All Star Western finally lives up to it’s name and heads out west.
The first story arc had DC’s 19th Century Bounty Hunter, Jonah Hex, come to Gotham, but now he’s headed back west, but he’s not going alone. Hex is joined by Dr. Amadeus Arkham. The mild mannered Arkham was drawn into Hex’s rough and seedy world when they both get involved with missing children in Gotham, and that case now has the unlikely duo headed to New Orleans after Thurston Moody,the ringleader of a forced child labor ring.
All Star Western #7 begins with our unlikely team arriving in New Orleans searching for Moody, but instead, get drawn into local trouble. The New Orleans immigrant population, and the industries that thrive due to the great influx of cheap labor are being terrorized. Hex teams up with sometimes allies Nighthawk and Cinnamon (who just happen to be earlier incarnations of modern day DC heroes Hawkman and Hawkwoman) as the trail leads Hex to a riverboat turned gladiatorial arena in search of the anarchists responsible, the August 7, and to the beautiful but deadly Z.C. Branke.
Gray and Palmiotti use All Star Western‘s second feature to give us some backstory on Nighthawk and Cinnamon, two lesser known DC Western characters and as they have been reinterpreted several times to fit into DC’s continuity. This first chapter focuses on the early days for Hannibal Hawke and how he became the man who would go on to become known as Nighthawk.
Long time Hex scribes Gray and Palmiotti continue to find fun and interesting takes of DC’s rich history of Western characters as well as creating their own. I also like the addition of Arkham; I was not sure he’d be sticking around after Hex left Gotham. His addition as storyteller gets rid of the need for a gravelly voiced first person narration from Hex, which would come across as contrived. Hex is a man of few words, even to himself. To have him carry on an internal monologue would seem out of place.
With the introduction of Branke they continue their long history of creating strong sexy women who can kick ass. Her lethal capacity is masked by her comely appearance, but make no mistake, this woman can take care of herself. She gives a whole new meaning to stiletto heels.
Branke, and everything else in this book continues to look fantastic under the masterful artwork of Moritat (all the more enhanced by colorist Gabriel Bautista ) His fine linework is highlighted by the use of shadow and light. The sepia tones exude a rustic, ol’ West feel, beautifully contrasted with the glint of steel and fire.
All Star Western is the book that anyone who is a fan of good comics should be reading. As long as they make ‘em I know I’ll be back every month.
My score 8.5 out of 10
ALL STAR WESTERN #7
(w) Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
(a) Moritat (Lead)
(a) Peter Scherberger, Dan Green & Terry Austin (backup)
Available in print and digitally