Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mad Jonah

Hex by Michael Fleisher and Mark Texeira is not an oft remembered series and when it is remembered, it's generally not remembered well.

In the series, cowboy bounty hunter and western comic icon Jonah Hex is pulled from 1875 and taken into a post-apocalyptic future. It sounds like a natural fit, in a comic book logic kind of way. The differences between Hex and "Mad" Max Rockatansky are pretty small. They even appear in their own variation of Shane. As noted in Welcome to paradise, Hex does in his first appearance, and Max, of course, in The Road Warrior.

With Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome released that same year, it must have seemed a natural for success. I'd frankly be interested to see what the initial sales were.

But that wasn't exactly the way Fleisher and company went with the material, and I can't help imagining that was part of the reason it didn't make it past 18 issues.

The book itself more closely resembles OMAC, a similarly intriguing science fiction comic by Jack Kirby, that only lasted eight issues (collected in Jack Kirby's OMAC).

Like any other newbie, expecting the Mad Max book, the first few issues were a little slow-going for me, although I must say those issues also carry a kind of Land of the Lost over-interest in the reasons Hex got transported back in time and how he can get back that probably would never have wholly kept my interest.

Texeira sets a nice visual tone for the book, but I can't say I missed him overmuch when he dropped out for the occasional issue early on.

I will say, and not because I promised to discuss colors more, colorist Bob LeRose dropped off for a single issue, #14, and it's a jarring loss. The colors by LeRose are garish and sharp. The colors by Shelley Eiber, while professional, and perfectly wonderful for another book, I'm sure, are drab and disappointing in comparison.

Keith Giffen replaced Texeira with issue #15 with a significantly different style. In this case, perhaps one that would've better suited the book from the beginning, at least in terms of setting it well apart from the earlier "Jonah Hex" series and more into the unsettling and dark science fiction world of monsters and satirically bent societies build around power or creating a perfect society.

Which isn't to say a damn bad thing about Texeira, who did a fine job creating a world that was somewhere in-between those two extremes, and is certainly my personal preference overall, now that I got the groove of the series.

At this point, I only wish there was more.

With the recent success of Jonah Hex, including an upcoming movie, hopefully this will at least get a respectable collected edition, so it can be re-examined by new readers.

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