Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Jonah Hex

He was a hero to some, a villain to others...and wherever he rode, people spoke his name in whispers.
He had no friends, this Jonah Hex, but he did have two constant companions; One was death itself...the other, the acrid smell of gunsmoke....

Hardly ever bought westerns back in the Bronze Age. Hardly ever bought war books either, or the DC mystery titles for that matter. Didn't see the point when there was all those superheroes flying around. 
Sure, occasionally I'd pick up a Kid Colt Outlaw or Rawhide Kid if there was nothing else in the shop, but somehow Jonah Hex almost completely passed me by. I was aware of him, but just wasn't that interested.
More fool me, 'cos as I've since discovered as an alleged grown-up, Jonah Hex is one of comics' great anti-heroes, right up there with Conan or The Punisher.
Plus, he's purtier than both of 'em.

Designed by the late, great Tony DeZuniga, Jonah is a mean, deadly bounty hunter who retains an inner goodness he's not often keen to show off. Disfigured and tortured by Apaches, his face is half good / half evil, just like his christian / satanic name, and he comes with a compelling backstory you only slowly discover as the original series progresses.
For most of his Bronze Age career, he was written by the barking mad Michael Fleisher, Mr. Misanthropy himself, and was a case of a writer and character being a match made in Hell.

There was a not especially great movie a couple of years ago, with a miscast Josh Brolin, and I wouldn't bother, as clearly nobody realised that a Jonah Hex movie had already been made, sort of. It was called The Outlaw Josey Wales. But for a proper adaptation, far better to check out the animated one, part of the DC Showcase series. Here's a fan made trailer to give you a flavour:


While here's his first appearance, sort of. This is a fill-in / reprint of Jonah's debut, wrapped round a new prologue and epilogue that gives an added dimension to the original story, and for once, it's a fill-in idea that worked. Here's the deadliest gunfighter in the West:


  1. You really missed out on Jonah Hex if you didn't read it during the 70s. It was one of the few comic books I bought back then. You also forgot to mention that it was John Albano who created him. Albano was a humorous cartoonist, usually doing the Pete the cop gags for DC, if I remember correctly. Though it was with Fleischer that the character was fleshed out. The character was totally anti-pc, which is what bothered me when he was resurrected this century.

    And yes, Josey Wales is the real Hex film. There was a time when all the readerrs wrote asking for Eastwood to portray Hex in the movies.

  2. As a kid, it was all about Cap, Spidey, and Batman. As an adult, I'm into Conan, Unknown Soldier, and Jonah. Back issues, trades, and even the new stuff (though DC keeps messing with and has now canceled Jonah--its best mag by far of the 2000s. Well, until the New 52 bogged it down...

  3. I was never a big fan of Westerns as a kid (still not really) but fortunately for me one day on a visit to the newsagents for a comic there was only a couple of poor Charlton humour titles available and an issue of Weird Western Tales so I picked it up - excellent stuff, and have been a reader of Jonah Hex on and off ever since -I even read the rather strange Keith Giffen futuristic Hex title - Jonah Hex was also (imho) the best DC title (and one of the best comics, period) in the last 5/6 years and the best by a mile of the DC new 52 (sadly no longer published) some amazing stories in those new comic and without doubt some of the best artists doing comics (if you see some pick them up you wont be disappointed) especially the issues with art by the amazing Rafael Garres. I agree the film was very average ...apart from Megan Fox ;)