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Jonah Hex #13
posted November 10, 2006
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jordi Bernet
DC Comics, Comic Book, 40 pages, January 2007, $2.99
The main attraction here in what's promised as "The Shocking Origin of Jonah Hex" has to be Jordi Bernet's art, and Bernet doesn't disappoint. The issue's a showcase for solid storytelling values, and an argument for the value of page design as a narrative element. Bernet makes each page a handsome one, his figures are strong and fluid, and the individual scenes are framed in handsome fashion, to the point they could be taken as stand-alone imagery. But Bernet makes his presence more greatly felt in the way he adjusts the reader's momentum through the arrangement of panels: shortening panels at the beginning and the end of the page to keep the reader turning, setting up conflicting visual patterns when he wants the reader to slow down, using same-sized panels when he wants to echo the repetition the story moment provides. It's not great art, or even great Bernet, but boy, is it solid and pleasurable.
If only the story were such a uninspired presentation of Old West cliches, from framing sequence to the extended walk down memory lane. Nothing happens that would challenge the expectations of anyone
who's ever seen a western at any time in their lives, something hampered further by the more dour, cynical presentation as opposed to a classic, mythic approach that might have made better use of all the recycled story elements. I don't know enough about mainstream comics to know if Gray and Palmiotti work a lot, but this seemed like something Robert Kanigher might have typed at lunch, or one script out of four in the modern writer's work-month. Despite the title, there's nothing shocking about this origin; the story fails to match the art or flatter the character, one of the company's few successful efforts since the beginning of the Silver Age.