Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Comics: Hex sign.

Lest we forget that Halloween is rollin' around, the fine folks at DC Comics have produced a special Halloween issue of Jonah Hex everybody's favorite horribly mutilated Wild West bounty hunter. (Shown above dispatching the Man of Steel - clickee to see more big.)

Jonah Hex - a former Confederate cavalry officer who, after the war, became a notorious bounty hunter – is one of the most recognizable characters in funny books. See, Hex had an unfortunate run-in with some irate Native Americans and the result is a mug that could scare vultures off a gut wagon. The left side of Hex's face is completely normal. He's a blond and he's normally got a few days worth of stubble on him. The right side, though, that's a different matter. His right eye is large and saucer-like, as if the lids of his eye have been cut away. The skin of his right cheek was also stripped away, forming a sort of wedge shaped area where, even when his mouth is closed, his teeth and gums are visible. Finally, in what is perhaps the neatest bit of character design in the DC Comics universe, this weird strip of skin comes from an attached point under his right eye, hangs lose over his mouth, and re-attaches just above his chin. How in hell did that happen? Did some hack sawbones have this extra strip of skin and decided that he'd better save it somehow? I don't know. But it does add this surreal, gross touch to the character.

Despite his zombie-like appearance, Hex's earliest adventures were never really all that supernatural. He started his career in pages of All-Star Western, later to be renamed Weird Western Tales, the sister title to Weird War Stories. Both titles were showcases for genre bending tales that mixed horror elements with Western stories and combat tales. Oddly, as if it were an expression of his sour and contrary personality, Hex's stories remained firmly and solely in the Western idiom. And he stayed that way for more than a decade, branching off into this own book in '77.

In 1985, Jonah Hex was cancelled, but the character was retooled into sci-fi hero. With the help of some time-travelers Hex ended up in a post-nuclear war Mad Max type scenario. This played poorly in the US, but was well received in Europe, where the appetite for stories of America after the fall knows no bounds. This bizarre Hex Beyond the Thunderdome detour lasted all of 18 issues before it too was cancelled.

Hex lie fallow for several years until, in 1993, noted novelist and short story author Joe R. Lansdale created the first of three mini-series that placed Hex in a true Western/horror context. Lansdale's first series, Two Gun Mojo pitted the West's ugliest hero against a evil gang of sideshow freaks and the zombie of Wild Bill Hickcock. This was followed by Riders of the Worm and Such, which featured Hex going up against what's essentially Cthulhu, and Shadows West, in which the bounty hunter faced off against ghosts.

(As an aside, Hex got his day in court when the albino Texan music legends the Winter brothers sued DC for defamation over the appearance of the Autumn brothers, two albino mutant Cthulhu worshippers that appear in Riders of the Worm and Such. The Winters lost the case.)

In 2005, Jonah was back in a regular series. It was back to basics for the new creative team. Hex was stripped of all time-travel gimmicks and hoodoo trappings and returned to his role as a thoroughly unpleasant bounty hunter of dubious moral standing in a dark, but somewhat realistic West.

At least, until Halloween.

The Halloween issue re-unites Hex with two of DC's other Western heroes: Bat Lash and El Diablo. Bat Lash is a dandified gambler of the "Maverick" variety. El Diablo's a weirder sort – think of fusion between Zorro and Ghost Rider and you'll have an idea of what we're talking about. El Diablo is a lawyer by day, but at night a hell-spawned demon takes him over and, wearing Zorro-style mask and cape, he takes to the dusty streets of the West to punish the evil with his flaming bullwhip. I kid not.

The plot of the Halloween issue involves Hex becoming possessed by El Diablo's demon and taking on a witch and he zombie horde. It ain't Shakespeare, but in the words of Jonah Hex: "Lead, not words." All hell breaks loose, so to speak, and the carnage equals Halloween fun.

11 comments:

Sasquatchan said...

so was this one of superman's many deaths ? (Sorry, I didn't follow him very well...)

And kryptonite buckshot, from a pistol ? Hmm. Maybe the writer's need some lessons from the NRA ;)

Screamin' Dave said...

What's the context here? When did this epic battle occur? Fanboy minds want to know!

CRwM said...

Screamin' Sassy and Dave,

The Hex vs. Supes and Batman throw down occurred in the pages of "Batman/Superman" (the modern incarnation of World's Finest that doesn't actually have a title - just a symbol that combines Bat's and Supes' logos).

The short version is that time traveling baddies go back and raise the youthful Batman and Superman to become tyrants. Uncle Sam (yeah, that Uncle Sam) and his World War II Freedom Fighters take them on and knock time even further out of whack. This leads to things like Hex and the rest of the DC Western cast going ballistic on DC's finest on the steps of Gotham PD's HQ. In an earlier scene, in a different time stream, we get to watch Sgt. Rock and Haunted Tank attack the two. Good stuff.

This is also my explanation for buckshot shootin' pistols: It occurred in an alternate history where pistols shoot buckshot. Prove me wrong!

Sasquatchan said...

It's not the history -- revolvers have a non-trivial gap between the cylinder and the barrel. Unless the buckshot is wadded very well, I don't see it working. The shot can get caught in the gap with catastrophic results.

I know there's various snake-shot type cartridges out there for hand-guns, that are in principle "buckshot" cartridges. I don't know if they are meant to work with revolvers.

Heh Google says there are snake-shot providers for .38 revolvers. Strange.

cattleworks said...

CRwM:
I think we need to give Jed a call...

CRwM said...

Screamin' Cattle,

You kidding? This is my only chance to get first post. No that I wish him ill or anything . . . but First Post!

I kid.

I am glad you dropped a comment though. I've flaked and lost your email address. Could you shoot me an email at crwm44@yahoo.com again?

Jed Cooper said...

Scruffy ole Jed appearing on the horizon, as his trusty steed steps through a cactus patch, lol. Howdy folks.

Yep they do indeed make snake shot loads designed to be fired through either semi-auto pistols or a revolver. In a revolver they are available for .38spc/.357 mag, .44spc/.44 mag, and .45 S&W/.45 Colt. One ammo company even sells the plastic shotshell capsules so you can load your own rounds. Given that option you can use basically any size shot that would fit into the plastic capsule. The plastic capsule containing the shot is what leaves the cylinder and enters the forcing cone (the part of the barrel that protrudes near the cylinder.

While moving down the barrel, the rifling begins to break up the plastic shotshell and the shot emerges from the muzzle along with pieces of broken plastic. I normally use either no. 9 or 7.5 shot to load my snake loads, which actually work very effectively on Mr. No Shoulders. But you could use larger shot up to a buck size too large to fit into the plastic capsule.

So I reckon it could be done, and actually was done to some degree in the days of the real west. Cowboys bought their ammo whenever they were in town and running low. But out in the boonies they would sit around the campfire at night, and using a handtool, much like a large pair of plyers, would reload their own rounds to keep plenty of rounds handy. They normally used a round lead bullet, but as long as they could seal the end of the cartridge case, they could put any type of shot inside the casing.

Sorry to ramble so much, but shucks Jed is normally out riding the range, and don't often get to sit at a campfire with other folks and share a cup of coffee, lol. The short answer is yes it could have been done.
Btw, Jed has been a life member of the NRA for about 37 years now (tips my hat).

Man oh man, can you youngens make an old fart feel ancient too, lmao. I am looking around trying to remember if I even have a wheelchair to sit down in now. But you have enlightened me to the fact that I have been totally out of touch with "comics" (if that name truly applies now) for at least about 45 years or so now.

But shucks, "new" is not necessarily a bad thing either, lol. Actually I would probably enjoy Mr. Jonah Hex.

Don't worry about the first comment at all either, lol. Actually I replied to you, and explained while being first make me smile, seeing someone else has beaten me on a post for Miss Heather really makes me grin wide. So it will never be a problem to me if some other fans beats me (tips my hat). Just to clarify I think Mr. Cattle was talking about to try to answer the buckshot out of revolver issue, hehehe.

Well thanks for the coffee partners, reckon I will be moving on, lot of desperados to hunt down, lmao. Btw Mr. Cattle, it really did irritate me when I had to take my western hat off at 5 to climb into bed, but I had not figured out you could lay it over your face then either, lmao. All I knew was it kept fighting me for the pillow. But shucks, the double gun belt and cowboy boots simply did not come off. After all, a cowboy has to always be prepared to fight off injuns or rustlers or shucks I reckon even zombies, werewolved and vapmire type desperados too, hehehe. I also said if you liked the idea, feel free to use it for free - my contribution to your endeavors sir.

Interesting post for sure. I guess you can teach a ole dog a few new tricks still.

CRwM said...

He lives!

Sasquatchan said...

Wow, this blog's really picking up the famous folks. Might be a tough ride for hangers-on like myself ;)

Jed Cooper said...

Shucks folks. For those few who know me, there are only two things I am "famous" for, lol.
(1) Being afflicted with jaw-jacking of the fingers, and (2) being a major fan of horror movies of that aquatic wonder Miss Mermaid Heather who loves to review them.

But I reckon there are worse things in life to be known for too, lol.

cattleworks said...

Who knew this innocent Jonah Hex post would be such a lightening rod for commentary excitement!

Meanwhile, CRwM: I just came across this cool gallery of Eerie magazine covers and i saw the visage of Coffin, the magazine's raised from the dead western character.
I probably have some of these issues, but I completely forgot about him. I was wondering if you were familiar with him.
Facially, it looks like they're ripping off/inspired by Jonah Hex AND the Amazing Colossal Man. Originality or lack thereof aside, I think some of the covers are cool.

Gallery:

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.pixeltube.com/wmc/scdata/e95s.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.pixeltube.com/wmc/efilesa.html&h=90&w=67&sz=3&hl=en&start=14&tbnid=lQKt9gGNQSN7WM:&tbnh=78&tbnw=58&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpenalva,%2Bart%26gbv%3D2%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG%26ie%3DUTF-8

Sheesh!
Check out covers, 61, 67, and 70.
67 and 70 are pretty cool, and the visual connection to Hex and Colossal more obvious.

Later...
These comments totally cracked me up.