All-Star Western: Year One (New 52)

All-Star Western: Year One (New 52)

Doom DeLuise and Jim Doom mentioned in their podcast a few weeks ago that they had not read All-Star Western from the New 52. Well I have read every issue to date, so I feel I have an obligation to tell you folks how it is. So here goes nothin’.

I’ll start off by explaining the basic premise and format. All-Star Western is, as the name would suggest, a comic set in the Old West. Each issue has a “main” story arc and a much smaller “mini-comic” whose arc usually spans 2 issues. The main story arc follows Jonah Hex. Some of you may be familiar with him (I wasn’t) as he used to have his own series.

The premise for Jonah Hex is a bit different this time around. This time, Jonah teams up (albeit very unwillingly) with Dr. Arkham– whose name is engraved on Arkham asylum in present day Gotham. As you may have guessed by this point then, the comic also takes place in Gotham City…..back in the Old West!! Bruce Wayne’s ancestor with some order of magnitudes of ‘great’ in front of it is there, as are several names you’d welcome from the powerful in Gotham today (e.g. Cobblepot!).

Jonah Hex in old Gotham

The first year has a very long arc that starts with Jonah Hex (aka world’s greatest badass) teaming up with Dr. Arkham (aka C3PO) trying to solve a few minor crimes. As they start digging further in, however, they accidentally expose huge conspiracies, including the Talons (yes, it has a ‘Night of the Owls’ tie-in!) and followers of the ‘Crime Bible’ (which sounds like a second grader made it up). Eventually, Hex meets up with other old friends, and they work together to try and bring these criminals to some Texas Justice.

GI JOE: A Real American Hero #2 (July 1982)

“The Panic at the North Pole!”

A note from glancing at the beginning of this issue: 15 out of the 22 sentences in the opening 2 pages end with an exclamation point. Hopefully that drives home to you how hard they were trying (very hard) in these precious first issues of GI JOE to deliver groin-grabbing excitement. I think they’re trying a little too hard.

The issue opens on a decimated American winter base in the middle of the Arctic. To set the stage of what’s going on in the world at the time that this series was started, the Americans immediately suspect “Ivan”—The Russians. If you’re looking for real Cold War nostalgia, look no further. And there will be more. Much more.

Anyway, the JOEs visit a nearby “Ivan” base to see if the Russians are indeed behind the attack on US property. As they arrive, an Eskimo goes inside the “base” (aka TUFF SHED) and leaves shortly thereafter. When he’s gone, the JOEs search the base to find the Russians dead and some equipment missing. Snake Eyes finds an armed bomb and the group escapes just before the base explodes. Speaking of Snake Eyes, we also learn in this issue (at the beginning) that Snake Eyes has a massively deformed face. We don’t get to see this, of course. We find out in classic comic fashion– by some guy remarking on it (“My God! Your face!”) from an angle where we can’t see.

The Eskimo turns out to be Kwinn; in this issue he’s a total weirdo but he eventually becomes important. The US army brass sends a communique on Breaker’s teleprinter:


GI Joe: A Real American Hero #1 (June 1982)

A few months ago, I walked into Midwest Pickers Warehouse in Omaha with my wife. She wanted to look for some retro-ish credenza for our hallway. For those of you who don’t live here or who haven’t been, this business is exactly what it sounds like – – a couple of folks sitting in a warehouse in midtown Omaha, hocking antiques and old crap of every possible variety for “retail prices.”

Example: They had a Show-Biz Pizza glass (WANT), a Metz Beer ice bucket from the 30’s (WANT), and a baseball glove signed by Carl Sabo (not really, but it may as well have been). What I find so interesting about these places is that I used to go to places like this all the time – – thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets – – wherever I thought I could find a “cool” old t-shirt. In those days, everything was so reasonable. A shirt was a quarter or a buck. Shoes were, like, $5. Now, thanks to America’s nostalgia kick, and The History Channel’s “American Pickers,” everything in these places costs more than any sane person would be willing to pay for them. The Metz Beer ice bucket, for example, was $130 – – just so we’re clear about why I don’t own it.

We walked around the warehouse, gawking at some of the bizarre stuff and marveling at some of the others (a card catalog from the old State Capital when it was in Omaha!). Just as we were leaving, my eye caught something – – a stack of old comics, buried under a Star Wars board game (the game was super awesome, but they wanted $70. I’m in the wrong business). I dislodged the comics and carefully fanned them out on the card table. I was stunned by what I was looking at – – a large stack of GI JOE comics from the 1980s, in seemingly great condition (“great” is relative; I’m definitely not qualified to really rate them). The first thing I laid eyes on was this: