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As the last bounty hunter heads into Zero Month, perhaps it’s time to reflect a little. As a decades old character there is little about Jonah Hex that hasn’t been said already. In fact of lot of that has been said by the current writers of All-Star Western, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, who previously wrote his long running solo series. One such area of Hex that that they covered was his origin, which even then had been retold quite a few times. Now they get a second crack at it within the pages of All-Star Western #0.
For something that has been redone for nearly every one of Hex’s incarnations – and never severely changed or modified – it is a testament to the writing talents of Gray and Palmiotti that they were still able to keep it a fresh and entertaining read for Zero Month. For new readers it is a great introduction to the character. It’s a straight overview, actually beginning at his birth to his receiving his trademark scar. That might seem like a lot of ground to cover, and in the hands of lesser talent it would be, but with these two things are able flow well and there is no sense of information overload. Everything is essential.
While this is all good and well for the new readers that Zero Month is aimed at, old fans might find it bordering on repetitive. It really hasn’t changed much in the decades since it was first told, but it is still as engaging in it’s tale of how the events in a person’s life could shape one into a figure like Jonah Hex. Tragic, and yet one cannot but feel compelled to read. Not to spoil anything, but there are moments of harsh schadenfreude. The story is also, perhaps with not a little whiplash, humorously connected to future events so the issue does progess the series instead of being a complete stall.Things are being set up for future plots and storylines.
The art by Moritat is as good as usual. The line work is impressive, being at times pleasantly simplistic and at other times surprisingly complex. Every time, however, it shows a great deal of depth and feeling. Like all good titles, the writing and art stay in sync, leading to some interesting panel layouts.
Overall this is a great origin story, straight to the point, never meandering or feeling bloated. Perfect for those who are attempting to understand the character and his roots. It might seem superfluous to long time fans, but even then it is still a good story on it's own and can be appreciated on those terms. Besides, when in comic form Jonah Hex has hardly ever been one to disappoint.