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52apolooza: All-Star Western

Written by Niam Suggitt and Katie Hutchison on Monday, October 17 2011 and posted in Reviews

All-Star Western is riding into 52apolooza!  How does it do?  Click and find out!

Welcome to 52apolooza, the Outhouse feature focusing on DC's September Relaunch.  All of DC's 52 titles will be reviewed by our pool of reviewers to point out the best and worst that DC's new comic book line has to offer.  To see how this book ranks among the other new DC titles, be sure to check out our 52apolooza Rankings!

All-Star Western represents the cowboy comic in DC's New 52.  Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, how will an old Confederate handle a brave new DC universe?  Read on and find out!

Marvel Reviewer: Niam Suggitt

One of the best things about this Relaunch is the fact that DC are stretching their legs a little and trying out some different genres (or at least genre mash-ups). We've had them moving into Horror, War and Fantasy comics, and now it's the turn of the Western.

But then this isn't that new, All-Star Western is a continuation of the long-running Jonah Hex series, with the same writing team of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. I ran hot and cold with that series, liking some issues but disliking others, but on the basis of this issue, ASW is a different story, and one more to my liking.

asw1One of the surprising things about this series is that it isn't really a Western at all. Gray and Palmiotti (I'll call them Graymiotti from now on) have taken Hex away from the wide open West, and moved him East, to the hustle and bustle of Gotham City. But the fact that this isn't a Western isn't a problem, it's actually a plus. Graymiotti do a great job at juxtaposing Hex with his new environment, and show how the progress of American history is kind of leaving him behind. It's fascinating to see Hex out of place, and I can't wait to see how he works in a world he doesn't quite fit in. In this issue it looks like he's bringing the Wild West with him, he's starting Saloon brawls wherever he goes.

Graymiotti also show what makes Hex different by who they have him work with, Doctor Amadeus Arkham, a psychological consultant for the Gotham City Police Department. The writing team show that Arkham is a man of the future compared to Hex's man of the past, and together, they form an interesting team. Arkham's psychological examination of Hex was a lot of fun.

Arkham of course is a famous name for fans of Batman, and this issue contains several mentions of famous Gotham names, we get a mention of an Alan Wayne, a forebear of Bruce, and the Mayor of Gotham in the 1880s is a Cobblepot, whose family will eventually produce The Penguin. These little nods are pretty cool and provide a depth of history to Gotham City that makes the city come alive.

The mystery set up in this issue is a little clichéd, prostitutes are being murdered and words daubed on the walls in blood, but things get a lot more interesting at the end as Graymiotti reveal that there is a much deeper conspiracy behind these serial-killings.

The artwork from Moritat is strong, but the colouring from Gabriel Bautista is very muted and gives the book a muddy sheen that may turn some readers off. I know that Gotham is a dark place, but it's not that dark!

Overall, this was a strong issue, it didn't suffer from the slow storytelling that many other DC #1s have as Graymiotti really made the extra pages work for your extra dollar. I really enjoyed seeing Hex out of his element, and the nods to Batman were a basic pleasure, but one I enjoyed. I was turned off by the previous Jonah Hex's done-in-one nature, I'm glad to see a more serialised story. Even if you don't like Westerns, this one comes highly recommended, because as I said, it's not even a Western.

Writing: 21/25
Artwork: 17/25
Accessibility: 22/25 (Graymiotti don't explain who Hex is, but it doesn't matter, he's the man with no name)
Enjoyability: 21/15

Final Score: 81/100

New Reader Reviewer: Katie Hutchison

All Star Western #1 was...okay. I knew a little about Jonah Hex from the 2010 Josh Brolin/Megan Fox movie so I was expecting something similar, and I got something similar. But then I remembered the movie wasn't all that great to begin with.

The plot itself seemed very stereotypical. I did like that Jonah had arrived in Gotham (something I didn't realize extended beyond the Batman universe) and I liked the tie-ins with Dr. Arkham and his desire to understand the criminal mind (obviously he will either start the Arkham Asylum or it is named after him). Together they investigate the five deaths of prostitutes, finding out clues that lead them to believe that the "Gotham killer" is a very powerful and rich man. I mean, isn't that the plot of several Western movies already?

Other issues I had with the comic include: Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray never explain what happened to Jonah's face (I knew it from the movie, but someone who had never seen it and was a new reader might want some context); they never explain why he is wearing a Confederate soldier uniform so long after the war, especially since it seems to bother nearly everyone who is around him; and the female characters were REALLY boobalicious. I mean, I know that happens a lot in comics, but this was a bit over the top (literally and figuratively).

Artwork wise I wasn't a huge fan. There was very little color, which I understand was probably a choice to make it look older and more Western, but in my opinion it made an average story more drab than it needed to be.

Score: 55/100 

Total 52apolooza Score (with One Review In): 136
(Average Score: 68.0)

Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt and Katie Hutchison

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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