ALL-STAR WESTERN #4
What did the
Art by MORITAT and PHIL WINSLADE
Cover by LADRONN
Size: 40 pages
If there were two characters I could never compare each other it would be Jonah Hex and Batman. Strangely, with this new relaunch, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are aiming to prove there is such a connection with this series. Sure you have the obvious connection with Gotham City as the setting; but there’s more to it then that.
Firstly, you have Amadeus Arkham following Hex around and it’s clear they have some big endgame for this connection. You don’t have Arkham following around a deranged bounty hunter and see horrifying things and not get ready to create some sort of Asylum. Then you have his interrogation methods and while Batman would never shoot someone, the way Hex deals with one of the bounties early on is something Batman would do. Just replace a bullet ridden hand with broken fingers and you get the same thing. Also, Hex had an uncanny ability of sneaking into places and taking people out if need be. He does it twice in this issue and it’s surprising to see this ability not used often. Finally, the people are Gotham City in this old age seem to be against Hex because he is new and too much of an Outlaw. Remind you of anyone in his early days as a crime fighter?
When Palmiotti and Gray aren’t making Hex a Batman v.1 they do a lot of great things in this issue. Going back to the bounty getting his hand shot, I must say it was disturbing to watch but worryingly hilarious. This guy doesn’t seem to care he’s losing digits, and he even reminds Hex when he loses his count, and that gives him huge balls on my scorecard. Also, there’s a lot of great vaudeville type jokes in this from Hex only agreeing to do a job when money is at stake or the helpful citizen slinking away when Hex threatens him. It’s a nice balance like this that makes the more horrifying moments, like seeing a disease ridden child on his death bed, that much more unbearable to look at.
The one thing that is plaguing this series is the uneven art by Moritat. This issue once again brings some unevenness to the art but for the most part I approve of this change. I think the problem was that Moritat seemed to do everything before hand; from the pencils, to the inks, to the colors. So now with a colorist (Gabriel Bautista) working on his own it’ll give Moritat more time to do his other work. You can never say Moritat ever flinches on the detail in his pencils. The opening page alone seems to be drawn by a man obsessed on showing every single brick in a sewer. I also noticed that the faces this time around are much better and not as rushed as the previous issue. Also the style seems to subtly change whether the situation is grim/gritty or just normal exposition. I noticed it when Hex was in the church and talking to the Nuns. The facts looks more smooth and crisp while scenes, like Hex fighting the bountys, are more ugly and has a bit more detail in the faces. It’s a really nice touch that adds much more depth to the art then at first glance.
I was legitimately concerned about this issue before opening it. The unevenness of the art and story threw me off last time and I didn’t want to think of dropping it. But leave it to Palmiotti, Gray, and Moritat to throw away my concerns and do a pretty damn great issue of this run so far. The story is entertaining and the guys are clearly trying to make Jonah Hex the precursor to Batman. With Moritat getting some help in the coloring department we can see just how beautiful his art can really be when he doesn’t have a million things on his plate. Finally, the back up in this particular issue was much more fun to read and look at with art by Phil Winslade. Overall this is probably my Pick of the Week for the final week of 2011 and I’m damn happy for it.
Art: 5 - Excellent