Jonah Hex is a western comic book anti-hero, created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga, and published by DC Comics. The right side of his face is horribly scarred, and he is normally shown wearing a Confederate States Army uniform. Hex is surly and cynical, and is in many ways similar to Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name.
Throughout the character's history, the western genre conventions have been heavily subverted. Jonah has battled alcoholism, and as an adult faced his mother's turn to prostitution. Though he traveled extensively throughout the American West, he also ended up in South America and China. At one point he quit bounty hunting, got married and had a son, and took up farming, though it wouldn't last.
Hex's facial injuries can be traced back to an incident involving an Apache chief who uses a searing-hot tomahawk to mark Hex with "The Mark of the Demon".
In 1904, Jonah is shot in cold blood during a card game (but not before he is transported into the future for the Hex series). His corpse is stolen, stuffed, mounted, and dressed in a ridiculous singing cowboy costume, then put on display in a travelling circus. The circus owner is eventually murdered and Jonah's body is stolen yet again. It would pass through various hands before finally being acquired by the restaurant "Planet Krypton", owned by Booster Gold.
Being a "non-superhero", Jonah did not have a "Rogues gallery" comparable to Batman or The Flash, though he had a few adversaries who returned from time to time. The first and most notable of these to date was Quentin Turnbull, known at first as simply the man with the eagle-topped cane.
Turnbull was the father of Hex's best friend, Jeb Turnbull. During the American Civil War, Jonah actually surrendered himself to the Union forces, but refused to betray where his fellow soldiers were camped. A Union soldier was able to determine the location of that camp by examining the dirt in the hooves of Jonah's horse. The Union soldiers captured all of Jonah's fellow soldiers and then later massacred most of them, framing Jonah as a turncoat. Turnbull's son was one of those slaughtered and Turnbull vowed his vengeance upon Jonah.
Turnbull hired an unnamed stage actor to impersonate Hex and help "destroy Hex". This actor, naming himself "The Chameleon", was eventually hideously scarred in a fire started by Hex, and vowed vengeance upon Hex.
El Papagayo was a Mexican bandit running guns. Hex was hired by the United States Secret Service (actually a man hired by Turnbull to pose as an agent) to infiltrate El Papagayo's band and bring him to justice. Hex was unsuccessful and he and Papagayo met several more times over the years.
Significant Dates in Jonah's Life
The majority of Jonah's adventures were never given actual dates, however, some significant events were given year references. The ones listed here are actually mentioned or calculated using dialogue or other references.
November 1st, 1838: Jonah is born. (JH V1, #50 & reference in #57)
June, 1848: Jonah's mother runs away with a traveling salesman. (JH V1, #57)
July, 1851: Jonah's father, a physically abusive alcoholic, sells him into slavery to the Apache in exchange for either a pile of pelts (JH V1, #7) or safe passage through Indian land (JH V2, #14). History is unclear on the exact reason.
1853: At the age of fifteen, Jonah saves the tribe's chief from a puma. The chief expresses his gratitude by adopting Jonah as his second son. Jonah eventually exceeds the chief's son, Noh-Tante, in the chief's eyes. (JH V1, #7)
1854: Jonah & Noh-Tante, in a tribal ritual of manhood, raid a nearby Kiowa village to steal ponies. Noh-Tante ambushes Jonah and leaves him to the Kiowas and tells the chief that Jonah is dead. Jonah is either 'rescued' by scalphunters who slaughter the Kiowas and shoot Jonah, leaving him for dead and a trapper finds him and nurses him back to health (JH V1, #7), or Jonah manages to defeat the Kiowas but does not return to the Apache village. (JH V2, #14) Once again, the records are conflicting.
1859: Jonah is engaged to Cassie Wainwright but she is killed by Indians the day before their wedding. (JH V1, #65)
Dec 25th, 1861: Jonah and Turnbull's son Jeb give Quentin Turnbull an eagle-topped cane. (JH V1, #55; WWT #29)
May 2nd, 1863: Jonah accidentally shoots Stonewall Jackson as the General returns from a reconnaissance, inflicting the wound which cost him his arm & precipitated his death shortly after due to sepsis.
1863: Jonah surrenders to the Union forces at Fort Charlotte. Jonah's platoon is subsequently captured and then slaughtered during an attempted escape known as the Fort Charlotte Massacre. Jonah is accused by the survivors of being a turncoat. (WWT #29)
1866: Jonah locates his old tribe and tells the chief how Noh-Tante betrayed him years before. The chief decrees that this must be settled by a tomahawk battle. Noh-Tante secretly sabotages Jonah's tomahawk so that the handle will break. In an act of desperation during the fight, Jonah pulls a knife and kills Noh-Tante. As punishment for breaking the rules, Jonah is bound and the chief presses a heated tomahawk to the right side of Jonah's face giving him "The Mark of the Demon". The tribe then banishes Jonah. (JH V1, #8)
1874: While tracking down the kidnapping of Laura Vaden, Jonah once again comes in contact with the Apache chief and is captured. The chief admits to taking Laura and announces that he will kill Hex at sunrise. Jonah is rescued by White Fawn, his former girlfriend and widow of Noh-Tante. The chief kills White Fawn and Jonah kills the chief before he rescues Laura Vaden. (JH V1, #8)
1875: Jonah marries Mei Ling and promises to give up bounty-hunting and gunfighting.
Spring, 1876: Jonah's son, Jason, is born. A month later, Mei Ling takes Jason and leaves Jonah. (JH V1, #51-53)
1904: Jonah is gunned down and killed by George Barrow. Despite some reports to the contrary, Jonah was not killed during a gunfight, nor was he shot in the back. Jonah was sitting playing cards in a local establishment. As he took off his glasses to clean them, George Barrow stormed into the establishment and shot Jonah in the chest with both barrels of a shotgun. Barrow was then confronted by the local law. Barrow dropped his weapon and surrendered but the local sheriff killed Barrow in cold blood.
Hex #1, 1985.The character first appeared in a revived series, All-Star Western (Issue #10, 1972), which would be renamed as Weird Western Tales for its twelfth issue. Jonah Hex all but dominated the new title right up until issue #38, at which point Scalphunter would take over the spotlight while Jonah moved into his very own self-titled series, Jonah Hex in 1977. The series would last for 92 issues.
Jonah Hex was cancelled during Crisis on Infinite Earths (in which Jonah also appeared along with Scalphunter and other western heroes, issue #3, 1985), but Jonah would move to a new 18-issue series titled Hex. In a bizarre turn of events, he finds that he has been transported to the 21st century and becomes somewhat of a post-apocalyptic warrior reminiscent of Mad Max. The series had mediocre success in the United States but was critically acclaimed and well received in Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Japan.
Three Jonah Hex mini-series have been published under DC's Vertigo imprint. These series, written by Joe R. Lansdale and drawn by Tim Truman fit more into the western-horror genre, as Hex interacts with Zombies ("Two-Gun Mojo" #1-5, 1993), a Cthulhoid monster ("Riders of the Worm and Such" #1-5, 1995), and spirit people ("Shadows West" #1-3, 1999).
In November 2005, DC began a new monthly Jonah Hex series written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with interior art by Luke Ross. In assorted postings on their message board, Grey and Palmiotti have stated their intent to depict various adventures from across the full length of Hex's life and career. The main artistic difference is that the series is published without the external restraints of the Comics Code which allows for harder edged stories without having to keep with the Vertigo imprint's dark fantasy themes. Famous Hex artist Tony DeZuniga has pencilled two issues of the book (#5 & #9) and may do more in the future.
There are even rumors of a Jonah Hex gekiga (a more serious Lone Wolf & Cub style manga, rather than the exaggerated cuteness that typifies current manga titles) being planned in Japan. Jonah Hex continues to appear in various DC Universe titles.
The following are publications in which Jonah Hex is the central character.
All-Star Western (#10-11; 1972)
Weird Western Tales (#12-14, #16-38; 1972-1977)
Jonah Hex (Vol. 1 #1-92; 1977-1985)
Jonah Hex Spectacular (#1; 1978/Fall)
Hex (#1-18; 1985-1987)
Secret Origins (Vol. 3 #21; 1987/12)
Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo (#1-5; 1993)
Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such (#1-5; 1995)
Jonah Hex: Shadows West (#1-3; 1999)
Jonah Hex (Vol. 2 #1-still in production; 2005-?)
Batman (#237; 1971/12)
Justice League of America (#159, 160, 198, 199; 1978-1982)
Super Star Holiday Special: DC Special Series (Vol. 4 #21; 1980/Spring)
Comic Reader (#194; 1981/09)
Crisis on Infinite Earths (#3-5; 1985/06)
DC Challenge (#2-3, #11; 1985-1986)
Swamp Thing (#46; 1986/03)
Legion Of Super-Heroes (#23; 1986/06)
Swamp Thing (#85; 1989/04)
Time Masters (#2-3; 1990)
Justice League Europe Annual (#2; 1991/01)
Books of Magic (#4; 1991/02)
Armageddon: Alien Agenda (#3; 1992/01)
Zero Hour (#0; 1994/09)
Green Lantern (#195-196; 1995)
Kingdom Come (#4; 1997)
Unlimited Access (#1; 1997)
Generation Hex (#1; 1997/06)
Jonah Hex appears in the DC Comics/Marvel Amalgam event, in which DC's heroes are syncretized with Marvel's. Jonah Hex becomes Jono Hex (Chamber), and Scalphunter becomes Skinhunter (Skin) among others.
Superboy (#54-55, #71-75; 1998-2000)
In 1998, a female character named Hex was introduced in the pages of Superboy. She first appears as a temperamental supermodel until an agent of the Agenda slices the right side of her face, at which point she started claiming to be Jonah Hex. She adopts his voice and manner of speaking, and displays his sharpshooting skills with a pistol. She has the ability to shoot "psionic bullets" from any kind of gun when in her "Jonah Hex" mode; otherwise she was powerless. It was hinted that the Agenda had either performed experiments on her or that she had been created by them; but nothing has been confirmed. She was last seen flying out of Cadmus riding atop Grokk, the Living Gargoyle.
Guns of the Dragon (#3; 1998/12)
The Kingdom (#2; 1998)
The Kents (#8, #10; 1998)
Wild Times: Deathblow (1999/08)
World's Funnest (2000)
Hawkman (#7; 2002/11)
Superman & Batman: Generations (Vol. 3 #8; 2003/10)
The Legion (#29; 2004/03)
Another Nail (#3; 2004/8)
Superman/Batman (#16; 2004/12)
Deadshot (#4; 2005/03)
Superman/Batman (#18; 2005/02)
Infinite Crisis (#6; 2006/04)
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters (#3; 2006/11)
Jonah Hex makes a cameo appearance, escorting the Navajo back to the Canyon DeChelly, after the Long Walk of the Navajo was over. It appears that Jonah is escorting the Navajo on to the Long Walk, but this was an artist error, as indicated by the author on his Forum
Showcase Presents Jonah Hex Volume 1 (written by John Albano and Michael Fleisher; art by Tony DeZuniga, Doug Wildey, José Luís Garcia-López and others; 526 pages, November 2005, ISBN 1-4012-0760-X)
Two Gun Mojo (Joe R. Lansdale, 1994, ISBN 1-56389-162-X)
Jonah Hex Volume 1: Face Full of Violence (written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti; art by Luke Ross, and Tony DeZuniga; 144 pages, Titan Books, December 2006, ISBN 1-84576-408-0, DC, September 2006, ISBN 1-4012-1095-3)
Collects #1-6 of the second Jonah Hex series.
Jonah Hex Volume 2: Guns of Vengeance (written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti; art by Luke Ross, Dylan Teague, Tony Dezuñiga, Phil Noto, David Michael Beck, Paul Gulacy, Jimmy Palmiotti, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Art Thibert; 144 pages, DC, April 2007, ISBN 1-40121-249-2)
Collects #7-12 of the second Jonah Hex series.
Jonah Hex as depicted in Batman: The Animated SeriesTalk of a live action movie has circulated since the late 1970s without much progress beyond pre-production, though it has been reported that John Albano's exit from writing for the character was the result of a dispute over payment for film rights.
He has appeared in animated form, first in Batman: The Animated Series in the episode, "Showdown" (voiced by William McKinney), where he hunted for a son of Ra's al Ghul in the 1800s. Hex's second TV animation appearance was a Justice League Unlimited episode, "The Once and Future Thing, Part 1: Weird Western Tales", this time voiced by Adam Baldwin. Jonah makes an oblique reference to his Hex time travel adventures. Judging by Hex's younger appearance here, the events in "Weird Western Tales" may have taken place before "Showdown".
The Post-Apocalyptic Hex made an appearance in a solo game module of DC Heroes titled "Hex: Escort to Hell".
The 1994 HBO TV-movie Blind Justice is claimed to have been partially inspired by the Jonah Hex comic book character. The western film follows a near-blind Civil War survivor, played by Armand Assante, as he travels across Mexico with a baby he has sworn to protect.
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