Review: All-Star Western #1 (Gray, Palmiotti & Moritat)
Never in a million years would I have picked up a books like this. So, right there, the New 52 has succeeded.
Have Gray, Palmiotti and Moritat?
As I am unfamiliar with the main character, Jonah Hex, the book, for me, was composed of part Deadwood, part Sherlock Holmes and part Jack The Ripper - with a backdrop of Batman.
The issue is a very well written one - one I found impressive, that takes place toward the turn of the 19th century. A series of serial murders have set the citizens of Gotham into a frenzy. Everything you expect to be found in this type of story - is. You have the murder of prostitutes with the mysterious writing on the wall, the corrupt and incapable police force, an unlikely duo paired together to solve the crime, and a flare of rich aristrocratic influence involved with a secret society (ala From Hell with Johnny Depp) that may or may not be at fault.
As the plot is strikingly familiar, Gray and Palmiotti have managed to inject a measure of allure into the mix with the unlikely teaming of Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham. As they go about investigating, and Hex does what he is best at - namely kicking all kinds of ass, Arkham does the same and psychologically profiles his new partner. This narration offers the reader a look into the man known as Jonah Hex - or maybe not, as Arkham might not have all the answers. At the same time, we are witness to Arkham's own peculiarities, as he is a sore thumb among the denizens of old Gotham. And this play off of one another makes for wonderful reading.
Fans of Batman will certainly recognize the names contained herein. Even as I am not big on the Bat, I still was able to identify the surnames of said characters. Wayne, Cobblepot, of course Arkham, and probably a few others that I missed all added to the attraction this book offers.
The price-point of being $3.99 must be touched upon, as a vast majority of the DC Relaunch are "holding the line at $2.99." While the previous 3.99'er, Men of War, had a back-up to justify the extra cost, All-Star Western simply added pages for the benefit of the story - and a benefit it was. More than a few of the New 52 seem to just "drop" at the end. My only fear is that, again similar to Men of War, the characters may not be (or may be?) as widely known, leaving some to disregard it at the newsstand - their loss, mind you.
So getting back to my question, have Gray, Palmiotti and Moritat succeeded in adding another new DC book to my already ever-growing collection? Why, yes they have. Moritat's art is the perfect compliment to the writing as it reflects the simple, yet struggling nature that All-Star Western presents. We are given a mysterious, instantly likeable and relatable anti-hero in the form of Jonah Hex coupled with the peculiar, almost humorous (at least to me) Amadeus Arkham set against a familiar surrounding. It's a little something old is new again. In short, it works.
And I'm hooked!