“All-Star Western,” “Batwing,” “Birds of Prey,” “Superboy,” “Trinity of Sin: Pandora,” and “Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger” have all been slated to end come this August, according to the most recent DC Comics solicitations. Of the six, All-Star Western, Batwing, Birds of Prey, and Superboy have been in print since DC’s New 52 relaunch in August of 2011. According to the Comic Book Resource, of the original 52 titles released, only 21 remain in print now. Those cancelled titles have been replaced by others, of course.
Although some of these characters are of a recent creation (both Pandora and Batwing were introduced in 2011), others have had a lasting impression upon the DC Universe. But, among those cancelled, it was Jonah Hex’s putting out to pasture that came as both no surprise and a shock to me. Now, before I get guff for that statement, let me explain.
Of all of those titles, I only read one: All-Star Western. The series, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, followed the tale of the bounty hunter Jonah Hex and psychologist Amadeus Arkham as they try to solve a series of murders in Old Gotham that was perpetrated by the Gotham Ripper. That relationship with Arkham would later help Hex out when he was accidentally sent to the present after a chance encounter with the time-travelling hero you’ve never heard of, Booster Gold, and his meeting with a certain Mr. Bruce Wayne in present Gotham. The series as a whole, I felt, added a certain interweaving aspect and backstory to the world of Batman, at least. And, the inclusion of my favorite hero Booster Gold made things that much better.
So, when I started to cut down my comics pull recently, I still kept All-Star Western. Although I haven’t watched many classic westerns, I do enjoy a good western story. The tales take me back to an obscure and wild time in American history when lawlessness ran rampant, and the only thing that could keep you safe was your wits and ability to use a gun. It’s rough. It’s rugged. It’s adventurous, and the story could turn on a dime at any moment. It was that thrill that kept me coming back. Unfortunately, not a whole lot of readers felt the same way that I did.
Palmiotti and Gray have been writing and reinventing Jonah’s story since 2005. What they’ve done was try to make a story that mixes the old and the new, that being no truer than with their New 52 run. They tried to pull in characters we haven’t seen for a while (like El Diablo in the first few issues and Booster Gold in issue #19) and characters we know well (Batman, Superman, and Swamp Thing) to tell a story that expands beyond a mere western about a guy with a screwed up face and an ax to grind. But, again, it’s still a western at heart.
If the failure of a good movie like The Lone Ranger was meant to be the harbinger of things to come, westerns aren’t as welcome as they used to be, and that’s why we’re seeing Jonah go away. It wasn’t the writers’ fault (Palmiotti is a writer for the new Harley Quinn series, which will now be moved to a twice-a-month shipping schedule and Gray has another book coming out soon with Palmiotti), it’s that the audience isn’t there anymore, and that’s a shame. But, what are we supposed to do? Go door to door, Jay & Silent Bob style, and kick the ass of every naysayer?
Well, if someone else is paying for it, I suppose I could…
Here’s what Palmiotti had to say about it, via his Facebook page:
Hey Crew, all good things come to an end, but we plan on going out in a spectacular fashion with one of the most heartfelt tales we could deliver, drawn by the amazing Darwyn Cooke, in the last issue of ALL STAR WESTERN, #34. Thanks for all the well wishes and for supporting our 105 Jonah Hex issues over the years. This was a run which we honestly could never have done without everyone’s support. We hope you give our new title Star Spangled War Stories featuring
G. I. Zombie the same shot you gave Jonah all those years ago. The book can be pre-ordered now and comes out in July.
Anyway, thanks again for all the love and support. We are not going anywhere, just moving on to other titles and characters. It’s a part of the business that is part sad and totally exciting at the same time. My personal thanks goes out to all the amazing artists we have worked with for the last 7 years. A more talented crew you will find nowhere else.
My biggest thanks go to my co-writer, the amzing Justin Gray and finally DC Comics. Without the two of them this never would have lasted so long. Trust me.
I would like to thank Palmiotti and Gray for giving us some great Jonah Hex stories. As for me, I know I’ll be checking out Star Spangled War Stories when it drops soon. To those fellow fans out there who are heartbroken, I just want to tell you that we’ll make it through just fine, though the road we must travel now may be rough and winding. And, for those of you who are happy that All-Star Western was cancelled, I’ll leave you with this tweet from The Amazing Spider-man’s Dan Slott: