When Hex meets a dying black man, he traces the man’s killers back to a swamp. There he finds a family of inbreds who have killed the man’s baby and hold the man’s wife as a kidnap victim. Of course, Hex gets his revenge, in part by using a swamp full of crocodiles to help him.
The main things that have made this run of Jonah Hex special have been the tight plotting and the single-issue stories. This is one of the first issues that had felt as if the story construction wasn’t as tight, as if the plot was overly simplistic. There really doesn’t feel like there’s enough there for a full issue’s story, especially since the bayou setting and inbred hate-filled family seem so familiar. Instead of outwitting a plot or righting a complex wrong, Hex instead storms into the swamp as a sort of abnormally powerful spirit of vengeance, and that doesn’t fit the spirit of this comic book very well. In a way, I was frustrated because of the success that Gray and Palmiotti had had in the past: because previous issues were so tightly constructed, this one felt comparatively weak.
I was also bothered by the setting of this comic. Hex has always been shown as wandering the desert southwest, so how does he find himself in swampland? There aren’t exactly a lot of swamps in west Texas, Arizona or New Mexico. How does Hex find himself in east Texas or Louisiana in time to seek vengeance? Texas is a big state, and it would have taken Jonah a long time to make his way east. The timeline of this story doesn’t really make sense to me.
I’m generally a fan of Phil Noto’s art, but it’s an awkward fit for this comic. Hex simply looks too good in this comic; he should look much more haggard and worn down than Noto is able to draw him. There’s never really a sense that Hex is struggling to succeed, even when he’s wrestling a killer crocodile. Hex looks too heroic. Part of the thrill of the character is that he’s simply a man who has to work hard to succeed in his missions.
This has been a terrific series, and issue #9 was outstanding. Issue #10, however, might have been the weakest issue of the series so far.