30 Days of Comics, Day 25: All Star Western #1
Admittedly, I thought it a little curious that DC would bring back its classic Western anthology series, All Star Western. Somehow, I don’t think the demand for Western comics has increased much since the series finished its second run back in 1972. Even though it had a good run the only really enduring character the series produced was Jonah Hex and, despite that atrocity of a film adaptation starring Josh Brolin, he’s not exactly a mainstream character. Still, I personally like the Western genre and was interested to see what kind of book this was going to be.
So the main star of our all star western is none other than the tough-as-nails bounty hunter and frontiersman, Jonah Hex. If you don’t know anything about Jonah Hex then don’t expect this book to explain anything to you. Admittedly, a character like Hex doesn’t really need an origin story and I actually think it’s a good move for this book to ignore his origins for now; ignoring them doesn’t really make the book any less accessible for new readers and would just slow things down. All you need to know is that he’s rough, tough and uglier than a horned-toad what met the underside of a wagon train.
What’s truly surprising about this book is that our story is actually set in 1880s Gotham City, which technically does not make this a Western. Now granted, Jonah Hex has regularly had storylines in places far away from the frontier like South America and China. So long as they stick to the time period, I don’t see a problem but this is also the first issue of DC’s new Western comic. Shouldn’t the first issue actually take place in a traditional Western setting? I’m not saying that the setting of 19th Century Gotham isn’t effective, but it doesn’t really scream Old West adventure. In fact, the tone of this comic feels more like a Gothic horror story than anything else.
Overall I really did enjoy this story, but there are a few things that need to be addressed. First, there’s the fact that this really doesn’t qualify as a Western. For one thing, it’s kind of light on elements like gunfights and horse chases, but to be fair it does throw us a barroom brawl and a lot of hookers.