Review by: dix

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Cover by LADRONN

Size: 0 pages
Price: 3.99

If there is one bad thing about ALL-STAR WESTERN #6, it’s that it makes me wish ALL-STAR WESTERN #5 were much, much better.

We rejoin Hex and Arkham in the depths of the Batcave, where they’ve encountered a tribe of natives and bats of unusual size. Fighting their way out is a simple matter, quickly dealt with, so that the story can move on to Wayne Manor, and help for the enslaved children in the sewers (discovered back in #4). The conclusion of that plot feels very rushed at first, until Hex realizes that there’s more to this case than meets the eye.

This is an installment of the Jonah Hex story that really moves. A lot happens, the action is brutal and exciting, and the dialogue well done. It’s curious: Hex sees Gotham much the way modern inhabitants of Gotham see it, as a cesspool. It’s the Waynes and Arkham and most everyone else who think of it as a great city. Though the reference isn’t overdone (inasmuch as it can be with the Waynes actually on the scene), this sets an interesting counterpoint to Batman, who is the only person in his time who thinks Gotham can be – is – a great city. Both he and Hex fight against Gotham’s nature, but for completely opposite reasons.

The problem with the story here is that it leaves pretty much everything that happened last issue dangling unresolved. It’s almost laughable how easily the Waynes brush off Arkham’s account of the things they saw below the manor. It makes #5 feel entirely like filler.

The backup story, the third and final part of “The Barbary Ghost”, keeps up this trend. The second installment felt slow and almost like it was a completely unnecessary rehash of part one; now part three tries to make up for lost time, and does reasonably well at that. The Ghost is clever and deadly, and her humdrum revenge plot finally starts to become interesting. I’d’ve liked this story to have focused on this part, because part three feels like it easily could have been two, if not three, separate installments, while parts one and two probably could’ve been condensed into just one – and probably not a whole one at that. There just wasn’t anything new or exciting about the setup to the revenge plot. (Granted, there’s not really anything new in the revenge plot itself, either, but it’s more fun.) For now, though, it seems we’ll move on from the Barbary Ghost, though the character may not be done yet.

This is a superb issue, but it is so to the detriment of the previous one, which adds very little to the series now; even so, suffice to say that I’m saddled up for the next arc to begin.

Story: 5 - Excellent
Art: 4 - Very Good

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