Jonah Woodson Hex was a bounty hunter and an anti-hero created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga. From his earliest appearance, he was described as a man with two constant companions – Death and the acrid smell of gunsmoke. His face was scarred, he wore a dirty Confederate uniform and they say he’s killed more men than Hell has souls.
His mother, Virginia, ran away with a travelling salesman. His father, Woodson Hex, was a mean drunk who sold his thirteen year old son into slavery at the hands of the Apaches. After he saved the Chief from a puma, he was formally adopted. Another brave was jealous and had Jonah ostracized from the tribe.
Like many a young man with no direction in his life, he enlisted in the army. As a cavalry scout in the Confederate Army, he saw action up until the Emancipation Proclamation. Disgusted with war and pointless slaughter and now disillusioned with the cause for which he fought, he surrendered himself to Union troops. Unfortunately, his entire unit was captured and blamed him. A mass escape from their prison camp turned into the Fort Charlotte Massacre, of which Hex was the sole survivor.
After the war, he drifted back to life among the Apaches and was forced to kill his rival in a rigged duel. The Apache inflicted punishment and torture on Hex, scarring the right side of his face with the Mark of the Demon.
Cast out once more, he became a bounty hunter but one with a strong moral code. He’d kill for a bounty but he was not an assassin. He took no pleasure in killing. He married a Chinese woman Named Mei Ling who bore him a son and left him, just like his mother did. At least she took the boy with her. Jonah Hex was shot and killed in 1904 while playing poker. His body was stuffed and mounted and used as an attraction at a Wild West show. They replaced his drab Confederate uniform for a more elaborate and flashy appearance. An ignominious end for such a fearsome and troubled man.
That sounds like it’d make a pretty good movie. Or a tv show, since most Jonah Hex stories are what’s referred to as “one-and-done” – self-contained, with no need for ongoing continuity. Hex meets the bad guys. Hex kills the bad guys. Hex rides outta town. Hell, it writes itself.
But that’s not what we got.
We got, for some reason, a Jonah Hex who can communicate with corpses. He interrogates the dead. He also has a Gatling gun strapped to his horse because reasons.
Go back and re-read the first five paragraphs. Do you see anything about talking to dead people? How about Gatling guns, any mention of them? No? I’m pretty sure that would have stood out.
So why make that … odd (not to mention stupid) artistic choice? Jonah Hex doesn’t have a damn Gatling gun strapped to his horse, nobody does. BECAUSE IT’S STUPID, THAT’S WHY! That’s not Jonah Hex, at all. Jonah Hex doesn’t chat with the recently deceased, he’s the one who deceases ‘em. Why even make a film called Jonah Hex if he’s not even in it? Come up with another name and spare yourself and the audience the humiliation.
And humiliation it was. The Jonah Hex film has a 12% score on Rotten Tomatoes. They wasted more than 80 million dollars on this piece of shit so that we could watch John Malkovich chew Western scenery and Megan Fox play a hooker with a heart of gold who wasn’t actually a hooker. Josh Brolin had just won a fucking Oscar and he starred in this turkey. Why?
Jonah Hex was cool, all on his own. Even his name is cool. He didn’t need an unnecessary, superfluous super-power or a goddamn Gatling gun. There was entirely no pressing need to even make this film. (They keep trying to make Westerns a thing again and that’s great and all; Hell, I love Westerns. But WANTING something to be a Thing and it ACTUALLY BEING a Thing are two different things.) Nobody was demanding this. Not even me, and I love Jonah Hex more than is entirely possible. They spoiled the character, wasted him, for absolutely no purpose at all. They handed everyone in the cast something to regret on their filmography.
Do you know how many school lunches 80 fucking million dollars can buy? I don’t but I bet it’s a lot. Can you possibly think of a better use for such a fortune? I sure can and I’m sure you can too. And who in their right mind looks at Jonah Hex and says “Hmm. Gatling guns are cool. Can he have a Gatling gun?” Now, Gatling guns ARE cool but that’s not the point. The point is Jonah Hex doesn’t use a Gatling gun. Even that time he got sent into the future.
Yeah. They transported him to some lawless, Mad-Max-style dystopian wasteland for a while in the comics. Apparently, somebody thought was a good idea too.
NEXT – THE CLOSING ARGUMENT