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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Reader's Diary #1696- Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray (writers), Moritat (artist): All Star Western Vol. 1 Guns and Gotham

All Star Western: Volume 1 Guns and Gotham is set in the 1880s, but it almost could have been written back then, too.

This trade collection is made up primarily of a Jonah Hex (the scarred gunslinger) arc, followed by a couple of additional, shorter tales involving a couple of characters unfamiliar to me: El Diablo and Barbary Ghost.

Of these three, the Jonah Hex story is the better and most salvageable. It revolves around him visiting the new city of Gotham, partnering with Amadeus Arkham, to take down a villainous and insidious crime gang. I'd wanted to know more about the Jonah Hex character and I felt I got a good sense of what he's all about. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy with his own moral compass, one that sees no issue with taking out the bad guys with gun violence. He often comes across as rude but we get a glimpse that even this is from his pragmatic outlook: those who get close to him usually wind up dead. The addition of Arkham, who the legendary Asylum for the Criminally Insane is named after in Batman lore, was an unexpected but pleasant treat.

However, there's nary a woman to be found and the first one who appears is a prostitute who is shortly killed off with her eyes poked out. The follow-up, non-Hex stories add cultural appropriation and stereotypes to the mix with ill-conceived Native American and Chinese characters. Good to see some diversity, I suppose, but I'm not sure this was the way to go. Of course, not being from those groups myself, I don't want to claim offensiveness on their behalf, but I'm skeptical the majority of folks from either camp would have been okay with this. It made for an uncomfortable read in any case.

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