In which I talk a bit about the ends of various Jonah Hex comics, so consider that a SPOILER warning.
Following up on yesterday’s post:
Reader Ha-rel asked why ol’ Jonah Hex was dead, stuffed and mounted in the first place, and the really short answer, without trying to explain the entire story (as seen in DC Super Special #16, 1978), is that after he was killed in a tavern during a card game, his body was acquired by a traveling circus and put on display.
And the last page of that story followed Hex’s body from circus to antique shop to warehouse to standing in front of a wild west theme park in the early ’70s. And honestly, those last two panels, featuring Stuffed Hex just standing out there in the rain while a kid with toy guns play-shoots at him…that’s really one of the saddest, most pathetic scenes in comic book history:
We do get a sequel of sorts in Secret Origins #21 (Dec. ’87), which both R.D. and Dwayne — Dwayne who runs this swell Jonah Hex weblog and I hope doesn’t mind me encroaching on his territory a bit, here — pointed out contains a second case of Hex’s dead ‘n’ stuffed body taking a life. In this case, it’s more of a mysterious “who could have pulled the trigger…except the ghost of Jonah Hex, woooOOOOoooo!” thing instead of that dope triggering the guns himself as shown in yesterday’s post.
In any case, this story, which takes place presumably in the mid/late-’80s, ends with a character promising to retrieve the mounted body so that Jonah’s still-living common law wife, Tall Bird (last seen in that DC Super Special) can put it to rest properly.
More on that in a moment, but now it’s time for some CONTINUITY!
In the Secret Origins tale, Tall Bird relates that Jonah once briefly disappeared to another world:
…which, as that footnote indicates, is a reference to that great series Hex, with Jonah Hex trapped in an apocalyptic future:
Man oh man, do I love Hex. I’ve spoken about it before (and funny how there I’m coy about revealing endings, but now I’m all about the Hex spoilers), but one of the things I love most about this series is its last couple of pages in Hex #18 (Feb. 1987).
It’s the year…oh, I don’t know, 2048 or something, and Hex is recovering from injuries and just sorta killing time, toolin’ around a warehouse filled with antiques and amusement park materials. And what does he come across but…
…and thus, like the Secret Origins comic that follows, establishes that Hex does eventually get back to his rightful time. How he does so is something that’s never been revealed, far as I know, and I doubt it’ll ever be addressed, unless it turns up as a Booster Gold plot-point or something.
And going back to the ending of that Secret Origins story, the happy ending that the story seems to give us, with the impending recovery and return of Hex’s body to his wife, is undercut by what we’d read a few months prior in Hex. Tall Bird’s intention was to burn the body, apparently, but it obviously doesn’t happen if the body is still around for “Road Warrior” Hex to discover in that future warehouse. Don’t know if it was stolen, or if Tall Bird simply died of old age before she should have anything done, or what…regardless of the reason, the closure of the story is not quite so closed after all.
It’s a nice, dark twist, which only has its full impact if you’d been keeping up on your Hex comics, which clearly not many people were since the series was canceled after 18 issues.
But really, consider again that the Hex series ends with Jonah Hex face-to-face with his own stuffed and mounted corpse:
I am both appalled and amused and damn if I don’t love this comic.
Hex #1 (Sept. 1985) – cover art by Mark Texeira & Klaus Janson
Hex #18 (Feb. 1987) by Michael Fleisher, Keith Giffen & Carlos Garzon
Secret Origins #21 (Dec. 1987) by Fleisher & Gray Morrow
DC Special Series #16 (1978) by Fleisher & Russ Heath