Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Comic Book Review: Weird Western Tales #71

Book Information
Written by Dan Didio
Art by Renato Arlem

Not even the wild wild west (queue Will Smith) is safe from the oncoming Black Lantern takeover of the world.  A barrage of gun slinging favorites are risen from the grave, including Bat Lash, Super-chief, and of course, Jonah Hex.  Josh Turnbull, who is overseeing an energy project designed to decipher the source of the Black Lantern’s power in an attempt to defeat them, faces his father’s old nemesis, Black Lantern Jonah Hex!  Will the west survive, or will the zombie cowboys and Indians take over to tell tale of how the west was lost?

My Thoughts
As bad of an Executive Editor that Dan Didio is, he certainly makes up for it in his writing style!  We don’t get a lot of opportunities to read Didio’s stuff, but when he has the chance, Didio sure delivers.  The flow from page one to two is outstandingly clever.  Page one presents that classic, Hollywood style old west town, while the transition to page two, with Turnbull answering his cell phone, showing readers we are currently in the present.  It’s a very clever way to distinguish nostalgia and the present.

Speaking of stories that live in the past, while taking residency in the present, but occupying the future, this issue is full of that futuristic western mentality; reeks of inspiration from Buck Rogers and Firefly.  I’ve never been a fan of stories involving cowboys and Indians, even sci-fi related ones, but this was definitely my cup of tea.  When I heard a Jonah Hex film was in the works, I sighed in disappointment.  However, this issue has peaked my interest in Mr. Hex and his story.  I might have to revisit some of my past claims at the stupidity of comic book based in the west.

One thing I do take a little issue with in this resurrected title is the false advertising presented on the front cover.  It states in that popular Black Lantern Oath, “Jonah Hex, Scalphunter, Super-Chief, Firehair, Bat lash….RISE!”  However, as the book progresses, the only time given to any of the said western heroes is Jonah Hex, and even he only receives the spotlight for five pages.  This is not necessarily a bad thing about the book, only a minor distraction.

Who the heck is Renato Arlem, how long has he been in the comic industry and why haven’t I gotten a glimpse of his work more often?  He blew me away with his static, somewhat fuzzy artistic style.  I would typically be turned off by this, but Arlem sure grabbed my attention with his knack for detail.  DC, a word of advice, hire this man more often!!  On that note, the cover art is fantastic!  Bill Sienkiewicz did a number on this gem.  I’m slightly tempted to put this on my nomination list for best cover of 2010!  It’s a long time to go before the end of the year, yeah I know, but it’s still damn good!

Nothing too innovative or new came out in this issue, it was merely a fun western tale told in the classic way, while still keeping time in the present.  There was a nice twist at the end seeing as the bad guys won!  I’m typically a guy who prefers a “not so typical” type of storytelling, but Dan Didio just showed me that it’s nice to go back and relive what once was.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

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