Jonah Hex #5 (2006)

Holy freaking crap. Tony DeZuñiga is back drawing Jonah Hex! Talk about a match made in heaven. DeZuñiga was one of the key artists for Jonah’s original series, way back in the 1970s and ’80s, and I’d honestly thought the dude had retired or died or just gave up comics for a higher paid career in animation or something. But here’s DeZuñiga, back drawing the adventures of the bounty hunter with the facial scars that match the scars that life has inflicted in his soul.
Man, it’s great to see DeZuñiga back. The man was born to draw Hex. With his moody, impressionistic line work and uniquely scratchy style, DeZuñiga is the ideal artist for a comic that takes place in a wintry frontier in the old west. Like the cinematography in the TV series Deadwood, DeZuniga’s art conveys the intensity and grit of life in the old west. Peoples’ lives look hard, and every day is a struggle to get by. People at that time wake up each day and fight just to get by, and sometimes that fight spills over into schemes to hijack railroads and generally make other peoples’ lives miserable.
The coolest thing is that it isn’t just some sort of nostalgia that brings DeZuñiga back to the book. His style has grown and changed in the intervening years, becoming even more gritty and intense than it was back in the day, giving Hex’s world even more of a feeling of roughness and struggle than it had when he first was drawing the book.
This is the perfect issue for DeZuñiga to draw. On Christmas Eve, Hex is caught in confrontation at a small railroad station when trying to hold a train robber from recapture by his friends. The nasty confrontation in a small building on a snowy night with only an old man, a woman, and the train robber to help him is a tremendously dramatic tableau, one that shows the intense brutality of life in that era and the toughness of Hex. As usual, Hex loses the battle, only to win in the end, with an absolutely thrilling conclusion.
I have no idea how many issues of Jonah Hex will boast the art of Tony DeZuñiga, but this one, at least is a real treat.

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