Graphic Novel Review: Jonah Hex: The Six Gun War

Jonah Hex: The Six Gun War

Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Cristiano Cucina
Colors by Rob Schwager
Letters by Rob Leigh
Cover by Cristiano Cucina

$14.99 / 144 Pages / Color / Paperback

DC Comics


There are more than six guns in Jonah Hex: The Six Gun War. There's dozens if not hundreds. There are knives too, and hatchets. There's fists and fisticuffs as well as dynamite, scimitars, machetes, whips, and spears. Hell, there's even an honest-to-god cyclone to tear things up. But it's not the weaponry or the carnage that makes this a Jonah Hex event, it's the all-star lineup of western vigilantes and villains all assembled for a revenge tale as broad as the Texas sky.

Virginian plantation owner Quentin Turnbull wants Hex in the ground as restitution for his son's death during the war between the states. He joins with the Mexican madman El Papagayo and his gang of bandits to ambush Hex in the wake of a violent cyclone. Hopelessly outnumbered, Hex ends up beaten and broken, left for dead in an unmarked grave. But the dirt nap doesn't last nearly so long as Turnbull would've liked. Filthy and furious, Hex seeks out the aid of Lazarus Lane, the cowardly steward of El Diablo, the spirit of desert vengeance. 

When charming gambler Bat Lash and the scarred Tallulah Black run afoul of Papagayo's men, they too find themselves entangled in the plot. Hex has no interest in riding out with a posse, but just about everybody has it in for Turnbull, the bandits, and that damned scarlet macaw on Papagayo's shoulder. Maybe the shoulder too. Meanwhile, Turnbull's assembled a team of assassins from around the world, including beautiful twin knife throwers, a Masai warrior, and an extra from Gangs of New York. They're each itching to clip that isthmus of flesh from Hex's pie-hole, and they've no regard for collateral damage or wanton destruction. 

It gets all kinds of grizzly. 

One of the reasons we Hex fans love Palmiotti and Gray's modern series is that most issues offer a complete story, another quick morality play or lost folk tale from the wretched life of the bug-eyed bounty hunter. It's a satisfying three dollar expense. As such, most Jonah Hex trades read like anthologies. Here, Hex gets some breathing room. Well, after he busts out of the pine box his would-be killers bury him in at the head of the story. Six Gun War never gets so expansive as a cinematic spaghetti western, but the increased page count of a six issue arc allows for more beats and more beatings. It also means more betrayal and more reason to want Turnbull and his bandits dead. After climbing out of a grave, I'd probably take a day or three off. Hex rushes right back into the fray and ends up tripling his scar collection. But the real draw here is the opportunity for Hex to interact with an extended cast of characters.

For anyone who picked up Jonah Hex #50, you're familiar with the brash Tallulah Black and her love-hate-slap-kiss-punch-screw-bite-kick relationship with Hex. There's more of that here. While somewhat underused, El Diablo adds a supernatural element to the proceedings; it's his alter ego, the shadowless punk Lazarus Lane who has more dimension. The real trump card here is Bat Lash, the eloquent pretty boy who serves as both comic relief and handy wingman. Jonah's pretty grim, so having Lash around provides some much needed levity. And while he's often responsible for the many barbs hurled at Tallulah and her scars, he's also a moral compass. Sort of a rogue Jiminy Cricket.  

Cristiano Cucina's art is a little on the muddy side and I often had trouble discerning whether a figure was the gruesome Hex or the handsome Bat Lash, especially when shown in profile. Still, he's a capable storyteller and he illustrated some pretty wild carnage. There's a particularly gripping scene near the conclusion of the story where Hex and his posse have it out with the bandits in a vicious desert standoff. The landscapes are really striking and the action is quick and coherent. 

This may well be the closest we'll get to a true DCU western event. Aside from landmark issues drawn by Bernet or Cooke, these characters will mostly maintain a low profile. Even then, Hex just isn't on the radar of many mainstream comic readers. Bat Lash and El Diablo are even more obscure these days. That's a shame, because as this arc shows, their interaction and their expanded universe is well worth mining. Don't expect checklists or crossovers or variant covers or gatefolds. Think of it more as comic's answer to a big, burly Sam Peckinpah shoot-em-up. It's a great introduction to that larger world of DC westerns. Me, I'm reaching for the Showcase collection of Bat Lash stories. It really is a badass gallery of polecats and cattle rustlers. 

Order Jonah Hex: The Six Gun War from Amazon


  1. Which issues does this collect?  You mention the popular issue #50.  Is that included in this collection?  I may pick this up.

  2. @stuclach: JONAH HEX #44-49

  3. Gah! I KNEW I forgot to get something last week! I totally meant to pick this up… Glad to know it was good, that means I can justify getting it

  4. I recommend the Batlash trade from a year or so ago: Guns & Roses (I think it was called).

    The Jonah Hex showcase is awesome as well.

  5. Damn good read, but I felt the end was unsatisfying. Also, when is the great Bat Lash gonna get his own on-going series?

  6. @conor – Thank you, sir.  I’ll go add this to my wish list.

  7. Great review Paul – never had any exposure to the character so far, but I just moved my library-borrowed copy of ‘Guns of Vengeance’ to the top of my to-read pile.

  8. Hex works much better as done-in-one or two issue stories buth this longer story arc was done extremely well. I was hoping that Tony Dezuga would have been on the art but I liked Cristiano Cucina’s "muddy" art. It might not work in many comics but fits well here in the pages of Jonah Hex.  Anyone know of any of his other works.  I thought these issues handle the history of the character well and this was a very good read.

  9. The old 60’s batlash series is actually really good My dad had some old issues of it and used to love reading them.

  10. Nice review

  11. Nice review mr. montgomery. I am slowly but surely becoming a fan of Jonah hex. I think I might actually go out and buy some trades this one included