Friday, November 18, 2011

All Star Western #1

DC Comics, 28 pages, $ 3.99

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray
Artist: Moritat
Colorist: Gabriel Bautista
Letterer: Rob Leigh

All Star Western is, pretty much, a straightforward relaunch of the Jonah Hex title that ran for 70 issues from 2006 through 2011. The routine goes like this: Jonah Hex, the horribly scarred mercenary and grim avenger of the innocent created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga for a 1971 story, rides into town, and then more Western stuff happens.

This time around, the town is the Gotham City of the 1880s, where Hex is enlisted to track down a serial killer who murders prostitutes. The hero gets a sidekick in the shape of psychiatrist Amadeus Arkham—a character introduced in Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Batman: Arkham Asylum who, in DC Universe lore, went on to create the eponymous institution for the criminally insane.

While those bits do their part of subtly rooting Jonah Hex a little more in the overall DC Universe, the book otherwise maintains its standalone nature and general tone. New artist Moritat is a rock-solid storyteller and brings a rough, appropriately gritty style to the proceedings that makes you feel right at home if you liked the book before. Gabriel Bautista’s coloring gets a little monotonous, maybe. The rust-and-dust shadow that seems to be hanging over Gotham and its inhabitants fits the mood, in principle, but Bautista lays it on a little thick.

Palmiotti and Gray stick to their guns, meanwhile. This opening arc is basically a trashier, Western version of From Hell, and as such, the script does the routine well.

The creators turn in a solid, competently made comic here. There’s not much in the way of depth or originality, but All Star Western connects the genre dots, if that floats your boat.

Grade: C

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