The Dirty Sex of Jonah Hex
Decoding DC – Part 9
Extremites, sex is a fun thing.
It is also a tough topic to talk about. There’s all sorts of reasons for this. From its political and religious importance— and sometimes derision — to its dark side: rape and exploitation. From a literary perspective, sex is a massive subject to cover.
Up until this issue, in Jonah Hex, sex has been mentioned only through derogatory comments and aspersions. It’s always present but never depicted.
According to American rating systems, sex is more offensive than extreme violence. Despite the possible ratings implications however; Joe R. Lansdale, Sam Glanzman and Tim Truman have seen fit to have Jonah Hex involved in a sexual encounter. This encounter is a wonderful and detailed scene.
In one of my past reviews, I mentioned a women named Brunnhilde that is a member of the Graves culture tribe. I mentioned her poor creation. I stick by that, but I want you to note that my opinion has eased somewhat. It’s clear that she is very important.
In the misogynistic and brutal world of Jonah Hex, women are out of place. In Joe R. Lansdale’s comment that he left on Decoding DC Part 7 he mentioned how he, and the other creatives, were parodying the brutality of the world. That is clear. We can agree on that.
In this brutal world it is important that the transgressors are male. The few female characters are either angry murderous grotesque monsters, that evoke memories of debased freaks in Victorian gothic, or they are the few, what I’ll call, ‘untouched’ women who serve as beacons of a better and brighter world.
Hildy is short, stocky, and looks like Monica Lewinsky. In some other comic she might be relegated to the sidelines, but here she figures as Jonah’s main love interest.
Hildy breaks the mould of traditional female secondary characters. She is smart, of the world, and adept at gunplay. She, however, does become the mould when she, without much provocation, falls into the arms of Hex.
Sex is not an act of love in Jonah’s world. It is an act of release. This viewpoint is solidified in the words of Jonah’s friend: The Kid, as the couple goes off into the moonlight together: “Well, reckon, I’ll go and choke my weasel and make it spit.” Even the Kid needs release.
This simplification of sex is further reiterated, in a far more foul form, by the Autumn Brothers. The brothers are the product of unholy union between the Cthluloid worms (my name for them, not Lansdale’s) and a poor farmer’s wife, making them part worm and part human. The Brothers speak in a monosyllabic and stunted way. They look like a steampunk nightmare and smell of a hillbilly fantasy. When the Brothers venture into the worm underworld, at the behest of the Great Worm: the leader of the race, their stomachs open up and green tentacles rise out to become a mass of slimy awful.
The Autumn Brothers are introduced peeping on Jonah and Hildy having sex in the graveyard.
While marvelling and cracking terrible jokes— which are very right for these two to be cracking — they reminisce about a favourite pig of theirs. This pig is no longer alive because they both had sex with the poor beast and the thing had to be put out of its misery.
While Jonah is having moonlight sex with Hildy, the Autumn Brothers are having a simultaneous discussion of beastiality.
I love this juxtaposition. It is just so twisted.
I must applaud Lansdale and Tim Truman for their fearlessness in treating sex in such a base and human way. It is refreshing and authentic.
What can be said about the sex of Jonah Hex?
It is depraved, without pleasure, without love.
It is just plain dirty.
Just plain dirty like the world it exists in.
Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds.
Story I Read: “Chapter 4: Autumns of Our Discontent” (Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such #4, June 1995)
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Pros: Twisted writing, gripping tension filled ending, neat detail in Truman and Glanzman’s rendering of the worm underworld.
Cons: Slightly sexist writing. (But could be just in the interest of the genre.)
Previous Issue: “Chapter 3: Big Worm” (Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such #3, May 1995)
Upcoming Issue: “Chapter 5: Cataclysm in Worm Town” (Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such #4, June 1995)