After a gallivanting around the present-day DC Universe, Jonah Hex was finally able to return to his beloved 19th Century, last issue, thanks to the brief return of Booster Gold. With the stage now set, All Star Western #29 is both a new beginning and a return to form for DC’s favorite bounty hunter. With a newly repaired face and a (very) modern woman at his side, co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray turn in a self-contained story that manages to keep the overall narrative moving forward.
The issue opens with a gorgeous splash page, courtesy of Cliff Richards. In a continuation of last issue’s cliffhanger, Jonah and Gina find themselves in the middle of a gunfight which leave the latter injured courtesy of a gunshot to the leg. Richards’ art makes efficient use of the space while maintaining a high level of quality. His use of space allows the story to progress to flashback, which serves as the meat of the issue. Richards had served as a fill-in artist at times on Nightwing, and his style never quite worked as well there as it does here. This is partially due to Mike Atiyen’s colors. His color palette, consisting primarily of earth tones and shades of red, works wonderfully with the issue’s settings.
The issue’s main narrative, a flashback story told by Jonah to Gina, is equal parts history lesson and political commentary. The story itself is very simple – Jonah has a man at gunpoint which he has hunted down for a bounty, and the man* tries to talk his way out of the situation. There is a sequence later in the issue involving hallucinogens, which allow Richards and Atiyen to run wild with the art, but overall the story is rather tame in comparison to the rest of the DC Universe. The story also presents Palmiotti and Gray a chance to showcase their grasp of the character. Having written Jonah Hex for over a hundred issues (plus one original graphic novel), even the uninitiated will be able to sense that the character is written perfectly.
In that regard, All Star Western #29 is a throwback to the type of stories told in the Jonah Hex title before the New 52 launch. The issue is largely continuity free and, as mentioned previously, is a joy to look at. Readers looking to add a new title to their pull list should definitely consider this as it is in a great position for new readers to jump on. Given the sales numbers, it could use a few new readers. Those looking for a break from the regular grind of present day DC continuity should take pleasure in snarky adventures of Jonah Hex.
Note: this review was originally published on 3/27/2014 at dcinfinite.com