It’s time for another “zero issue” ‘before New 52’ origin story. This time around, it’s the backstory of everyones favorite gun-slinging, no-nonsense bounty hunter… Jonah Hex!
Be warned. If you don’t already know the history of Jonah Hex, there will be SPOILERS!
The story opens on the Hex farmstead where Mrs. Hex is lying abed, pregnant with little Jonah. A crew of men claiming to be empowered by the local sheriff arrive in search of some fugitive mormons. When Mr. Hex denies the men entrance to his home, they attack and get a sampling of the Hex brand of justice. The end result is a lot of dead men and some begging. Mr. Hex swears that he’ll teach his son how to deal with men like this.
Cut to a few years later. Jonah is around 8 or so. His father’s farm has gone downhill and the Hex family is hurting for money. In these trying time, Mr. Hex has turned to the bottle and become an abusive husband and father. As much as young Jonah tries to defend his mother from his father, the lady finally has enough and runs away…. leaving Jonah in the custody of his drunkard of a father.
Later, Mr. Hex and Jonah are traveling across indian territory when they are beset. In exchange for his freedom, Mr. Hex gives his son to the natives as a slave. Hex grows up with the Apache, eventually coming to be treated as a genuine member of the tribe. Still, one member of the tribe, Noh-Tante, sees Hex as an outsider and does his best to make the lad’s life a living Hell. Eventually on a raid, Noh-Tante betrays Hex and leaves him for dead.
Hex lives. He joins the Confederate Army during the American Civil War where he puts his fighting skills to good use. During the war, he endures even more hardships and gains the first of his trademark facial scars. Eventually, when the war is over, Hex makes his way back to the Apache to bring Noh-Tante to justice. Things go awry and Hex is scarred even further… but not before Noh-Tante gets some Hex brand hurt laid on him.
As the story wraps, we’re clued in that Hex was drunk and telling his life story to Amadeus Arkham, Tallulah Black, and Dr. Jekyll’s emissary. On the note of Jekyll, the last couple of pages set up the coming story as Jekyll’s serum is stolen and modified. That can’t be a good thing!
When I heard that ‘All-Star Western’ #0 was to be a retelling of Hex’s origin, I’d wondered what new direction Gray and Palmiotti were going to take the story. Like ‘The Flash’ #0, there isn’t anything here that has been told before. But, also like that Flash story, this one is told is such a beautiful way that it’s hard to fault it. If they’d veered too far from Hex’s origins, I’m sure many fans, myself included, would’ve been upset. Still, even though they played it safe, it was a rousing fun story and well worth the price of admission. Now I’m dying to see how weird this western can get with Jekyll’s serum being released to the streets of Gotham.
ALL-STAR WESTERN #0
Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Moritat
Cover by Ariel Olivetti