The Atheism of Jonah Hex

Decoding DC – Part IV

By: Julian Munds

2gun 4 cover-1Story I Read: Chapter 4 “Vendetta Times Two” (Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo #4 NOV. 93)

The Wild West was by all accounts an extraordinarily lonely place. Joining together with a rag tag group of like minded cowpokes or roustabouts might seem the best answer in order to stave off the brutality of the dust wasteland.

Think again.

The Wild West presented here, in Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo, is a place where groups are punished and individuals are rewarded. This world rewards individualism and Jonah Hex is the ultimate individualist.

Up to this point in Two Gun Mojo, every person that has put their trust in or depended upon another individual has been either punished or has ended up dead. First, Slow Go Smith, who saved Jonah Hex and rode with him for a time, ends up shot for no reason beyond sleeping in a barn, and then the Squaw, who saved Jonah from the hangman’s noose.

Wait… they both save him from a noose at separate times.

There is something there.

I should look at that later.

Putting your trust in something outside of yourself is somehow wrong. Jonah Hex never relies on anyone. He is not selfish by any means for he often mentions his debts that he has to others. After he borrows a stud from the pioneer father and son in this chapter, he promises to return it to them. Funnily enough, that horse ends up dying after being shot from under him. An “A” for effort, though.

I am not claiming that Lansdale is saying a character needs to be selfish to survive in the West. The individualism here is not one that promotes sociopathology. It is one that promotes atheism and skepticism.


Goodbye, American readers!

I brought up the dreaded A word. LOL

If you except the “goings on” of most Vertigo comics and their supernatural leanings then, clearly, you have no problem with blasphemy. You must be, at least, leaning toward Agnosticism.

Let’s take a look at how religion functions in this chapter.

The closest we get to an example of a spiritual leaning in this issue is Doc Cross Williams. He believes

Doc Cross' freaks. Looks like a who's who of Halloween costumes.

Doc Cross’ freaks. Looks like a who’s who of Halloween costumes.

in some sort of voodoo mythos that allows him to, among other things, reanimate Wild Bill Hickock’s corpse. Doc Cross’ wide powers may be ill gotten but he uses them to lord over the most vulnerable of people: his circus freaks. Through this domination, of the social and spiritual sense, he stunts them as permanent outcasts.

“But wait a minute,” you are probably saying, “if Doc Cross actually has powers, doesn’t that prove his other worldly ness and therefore the existence of the supernatural?”

Well, no, my pushy friend.

Doc Cross’ powers are from corrupted stories from a different religion. His bastardized voodoo comes from Haitians whose beliefs are a distortion of Christianity and tribal legends…. which are distortions of other myths and so on and so on through history. Jonah Hex, who immediately sees through his magic ploys, vomits up the elixir that is administered to suppress his individualism. Hex doesn’t allow the power of this man to take him over. He refuses to submit to the will of someone else.

The zombies that are present in this story are not infected undead but beings that have been forced to follow the will of someone else. They are the fully committed follower and because Jonah Hex is the consummate individual who shares nothing about himself, not even how he got the horrible disfiguration on his face, he survives.

The Homesteaders in the story are also examples of the virtue of critical thought. A certain degree of independence is a prerequisite for the Homesteader.

The pioneers are  conscious the whole time of who they are nursing back to health yet still help him. Now, this could possibly be because of a political motivation, both the Pioneer and Jonah served at Gettysburg, but I read it as a choice to not follow the established knowledge of is and who isn’t an outlaw. Individualism at work again.

The word outlaw means “one who exists outside of the established laws.” Notice the word “one.” Jonah Hex is important because he espouses the need to always be one’s own person.

Individualism is Jonah Hex’s superpower.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

Pros: The Art, the marvelous character construction of Doc Cross’ freak bandits.

Cons: The tacked on obstacles that seem like page filler. I still think the story is extremely loose and meandering.

Preceding Review: Chapter 3 “The Resurrectionist” (Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo Oct 1993)

Upcoming Review: Chapter 5 “Showdown” (Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo Dec 1993)


About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on December 6, 2013, in DC, Jonah Hex and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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