Critical Review: All-Star Western
Saddle up partner, it’s time for a new adventure. This week we take a look at DC’s New 52 All-Star Western, wrangle us up some killers with the likes of Jonah Hex himself, yee-haw! I promise no more of that, I just had to get it out of my system. Next to Aquaman, which I’ve already talked about, All-Star Western is the title that caught me the most off guard in a good way. I grew up on westerns, all my Great-Uncle and my Grandfather watched was westerns, and football. I know a thing or two about John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Burt Lancaster’s epic legacy of the wild, seemingly untamable west. Jonah Hex follows in their mighty footsteps, and he does it all with both guns blazing and his enemies falling before him. All-Star is penned by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray who have been working with the character for quite some time, with art by Moritat.
Gotham City, meet Jonah Hex.
Hex’s new adventure puts him in a whole new world as he wanders into the Gotham of the 1880′s. It seems there is a killer, known as the Gotham Butcher, similar to Jack the Ripper, plaguing Gotham and Doctor Amadeus Arkham has summoned the help of the best bounty hunter money can buy.
This book really plays off the bizarre companions model as Dr. Arkham and Jonah Hex investigate a series of murders and uncover a plot deeper than they ever imagined. Making some very powerful enemies along the way and getting themselves in to a world of hurt. Arkham narrates the tale through a series of notes, mainly about Jonah’s bizarre personality and borderline sociopathy. There’s a bar fight in issue one where Amadeus has this to say about Mr. Hex:
“Seeking out dangerous situations, alcohol, gambling, and promiscuity are likely his primary motivating factors. In addition to his orgiastic approach to violence, it may possibly be his only means of finding enjoyment. I am fascinated and terrified by him.”
It’s interesting to see the founder of Arkham Asylum’s thoughts on such a bizarre and truly underrated character in DC’s universe. Palmiotti and Gray do a fantastic job writing both Hex and Arkham’s dialogue. I especially love Hex’s southern dialect and absolute no bullshit approach to dealing with these damn city folk. Being raised in Virginia I can perfectly hear every absurd thing he says. The storyline is intriguing so far and I’ll admit that I was REALLY hoping that there was some connection to Batman’s current Court of Owls storyline, but so far no dice. It’s pretty cool that two of DC’s books deal with secret societies in Gotham at two different periods in history I just wish that they tied together.
The second and third issues show Hex and Arkham fall into that aforementioned world of hurt. There is a whopping 3 pages of epic gun fighting in issue 2. Three pages, numerous panels. No dialogue. Just BLAMS and POWs and AAAAAAH! Ladies and gentlemen, this is not your father’s western.
What do I love about this comic? The writing. I’ve been a huge fan of Palmiotti ever since Ash and he has never let me down. As mentioned before, the dialogue alone is worth the cover price. Every “Tell me whut I wanna know, an’ ah’ll help ya.”, “Ah don’t reckon ah like him much.” and “You better git!” just makes my day. I wish that a story about organized crime in Gotham was new, but it’s not. Palmiotti and Gray handle it well though, and have brought an interesting spin on it.
What don’t I like? The art. It’s not bad enough to keep me from reading the book, so it’s not that bad.The coloring is what bothers me the most. It looks blobby and uncaring, especially in singular panels. I just wish it didn’t look so rushed, especially at $3.99.
I really love this book, even with it’s sub-par art and I highly recommend it if you want a look into the psyche of Jonah Hex and what Gotham was like pre-Batman.