Transmission date : Oct 8 2012
Everyone has an era of comics that they consider to be “Their” generation of comics. Mine would be the 1980s. As a comic fan I collected my favorite titles like, GI Joe, Batman, The Amazing Spiderman, Star Wars, to name a few. One day in 1985 I would walk into my favorite comic book store which was actually a Pharmacy underneath a Doctors office called Budget Drug Mart. Every trip would no doubt cost my parents at least 10 dollars to feed my comic book habit. This one day I stumbled upon a title that would be one of my favorite childhood books...”Hex”.
In my comic book shelf in my room I had scored several issues of the Jonah Hex title which told the story of a horribly scarred gun for hire in the old west Jonah Hex. I always assumed the story of Jonah Hex’s death was not one that would ever been seen again. Sort of an Elseworld/What If sort of thing. The 80s Hex mini series would play heavily on this issue and at this time it was the actual cannon death of Hex. Jonah had been killed in a DC Jonah Hex Spectacular in fall of 1978 In a story called “The Last Bounty Hunter” in which Jonahs last bounty was taking down The George Barrow Gang. He would not manage to get the leader of the group himself George Barrow who would hunt down Jonah and would fatefully meet him at a card game in a saloon. As it would play out Jonahs reflex’s and eyesight were failing and Hex lets his guard down to clean his glasses only to be shot dead out of the blue by a vengeful Barrow! Jonah would be pronounced dead at the age of 66.
Not only was Jonah NOT dead but something Supernatural and a twist of fate in the time/space continuum would allow him another chance, After Jonahs death his corpse was stolen by an entrepreneur named Lew Farnham and he was taxidermied and used as a traveling museum attraction! However was Hex actually dead or was there something supernatural afoot with Jonahs soul?
Its never a good idea to put a gun in the hand of Hex if you are his enemy whether Jonah Hex is considered alive or even dead!
This would be Hex’s final resting place however would be WestWorld Amusement park as a display..would this be the last we see of the Last Bounty Hunter?
Thankfully the answer was no.after the cancellation of Jonah Hexs regular title teasers began to circulate as to the future of Jonah. Images of a futuristic Jonah Hex were published and these are the two rare teasers that would give the world the first look at the new “HEX” book!
As well as this carefully hidden teaser panel rarely seen today..
Jonah never died, he awoke in the 21 Century in a post apocalyptic world with no concept of what he was or how he had gotten there. This was Jonah Hex meets Mad Max and it was fun.
“In 1875, Hex was apparently teleported to the Seattle area of the year 2050 A.D. by Reinhold Borsten, a power-hungry scientist. Borsten Had teleported many warriors from the past to his own time, apparently to battle each other for his own amusement. Borsten constructed his time-transporter in 2041, used it to send a man to 2045, and learned on his return that a nuclear holocaust would occur in 2045. Taking scientific records with him, Borsten teleported himself to a point after the holocaust, planning to rule the people who remained. But he found instead that society was now dominated by a criminal alliance called the Conglomerate, which controls “soames,” a chemical means of decontaminating irradiated water. Hex escaped from Borsten and is now trying to survive in this devastated environment. It is not yet known how much of the world was ravaged by the holocaust, nor is it known whether Hex’s 2050 occurs “before” or “after” all but one alternative future are “eliminated” in the so-called crisis on infinite earths.” Source DC Whos Who”
Hex would be joined by a cast of characters like “The Dogs Of War”…
..and his sidekick Stiletta.
My favorite of all the cast of characters at the time would be “Batman”. No not Bruce Wayne but his 21 Century counterpart, The story goes that this new Batman, last name Cohen (First name never actually mentioned in the book itself) was the son of two top level disarmament arms negotiators with the government who were like Bruce Wayne, were gunned down before their own child.
It would be the new Batman’s mission in life to further his parents dream of a “No gun” society. During his University education he did years of work studying the history of The Batman. As part of his research he goes to an abandoned Wayne Manor and accidentally discovers the Batcave and all the secrets hidden by Bruce Wayne. While investigating the cave the world outside is pushed into a Nuclear catastrophe and Mr. Cohen’s life is spared only due to the fact he is protected by the technology and infrastructure of the Batcave. When he resurfaces he sees a society where weapons have caused widespread panic. Batman creates himself a suit to fit the times (A cross between the old/Flashpoint Thomas Wayne Batman and Nightwing), builds a Batwing very much like the one in the Batman animated series and becomes a one man crime stopper. Oh by the way this Batman does not use a Cave..this guy actually has a secret base of operations inside the torch of the Statue of Liberty!!
Issues 11 and 12 of Hex tells the tale of Hex being tricked into putting a hit out on Batman only to discover that he is hunting down the wrong man and then forms a quick team just in time to stop an army of giant well armed Robots trouncing New York city.
In an ending very similar to this summers The Dark Knight Rises, Batman saves the day using the Batwing of which like in the movie, has options disarmed that leave him in a no way out situation..this time the Batwing weapons have all be disabled and Batman must sacrifice himself to stop the robots, save New York City, and plunge to his supposed death in the harbor surrounding New York City.
I loved these two issues as a kid and they were well read and worn out looking at them today. I since have perfect digital copies of all 18 issues of Hex which was abruptly cancelled after low sales in North America and a brutal change in the creative team. Mark Texeira masterfully penciled the first 14 issues of this book only to be replaced by the artistic styling of Keith Giffen in its final issues. I recall in the final letters page at the end of issue 18 a fan writes about the terrible art work that Giffen brought to the book that said “Get Keith Giffen the hell away from Hex” The art dramatically changed and was almost shocking as Giffen’s unrealistic dark dreary approach to art at the time did not go over well with fans, including me. I hated Giffen for this for so long as a kid that he was actually on the top of my worst artists list for many years. I since have gained a huge appreciation for his style but at this time I was a Giffen hater.
The HEX series would end after declining sales and the aforementioned change in creative team at issue 18. The issue titled “Thanksgiving” showed Hex come face to face with his inevitable fate. Hex discovers his own stuffed taxidermied corpse in the wreckage of West World amusements years in the future. It was never clear how Hex returned to his own time or what the fate of his futuristic cast was but it is one that I hope will one day be revisited! Here’s to hoping! The only note from DC comics that HEX returned to his own was from a post from DCs Whos Who…
“It is known that Hex eventually returned to his own time. In 1904, when the 66-year-old Hex was cleaning his glasses, he was knocked on the head and fatally shot by George Barrow, leader of a gang of bank robbers whom Hex had killed. Lew Wheeler, owner of a Wild West Revue, shot Barrow and stole Hex’s corpse, which he had treated by a taxidermist and put on exhibit in his revue. The corpse was last seen in the Westworld Amusement park on the outskirts of New York City in 1972.” Source DCs Whos Who
It is never easy to see your favorite books be cancelled when there are so many more stories to be told. the future HEX universe is one that I would love to see rebooted so if there are any HEX fans out there, lets talk maybe we can do something about this!
So as I put these issues back in the long box I am sure those who collected comics back in the 80s can appreciate this story and have many of their own..enjoy and keep reading those books new and old!
So heroes..there’s our call..everyone BACK TO THE SATELLITE!
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UPDATE July 20 2013: For those who read the original post this entry may come as a shock to you as it has been completely revamped but the original content is still intact! As a Satellite extra I have included a COMPLTE Hex Cover Gallery and some obscure extras at the end..hope you enjoy!
Hex had a fun encounter with all things future in a episode of Justice League Unlimited Called “The Once and Future Thing Pt. 1” which gives us another nod to the Hex series as Hex joins with the Justice League to bring down many futuristic badguys..so for your viewing pleasure and another added extra..enjoy!
Some very rare Hex merchandise. The DC heroes Role Playing games were very popular in the mid 80s and HEX would be part of the action as well! This one is a little hard to track down!