity survived it.

In today’s Where Do I Start? we delve into the deserve array of tall tales that have been spun about the so-called Mark of the Demon, trying to make sense of it all and working like a modern-day gold digger to find true treasure. He’s what we found:

Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo: When a true-grit western anti-hero like Jonah Hex faces off against a zombie horde, sparks are bound to fly. Seeing the classic western icon of Jonah Hex submerged into a pure supernatural story is delightfully refreshing; instead of dulling the character, it only strengthens him in this unusual context. And if zombies brought to life by a voodoo snake-oil salesman definitely doesn’t qualifies as unusual in your book, wait until you find out what real life western historical figure is one of the human undead (hint: he’s Wild). And there’s no way to underscore just how good the team of Joe R. Lansdale and Tim Truman are in this five-issue series originally published in 1993. While other comics fans were going wild at the time over the rise of Image Comics and the stunt-storytelling in Marvel and DC’s s superhero books, Lansdale and Truman deliver a timeless story about Hex navigating a sea of proverbial snakes and giving each of them a taste of his own venom.

Jonah Hex, Vol. 3: Origins: This early collection from Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s run shows the writing duo finding their true measure and giving Hex a true run for his money. Tying their fortunes to artists like Jordi Bernet and Phil Noto, this foursome delves into the true origins of Hex from his scars to his upbringing. Also keyed in here is the two-part “Ballad of Tallulah Black,” which fleshed out this newly introduced character into one of the most enterprising and deadly forces Jonah has come across.

DC Special Series, Vol. 2 #16 (“The Jonah Hex Spectacular): Although this is a tough issue to find, it’s worth the trip. This 1978 one-off story by writer Michael L. Fleisher and Russ Heath take on the daunting task of writing the finale to the life of Jonah Hex. In this story, “The Last Bounty Hunter,” Fleisher and Heath show Hex as an old man in the first years of the 20th Century. Past his prime and out of his time, Hex is working out his days as a bounty hunter while giving in to a would-be journalist trying to put Hex’s life story down on paper. I won’t spoil the ending, but just imagine this: what do you think Hex would say if he was invited to be part of a Wild West stage show?

Jonah Hex, Vol. 8: The Six Gun War: Most of Jonah Hex stories are ones about one lone man against an army of forces, but this six-part story-arc from 2009 sees Hex team up with other DC western icons like Bat Lash and Diablo for a long-awaited and bitter face-off with his chief archnemesis, Quentin Turnbull. If you like tension-filled western stories like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, then this one is for you. Palmiotti and Gray team up with Italian artist Cristiano Cucina and really deliver a full- fledged Western crossover.

Comments

  1. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Antiheroes aren’t born. They’re scarred.

  2. Wentos Wentos says:

    I love Jonah Hex with all my heart, but a Where Do I Start? article is really superfluous. The beauty of Jonah Hex is that you can start ANYWHERE. The vast majority of Jonah Hex stories are one-off adventures that anyone picking up the book for the first time could enjoy. Whether it’s a 70′s Fleisher tale or a new Gray/Palmiotti issue, a Hex neophyte could read it and immediately understand what’s going on.

    What Hex books should you read? Whatever you can get your grubby little hands on.

  3. Chris Arrant Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) says:

    Wentos: i agree that generally Hex stories are more accessible than most, but would you recommend the futuristic HEX issues? I’d love your thoughts on those.

    • Wentos Wentos says:

      In my mind, Hex hanging out in the future is somehow less blasphemous than Hex hanging out in an east coast city like Gotham. But, like in All-Star Western, Hex is still Hex and he brings the awesome wherever he goes.

  4. Parri Parri (@pazzatron) says:

    I finished reading All-Star Western #0 and thought: “Man, I need to read me some definitive Hex stories, I wonder if iFanboy has done a Where Do I Start on him?”

    And lo, it’s front page news.

    Thanks, iFanboy!

  5. 400yrs 400yrs says:

    I read a few issues of the recent series and a few issues of the series prior, but I’d recommend #50 from the last run to anyone. A great one and done.

  6. Sherlock19 Sherlock19 says:

    All-Star Western is one of my favorite comics. I also like to buy back issues of Jonah Hex for fun. I would’ve never picked up a Jonah Hex book if it weren’t for iFanboy (community+podcast)

  7. J. Zahm says:

    signed up just to say how awesome this article is. the palmiotti and gray series is severely underrated. as Wentos stated above, the best place to start is to just pick up any of the trades and dive right in. the recent zero issue which came out this week was my favorite book this week. check it out, if you dig it, go find more hex, as you won’t be disappointed.