All Star Western #10 (Feb-Mar 1972)

Credits for Hex story:

Title Welcome to Paradise
Story by: John Albano
Art By: Tony DeZuniga.

Jonah Hex Blazes a New Trail

Westerns had been a comic-book staple since their introduction in the 1940's, with lead characters much like those in western movies: clean-cut, tough-fighting, honest men. Some adopted masked identities, like Johnny Thunder, but most were lawmen or trail bosses who helped tame America's frontier in four-color adventures. By the 1970's, though, Westerns had taken a turn for the cynical, especially in Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly or Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, movies that reflected the turbulence of the era.

When John Albano's Jonah Hex rode into the town of Paradise, he was like nothing ever seen in a Western comic book before. The first clue that he was something different: he was a bounty hunter. The people who hired him also feared him. And some fairly obvious questions were left unanswered: Why did he wear a Confederate uniform jacket in the post-Civil War West? And how did his face come to be so hideously Scared?

All-Star Western began as a mix of reprints and new features such as Bob Kanigher and Gray Morrow's El Diablo, which never caught on with readers. As the title got under way, the entire DC line shifted from 32 to 48 pages, with select reprints joining new material. Readers of All-Star Western were treated to reprints from series such as the acclaimed but short-lived BAT LASH; the second half of his origin is presented here.

Jonah Hex rode out of the dust and into almost-instant popularity. Albano's tight script introduced all the elements that would become hallmarks of Hex's career. Tony DeZuniga, one of the first successful Philippine artists DC Comics recruited at the time, executed the art with appropriate atmosphere. By issue #18 (by which time the title had reverted to 32 pages and been renamed Weird Western Tales), Hex had the book to himself. He remained their until issue #38, when he graduated to his own title, which then ran for 92 issues.

While John Albano have Hex a rousing launch, the series went on to showcase some of the finest writing in Michael Fleisher's career. Hex remained a cursed man, with a haunted background, and while his origin was told in Weird Western Tales #29, Fleisher explored facets of it through the 1970's. Hex was an original, and his popularity remains intact. He even had a guest-starring role in an episode of The Batman Adventures on the Kids' WB!, in an episode written by horror novelist Joe R. Lansdale, who wrote several Jonah Hex miniseries for Vertigo.

Hex may be best remembered by the finality of his last story, which was a true Fleisher masterpiece. Hex, older but no less ornery, was finally, senselessly gunned down. Even then, he was denied the rest he deserved. Instead, his corpse was stuffed, mounted and displayed as a side-show amusement at the turn of the Twentieth century.
---Robert Greenbuerger, writing in the introduction to the Millennium Edition reprint of All-Star Western #10 (April 2000)