Friday, December 7, 2007

1970's "Western Week Part V" Flashback: Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex made his debut in All-Star Western # 10 (Feb/Mar. 1971) published by DC Comics. He was created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga. The right side of his face is horribly & distinctly scarred. Hex was an officer for the Confederacy during the Civil War, fought at Gettysburg and is normally shown wearing a tattered Confederate States Army jacket. He is depicted as being surly and cynical

Many standard western genre conventions have been heavily subverted during his publication history. Jonah Hex has battled alcoholism, and as an adult faced his mother's turn to prostitution. Though he has traveled extensively throughout the American West, he also ended up in South America and China. Hex eventually quit bounty hunting, married and had a son, and took up farming, though it wouldn't last.

Hex's facial injuries can be traced back to being sold into slavery by his own father to the Apache for safe passage. Jonah eventually saves the chief from being killed by a mountain lion and is made an honorary member of the tribe. He is soon betrayed by the chiefs envious son while on a raid. Hex returned years later to challenge him in a sacred tomahawk battle. But the chief's son sabotaged Jonah's tomahawk and Jonah then used his knife in self defense when the tomahawk broke.The tribe saw this as breaking the rules of the sacred battle and sentenced Jonah to wear the mark of the demon by pressing a searing hot tomahawk to his face. They said his honorary relationship to the chief is the only thing that saved him from death.

In 1904, Jonah was shot in cold blood during a card game (but not before he was transported into the future for the 1985 post-Crisis on Infinite Earths-apocalyptic Hex series). His corpse was then stolen, stuffed, mounted, and dressed in a ridiculous singing cowboy costume, and put on display in a traveling circus. The circus owner was eventually murdered and Jonah's body was stolen yet again. It is currently on display in a “Planet Krypton”-themed restaurant owned by Justice League member, Booster Gold.

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