June 22, 2010

Getting Graphic: Jonah Hex: Face Full of Violence by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti

Title: Jonah Hex: Face Full of Violence
Authors: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Illustrators: Luke Ross and Tony Dezuniga
Published: DC Comics (2006)
ISBN: 1-4012-1095-3
ISBN 13: 978-1-1-4012-1095-3

I was excited about the prospect of a Jonah Hex movie when I heard it was finally being made last year. Then I read Megan Fox had been signed to the cast. My expectations diminished. And judging by the reception the movie got at the box office, it appears unfortunately my instincts were right.

But, hey, there are still the comic books, right?

I put a search on through my library--my only source for graphic novels around these parts--for a Jonah Hex title and saw this one. Glad I did too, because the collection of stand-alone tales within its pages were a nice treat. The nameless gunslinger motif is taken to a very grizzly place as Jonah Hex is shown as a remorseless bounty hunter with a notoriety that instills fear and anger among the folks he meets. There was nothing in the way of the supernatural though, and I could have sworn that Hex's origins and motivations dealt with a supernatural element. A misconception on my part, I guess.

Much of the artwork feels akin to the time its presenting, as if many of the panels are painted portraits of a violent period of the wild west. There are, however, a couple of stories that show a much rougher style that carries a darker mood than the--shall I say--cleaner art of the other stories. Tony Dezuniga and Luke Ross did a heckuba job, there.

Revenge is one of the two more popular themes through each of the stories in this book's pages--death being the other. Where "The Dog Fighters" shows Hex's task of rescuing a boy from his captors, there's no promise of a storybook happy ending. Fans of "Gunsmoke" and John Wayne movies may be taken aback at the harshness of not just the villains, but Hex and his methods. Then are stories that actually carry a certain amount of charm like "Chako Must Die." Humor exists in this book, but it may be of a more cynical variety.

Getting back to the film adaptation, I'm not sure whose call it was to cast Josh Brolin as the title character, but there are a couple of key scenes in this book that show a remarkable visage of Brolin as Hex. Granted, there are other stories in the book that give Hex a Jack Pallance and Clint Eastwood appearance.

If I have a negative thing to say about this book, it's only that there is very little by way of exploration into the history of Jonah Hex. Maybe all of that was established in the first volume of graphic novels, as this book is the first of the second volume to my understanding. He's a great character to read about, but I would've like to learn more about him beyond the fists-and-fury portrayal given here.

I'll be keeping an eye out for more of the Jonah Hex novels down the line, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for the movie when it comes out on DVD. Maybe a director's cut will give me something to root for.

2 comments:

  1. Just saw the movie yesterday. It was about what I expected, which is to say a standard adaptation with a familiar story.

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  2. I read a review of the movie this week, written by Nick Mamatas on Sci-Fi Wire I think, which just ripped the movie to shreds. It's a shame too, as I was hoping it would wind up on the other end of the comic book adaptation rainbow.

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