Lansdale, Timothy Truman and Jonah Hex
Right now you likely know JONAH HEX as a very bad movie, currently classified as the biggest bomb of 2010, and that’s a shame. What you should know HEX for are the three comic miniseries--or at least the first two of them--published by Vertigo in the 1990s, written by Joe R. Lansdale and illustrated by Timothy Truman, with inks by Sam Glanzman.
Jonah Hex, a gruff gunslinger with a nasty scar on the left side of his face, has a varied history. He first appeared in DC Comics’ WEIRD WESTERN TALES in the early seventies, and become the star of his own self-titled western series in 1977. JONAH HEX ended in 1985, giving way to a short-lived series entitled HEX, which saw Jonah transported forward in time to a post-apocalyptic future. His next appearance was in the three nineties-era miniseries under review, after which JONAH HEX was resurrected once again as a monthly series in 2005, leading to the dire ‘10 film version.
I’ve never been able to work up much interest in Hex’s exploits before or after the Lansdale/Truman years, but in their hands he’s pure magic. Joe Lansdale, as anyone who’s read his novels DEAD IN THE WEST or THE MAGIC WAGON well knows, is the hands-down master of the Weird Western, and in his HEX scripts he offers a full blast of gritty violence and creepy crawly fun.
JONAH HEX: TWO-GUN MOJO, from 1993 (and
a trade paperback in ‘94), was the first of the Lansdale-Truman JONAH
HEX minis, and it’s a doozy. I don’t know a lot about the Jonah Hex that
came before, but his new and improved Hex is a unique and compelling
personage, a trash-talking tough guy with a sarcastic streak a mile wide
(a running joke has Hex telling people how he got his scar: “I cut
myself shaving,” “I bit the side of my mouth,” “My mother kissed me too
1995’s JONAH HEX: RIDERS OF THE WORM AND
SUCH was Lansdale and Truman’s second 5-issue HEX saga. Taking its
cue from Robert E. Howard’s 1932 story “Worms of the Earth,” Lansdale’s
narrative concerns a race of age-old mutants living under the Earth.
Jonah Hex chances upon evidence of the worms’ dominion in the form of
and along the way falls in with a dude who runs Wilde’s West, an
artists’ retreat inspired by a meeting with none other than Oscar Wilde.
But Wilde’s West is located directly over the worms’ underground
headquarters, and said worms are looking to expand their menu from
animals to humans! There’s also a romance, with Jonah falling for a
full-figured woman who’s good with a gun.
Lansdale and Truman reteamed, unfortunately
enough, for JONAH HEX: SHADOWS WEST in 1999, their final (to
date) Hex saga. If nothing else, it’ll make you realize just how fine
the preceding installments are, as SHADOWS WEST is considerably less
auspicious in every department.