The Well Drawn Emptiness of Jonah Hex
Decoding DC – Part II
Vertigo is famous for its horror titles. Its fascination with all things dark, made serious bank throughout the 90s, established it as a serious competition for the main continuity of DC. Hellblazer was the very first comic I got into. I have always felt that Vertigo is my ‘go to’ brand. I love their bleak and dark exploitation. In their exploitation there is always something that is psychologically real.
When John R. Lansdale, pioneer writer for Vertigo, turned his attention to the DC mainstay Jonah Hex he could go wild expanding what was already a good, though troubled, title and really turn it into a work of art. However, having now reached Chapter Two of Two Gun Mojo, I have to say, I am less then overwhelmed.
Perhaps, the famous Vertigo ‘exploitation’ may be getting in the way of a solid story.
Chapter Two begins right where the last chapter left off, as it should, with Slow Go Smith bleeding out on the barn straw as a zombie Wild Bill Hickok, newly revived by Doc Cross Williams’ band of freaks, slowly encroaches on him. The depth of darkness that floods the barn is oppressive and really frightening. I felt a real sense of loneliness as Slow Go slowly dies. Jonah arrives and fights the freaks off, but it’s too late for Slow Go. This death scene reuses that frank repartee of the first meeting between the two, but this time it is not as charming. I found it a little tacked on and felt like Lansdale was attempting too hard to channel the subtext filled sparse dialogue of the Spaghetti Western. His dialogue does redeem itself, slightly, when Jonah makes a snide comment about how he hates people who take a long time to die. The levity here shows how violent death, in the world of Jonah Hex, is as inevitable as getting tobacco spit on your boots.
Another inevitability in a Jonah Hex story is that he will always become the outlaw. Sure enough, hearing the gun shots during the attack on Slow Go, the town’s
people quickly come to the barn to find Jonah standing over his lifeless body. Jonah is arrested, given a trial by mail and promptly sent to hang. He’s then broken out by the squaw he defended in Chapter One and chased out of town by an angry posse led by a grotesque old lady. I just described the main action of the chapter in two sentences. This troubles me. The comic is 32 pages long. How could this measly plot fill that many pages?
I mentioned in my review of Chapter One that these issues spend alot of time developing the ‘mise en scene,’ something which I wholly approve of in a film. Yet, in a comic it is less impressive. After awhile all these environment only panels become an exercise in viewing just pictures
Comics are the marriage of images with character and action. They are a very special medium. Often very good films can be made by adopting the style and medium of a comic. The other way around leads to a flip book.
I ventured on to Youtube, because a friend of mine told me that Two-Gun Mojo had been adapted into a moving comic. This comic works far better as an animation. The gritty sequences make so much more sense with music and voice overs to move them along.
The grittiness and the lack of development really got to me here. What would be termed as modernness, really back fired. There is nothing much to this issue.
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5
Pros: Gorgeous Detailed Art, The Tranny Granny.
Cons: No character development, lack of story, unlikable caricatures everywhere.
Previous Review: Chapter 1 – Slow Go Smith (Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo Aug. 1993)
Upcoming Review: Chapter 3 “The Resurrectionist” (Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo Oct 1993)
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