WEEKEND READING: ‘Jonah Hex: No Way Back’ And Other Western Tales

Just when you thought the Western had hung up its guns, “Jonah Hex” arrives in theaters this weekend.

While “Hex” stars Josh Brolin and Megan Fox are hoping the big-screen debut of DC’s scarred bounty hunter does well enough to merit another whiskey-swigging adventure, comic book readers know that Jonah Hex has been kicking ass and slinging a six-shooter for nearly four decades now — and he’s not alone. The western hero is not only alive and well in the comic world, there’s a multitude of characters and stories to choose from, depending on your personal tastes.

Reckon you’d like to try out a few comics set in the Wild West?

“Jonah Hex: No Way Back” — Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti (w), Tony DeZuniga (a), DC Comics

An origin story of sorts for Jonah Hex, longtime “Hex” writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti team with the character’s co-creator, artist Tony DeZuniga, for a brutal tale that explores how the bounty hunter’s childhood helped make him the most feared gunslinger in the West.

“No Way Back” not only forces Hex to deal with family issues he’d long left behind, but also introduces a new wrinkle in the bounty hunter’s life: a half-brother he didn’t know existed. All that plus a showdown with his longtime enemy El Papagayo makes the story a great jumping-on point for anyone interested in the world of “Jonah Hex.”

It’s hard to go wrong with the combination of Gray and Palmiotti’s script and DeZuniga’s art, and “No Way Back” offers a great way for anyone interested in the character to jump into his bloody, brutal world.

“Streets Of Glory” — Garth Ennis (w), Mike Wolfer (a), Avatar Press

I shouted-out this 2007 miniseries from Garth Ennis and Mike Wolfer a year ago in our Adapt This feature, saying that it’s exactly the sort of story that could bring the Western back to Hollywood. I stand by that assessment today, and would add that it’s one of the best western-themed comics published in the last few years.

“Streets of Glory” is the tale of aging gunslinger Joseph R. Dunn, a holdover from a rapidly closing chapter in American history who’s resigned himself to the uncertain fate that awaits someone with his unique skills. As he tries to find peace with the next chapter of his life, he’s confronted by a terrifying enemy from his past, and has to fall back on his violent ways once again.

Anyone familiar with Ennis’ work will likely be prepared for the savage imagery of “Streets of Glory” — and if you’re not, you can consider this your warning. Wolfer brings all of the raw, terrible moments from the tale to life on the page, and makes a strong stomach part of the prerequisites for reading the comic. “Streets of Glory” is the brutality of the Wild West at its gory best.

“High Moon” — David Gallaher (w), Steve Ellis (a), ZudaComics

For those who like their Western tales with a dose of the supernatural (a la the movie version of “Jonah Hex”), “High Moon” presents a Wild West populated with the occasional werewolf, vampire, or demon — and a hero who knows that the best way to handle such creatures is with a bullet.

Originally published online as part of DC’s Zuda Comics competition, the print collection of “High Moon” offers a great way to digest this very unique, very cool story. Gallaher does a great job of surprising readers with some twists and turns that will keep you guessing about his characters’ motives, while also bringing to mind the best aspects of the classic Old West anti-hero.

With just enough magic and horror to keep things interesting and enough Wild West drama to keep things grounded, “High Moon” is a great blend of monster-hunting fun and western adventure.

Got any other Wild West comics you’d recommend? Let us know in the comment section or on Twitter!