Jonah Hex #33: The Silent Observer
I like the self-contained nature of Jonah Hex. There isn’t a lot I have to know in the way of backstory, and I feel more comfortable reviewing an individual issue rather than just the first part of an arc. So I walked into issue 33 more or less as a blank slate — which is, as we’ll see, actually an advantage in this particular story…
“The Hunting Trip” is narrated by a mute boy whom Hex saves from a pack of wolves. Through his silent observations we are painted a picture of this western anti-hero that is harsh, unsparing, and ambivalent.
The boy remarks,
“To paint an accurate image of who Jonah Hex was and how he lived would be a disservice to him…”
And to add the frosting of the typical superhero treatment to Hex would be a disservice to the reader as well — though what we are left with at the end of the comic is unsettling, and begs more questions that there might be answers for.
The scripting by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray reads a bit more like prose than run-of-the-mill comic book captions, as if they were yearning to craft something more along the lines of Jack London or John Steinbeck. However, they know just when to pull back and let guest-artist Darwyn Cooke shine, resulting in stunning, nearly silent panels.
You can’t help but think when reading a comic like Jonah Hex #33 that the issue was crafted consciously or unconsciously with an Eisner nomination for best single issue in mind. Sort of not fair to the the other monthlies on the stands, but in order to even the score you would need to clone up some more Cookes.