REVIEW: All-Star Western #0

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One of the niche titles to emerge from DC’s New 52, All Star Western’s tales of Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham have told some pretty good stories in its run so far. Now, in the middle of Zero Month, the book presents a tale of Jonah Hex’s past and provides some details of the mysterious gunslinger’s past. Get ready to slap leather, the Major Spoilers review awaits!

ALL-STAR WESTERN #0
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Artist: Moritat
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Kate Stewart
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in ALL-STAR WESTERN All-Star Western is a title that is typically divided into two stories. While the back-up story alternates through a variety of Western heroes, the main feature always examines the adventures of Jonah Hex, the rough n’ tumble bounty hunter, and Amadeus Arkham, the nebbish and scholarly doctor. Together, they tackle the corruption and chaos that exists within the Gotham City of the late 1800’s. Most recently, the duo have been caught in the middle of a thrilling gang war between the followers of the Crime Bible and the Court of Owls. After an incredibly violent skirmish, the heads of the Crime Bible are killed by Hex and his companions, but the Court of Owls escapes detection. Last issue ended with the introduction of a newcomer to Gotham who claims a connection to Dr. Jekyll…yes, THAT Dr. Jekyll.

BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Westerns, but when done right, they capture my attention. I’m not a fan of John Wayne, but I love True Grit and Hondo. I’ve read a couple of Louis L’amour novels. However, until the New 52, I’d never read a Jonah Hex comic. I gave the series a try thanks to the intriguing idea of setting the series in Gotham, adding Dr. Arkham and sprinkling bits of supernatural elements and conspiracy theories throughout the book. I’ve never once regretted picking up an issue.

Still, the character of Jonah Hex has remained an enigma. No explanation of his past has ever been offered other than the visual cues his character provides…a badly scarred body and a Confederate soldier’s uniform. ASW #0 gives the reader a series of brief yet ultimately satisfying looks into Hex’s past.

With a guy like Hex, one would expect that the character has lived through a great deal of tragedy, and one would be right. From Hex’s first day on planet Earth, he has been surrounded by bloodshed. Abandoned by his mother, beaten by his drunkard father, bartered away to a group of Apache Indians…and this is only his childhood. Hex’s life seems to be a series of moments where he is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Further, the character never seems to “click” with other people, from his family to his adoptive tribe to the CSA. This story does a fantastic job of revealing reasons why Hex insists on being the loner.

Oh, and his infamous facial scar? Yep, it’s origin is revealed here, too.

All in all, this book accomplishes what DC wanted to do with its Zero Issues, and that’s to provide the reader with background on its characters and provide a new jumping-on point. Additionally, the last few pages serve to link the origin of Hex to the ongoing arc properly, ensuring that new readers will stick with the book for issue #13.

ALL-STAR ARTWORK

Moritat’s artwork is clean, crisp, and easy to follow. Each panel reads like a storyboard for a movie, and that’s a great thing here as it makes the book feel like a good ol’ spaghetti western flick. The settings are differentiated nicely, from the antebellum Southern states to the Wild West itself. Character designs are fantastic. This issue gives a look at the many people who moved in and out of Hex’s life and they are all given their own unique looks. There are some great details on each character, from whiskey dribbling down a man’s chin to the war gear worn by the Apache tribe. Some really nice stuff here.

BOTTOM LINE: A MUST HAVE FOR WESTERN FANS, A MUST READ FOR EVERYONE ELSE

As mentioned before, All-Star Western is a book I have really come to love. So far there has not been a single issue released that I haven’t enjoyed thoroughly. Western fans must pick up this book. If you’re not a Western fan, you should still give this book a read, especially if you’re growing weary of the standard superhero fare. This book has action, tragedy, revenge and moxy to spare. All-Star Western #0 hits the target right between the eyes and earns a perfect five out of five stars.

Rating: ★★★★★

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