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26 of 52: All Star Western #1

by on October 4, 2011

It’s mostly about branching out. It’s nice to purchase a title every once in a while that isn’t exactly in your wheelhouse. And westerns, they definitely aren’t in my wheelhouse. I mean, I like Western stories just fine, but there are few characters, especially in the DCnU western genre, who pique my interest.

But this got some nice twitter and internet buzz, so I figured what the hell. So let’s see how Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti handle 19th Century Gotham City in All Star Western.

All Star Western #1
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray| Artitst: Moritat

There are two major characters in this title.

  • Jonah Hex is a rather classic western hero from the DC Universe. A Confederate soldier turned bounty hunter, most known for the giant scarred face he sports rather proudly. Jonah Hex actually debuted in the original All Star Western in the 1970.
  • Amadeus Arkham is more known, at least by me, from his appearance in the Arhkham Asylum video game, where he is the original founder of the asylum that is so known throughout Gotham City.

These two are pushed together as a late Western investigation duo, similar to Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

Synopsis:

  • Someone is murdering prostitutes in Gotham City. He has been dubbed the Gotham Butcher. Detective Lofton has invited local physician, Amadeus Arkham, and bounty hunter, Jonah Hex, to help with the investigation.
  • Amadeus and Jonah decide to work together to try to help the Gotham City Police Department, but are not to be public figures of the investigation.
  • Jonah talks to a prostitute, Belle, who gives them some clues into the identity of the Butcher, including that he wore a ring with a skull on it. But Belle is murdered with the words “Jonah Hex Leave Gotham” written in her blood.
  • As Jonah and Arkham go through the city trying to find out information, they theorize that there are two people acting as the Butcher. One of wealth and intelligence, the other with great strength.
  • Jonah and Arkham attend the Mayor’s charity event, thinking the killer is there. They find that many of the wealthy and architects of Gotham all belong to a society that wears these rings.

Analysis

The sense of the industrial revolution being confronted by the style, mannerisms, and dress code of the West is in full effect here. It works quite effectively, and much kudos to Moritat and the inking team for pulling it off.

I’m not sure I like both Amadeus and Jonah Hex both being pariahs in Gotham City. Somehow having someone who is more accepted would be better, I think.

Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham feel forced as a partnership. They work well together, but it is surprising at the end that Jonah thinks of Arkham as a partner, when nothing in the story brings that sense together.

The introduction of Jonah Hex through the eyes of Amadeus Arkham is inspired. I know some about Jonah Hex, and I learned even more through this title. Well done.

Amadeus Arkham is given a very Ichabod Crane look about him. It is a little too cartoony, but the look on his face when he talks about getting in people’s minds is great. The drawing of Belle, the Prostitute, was almost comically silly though.

Most fascinating is the view of Gotham City from the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. The corruption that already exists, and the underlying tone of the city, give it some real distinction. I hope it continues.

The character of Amadeus Arkham is a good choice, especially when he was such a strong presence in the Arkham Asylum video game (and potentially the Arkham City game).

Not sure how I feel about the obvious Psycho allusions when

Great Gotham City shoutouts to Mayor Cobblepot, Alan Wayne, the Gate Brothers, Pinckney; Makes Gotham seem like an erudite old family city.

Rating

The mood and the stage are set very nicely. However, the tale is very cliché. The wealthy elite are both architects of a town while underneath supporting crime and savagery. Hex and Arkham operating as high society and low society investigators. It is done well, but very clichéd. But was good enough, especially as I’m not a huge fan of the genre.

B-

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From → Comic Books, DCnU

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