Jonah Hex, after a brief stint in the present day, is back in his own time. There’s a lot for the gunslinger to deal with now that his recently-repaired face makes him unrecognizable to former friends! How can our formerly-scarred ex-CSA soldier solve his problems? With gun play of course! Meanwhile, this issue sees the return of back-up stories as we get a taste of Madame .44! Let’s saddle up for All-Star Western #30!
Alone, but back in his own time, Jonah Hex addresses last issue’s death before finding a new town to call home. Before long, he reunites with Tallulah Black, his old lover and partner in bounty hunting. The two face some misunderstandings as Hex tries to indicate who he is, but eventually the two reconcile. Just as Tallulah gets ready to tell Hex about a new potential mission, the group is faced with a cadre of foes!
Meanwhile, in our back-up story, we’re introduced to Madame .44, one of the best gunslingers West of the Mississippi! After her father uncovers a vein of gold and silver ore, everything starts to slip away for our heroine when faced with the betrayal of a close friend. If that wasn’t enough, she’s thrust into a world of demons and monsters! Can she survive and escape this hellscape?
Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray kick off a new arc in style after bringing Jonah back to the Old West. The story is fairly standard, a decent set-up for what’s to come, but honestly there’s nothing of real note either positively or negatively in Jonah’s story. All in all, it feels rather short, especially since it’s compressed into twelve pages. Looking back, I also feel that killing off Gina Green so quickly was a missed opportunity to watch her interact with Tallulah.
Luckily, the backup redeems the fairly lackluster initial offering. I really missed the backups after DC reduced this title’s page count, and I’m glad to see them return since they help flesh out lesser known characters from the publisher’s Western stable. I still feel, however, that with only 22 pages in the comic, the backups may not be the best idea as they detract from the overall story. It’s a hard balance to strike, but for this $3.99 comic I really wish we’d have a return to the original offering of a 20 page main story and an 8 page backup.
Staz Johnson handles the artwork for the comic’s main story and does a superb job. While I miss Moritat, Johnson’s gritty style is similar enough to maintain the previous tone. His work on classic period settings and clothing is great, especially his interpretation of Tallulah Black. Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez takes point as artist for the backup. Like Johnson, Garcia-Lopez has a gritty style that befits Western tales. His panel placement is pretty cool overall, and he makes use of some awesome techniques such as using the silhouette of a character’s bowed head to act as a panel for a weeping man. Colorist Mike Atiyeh and letter Carlos M. Mangual continue to do stellar work as well, enhancing a strong artist framework worthy of this series’ legacy.
All-Star Western #30 is a good comic, though not up to the usual standard of the series in terms of story It’s not a weak story, but neither is it at once as intriguing or interesting as the beginning of previous arcs. Nevertheless, the art is quite good, and I feel this issue was a necessary bridge for this new arc. I think the page length limitation is probably much of the problem, and I can’t blame Palmiotti and Gray for doing the best with the page count they were given. I’ve got high hopes for the team, as they’ve not let me down yet. If you’re looking to start reading this series, this is a solid starting point.
-the return of backup stories!
-good jumping-on point for new readers
-main story was rather brief and uneventful
-killing off Gina resulted in missed opportunities story-wise
Brett Simon is a twenty-four year old comic enthusiast. He’s considering taking up prospecting.
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