Saturday, March 08, 2008

Jonah Hex #29: A Digression

Have you ever seen Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch? I hope so, because it's one of the greatest American films ever, and I fell in love with it during the opening credits as I watched the pan-and-scan version on the 19-inch tv at my parent's house when I was 17 years old.

If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about, but if you haven't seen it, the movie opens with credits that combine black-and-white illustration-style freeze frames with the "heroes" riding into town. You don't know they aren't heroes at first--they're dressed in military uniforms (which are disguises, as we later learn)--and William Holden certainly embodies that type of rugged hero so popular in classic Westerns. (Of course, he is a hero by the end, in Peckinpah's own nihilistic way.) But one of the greatest, and most memorable, parts of the credits sequence is that the children they ride past are playing with something on the dusty ground. And as the camera cuts from character to character back to the children at play (all as the sharp drum report plays in the background), we see that the characters are watching a scorpion being devoured by fire ants. A horrifically symbolic image surely, but Peckinpah doesn't stop there--he then shows the children lighting the scorpion and the ants on fire.

That's what Jonah Hex #29 feels like. It feels like watching a scorpion being devoured by fire ants as they all burn in the flames of torment. And Rafa Garres, the artist on this issue (who has a Bisley-meets-Fabry grotesque-ery to his artwork, but somehow manages to make it all look beautiful--that's his work on the cover image too) is a perfect fit.

These Palmiotti and Gray Jonah Hex stories often resolve in simplistic ways, and this issue is no exception, but leading up to the climax, this is some good comics. Peckinpah, DC style.


Marc Caputo said...

You know, it's funny. I was watching "The Boys from Brazil" the other night (always wanted to see it) and noted how Mengele's plot wasn't just to clone Hitler - it was to create clones of Hitler and place them in familial situations which mirrored the actual one's life in the hopes of recreating "the Hitler experience".

All of which reminded me of Morrison's retcon of Caulder causing the accidents that created the eventual members of the Doom Patrol.

I know, not a perfect fit. But I was reminded of one while watching the other.

Timothy Callahan said...

All of which reminds me of Sam Jackson's character in "Unbreakable."

Timothy Callahan said...

Speaking of Niles Cauler as an evil dick, those Arnold Drake "Doom Patrol" issues really do present him that way. He is sneaky and manipulative. Did you know that the thing on Cliff Steele's chest is supposed to be a camera, so Caulder could see everything Robotman saw? Talk about micro-management!

Marc Caputo said...

1st post: Shit, I love that movie even more than "The Sixth Sense". Should have remembered that.

2nd post: I bought the first DP archives when it came out and I do remember that. But stuff that old makes my head hurt at times and haven't re-read them.

I love "The Wild Bunch". Got my wife to watch it; she'll throw out "If they move, kill 'em" at random intervals. It's cool. Primal Scream did a song (as it were) by that name and sampled Holden's voice on the track.