Jonah Hex goes retro

I was going to really lay into DC Comics. I was gonna offer a major complaint about their new graphic novel “Jonah Hex: No Way Back,” especially since this ought to be a top-grade product with a big budget Jonah Hex movie that’s coming out in June.

The film, starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox and John Malkovich, does seem to take a few liberties with Hex, but it still looks kind of fun.
So we were all ready to complain … and then we felt guilty about not liking it as much as we think should. Jonah Hex: No Way Out
The 136-page hardcover about DC’s malformed cowboy, which hit stands early next month, is written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti.
And for me, a “Gray and Palmiotti book” is as good as gold. CotB has loved them on books such as “Monolith” and “Power Girl,” so we didn’t have any doubts.

But then we looked inside, and the art by Tony DeZuniga was really .. uhm … underwhelming. 
Perspectives were awry. Characters looked squashed.

In fact, one has to seriously worry about DC’s decision-making: Why would they hire a C-Grade artist for a book that can score some major sales on the coattails of “Jonah Hex” movie?

Then we flipped to the back and read the creator profiles — lo and behold, Tony DeZuniga isn’t just some “C-Grade artist” — he’s the guy who co-created Jonah Hex and illustrated the character’s original adventure back in 1972.
So for that, we certainly can give “Jonah Hex: No Way Back” a little slack.
Reconnecting readers to an industry veteran gets high marks in my book, and something that always appreciated.

However, DC did itself a disservice by not  marketing the book that way. Modern readers will be put off by DeZuniga’s style, and older readers won’t ever hear about it because DC offers far too little context about DeZuniga’s influence on the character and the industry.

And honestly, reverence for a veteran artist aside, this art just doesn’t cut it. It’s more 1980s underground zine than modern big publisher.

As for the story, “No Way Out” offers a few details on the cowboy’s early life and introduces us to Hex’s until-now-unknown half-brother, and the two make some attempts at being all family-like.
But as happens with any Jonah Hex story (and most modern Westerns) things go south, and they never truly recover. Hex tries to rally the troops, but unless you’re a veteran gunfighter, a rally can only go so far.

Yes, it is familiar territory.
And that’s about all “Jonah Hex: No Way Back” has to offer: Art that you feel you ought to like (but don’t particularly) that’s coupled with the kind of Western story you’ve seen far too often.


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