Friday, 8 January 2010

Blackest Night: Weird Western Tales #71 review

The cover boasts that this comic features Jonah Hex, Scalphunter, Super-Chief, Bat Lash and Firehair and yes indeedy, all are in here. But only Hex gets any real play, with the others being simply heart-hungry Black Lanterns. I have to say, though, that even as an infernal creature Bat Lash is damned dapper.

The protaganist of this book is Josh Turnbull, descendant of Hex enemy Quentin Turnbull. He's working with Metamorpho's old chum Simon Stagg on alternate energy projects and thrilled to bits when the Ray turns up with one of them thar Black Lantern rings that's been popping up all over the planet. Of course, ordinary folk can't handle the things so chaos ensues. The attack of the zombie cowboys presents the Ray with a chance to shine, though it's a shame Stagg's caveman lackey Java has vanished by this time - I'd pay good money to see him team up with the Ray.

The climax of the book shows Turnbull confronted by two Black Lanterns with a special interest in him and it's safe to say he's not likely to turn up in writer Dan DiDio's forthcoming Outsiders run, to which, I suspect, this is a prequel.

Behind an electric Bill Sienkiewicz cover, this is a nicely measured tale, with DiDio showing good control of his story; the transition to page 2 from page 1 is devilishly clever, and the title - 'And the South shall rise again' - rather brilliant. And while the occasional moment of dialogue is stilted, it's not horribly jarring. By issue's end we've had a satisfying chunk of story, well-told.

DidDio's partner in crime is Renato Arlem, whose art is all kinds of expressive and extremely attractive - quietly textured or full of fireworks as necessary. Colourist Hi-Fi Designs hits all the right mood notes and letterer Ken Lopez gets out his best Western fonts.

Continuity cops might be wondering how come Jonah Hex is here a corpse in Dixieland rather than a stuffed exhibit at Planet Krypton restaurant, but that's likely been explained in something I've missed. If not, I'll just assume he's been repatriated, or things are different on this week's version of the DC Earth. I'm happy to have been entertained with a one-off that can be appreciated without having to have read the several years of Green Lantern stories that preceded it. Sometimes Weird is good.

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