Jumping on Empowered and Jonah Hex

December 7th, 2009 by | Tags: , , , , , ,

Two releases last week ended up being great jumping on points for titles that actually deserve it. Rather than being a back to basics issue (which tend to be pretty bland) or exposition hour, these two just present their series as-is, and let you come to your own conclusions about it.

Jonah Hex is written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and is fifty issues deep. On the art side, it’s been blessed with issues by Luke Ross, Tony DeZuniga, Phil Noto, Paul Gulacy, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Art Thibert, Phil Noto, JH Williams III, Val Semeik, and Darwyn Cooke, but most of all, Jordi Bernet is the regular artist. The only DC Comics that looks better than Hex month in, month out, is Greg Rucka and JH Williams III’s Detective Comics.

Hex #50 is a one-shot tale, like almost the entirety of the series. The artist this time around is Darwyn Cooke, who you should already be familiar with. It features Jonah Hex, of course, his on-again, off-again lady friend Tallulah Black (a great name made greater by the fact that I used to live on Tallulah Trail years and years ago), and a whole mess of bad guys that need killing. It hits almost all of Hex‘s main points: brutal killing, Hex being a bastard, a little bit of black humor, and incredible art.

Hex is a series that I purchase mainly in trades. I know that it is going to deliver a good experience each time I drop ten bucks on a trade, but I went ahead and picked up this issue because of the anniversary and its extra size. I wasn’t disappointed at all. It was a great issue among good issues and definitely worthy of the expanded size.

Adam Warren‘s Empowered is another series I enjoy a lot, and Empowered: The Wench with a Million Sighs is a great introduction to the series. The story is an examination of the various sighs that Empowered employs in her life, be they out of frustration or of a baser nature. It’s laugh out loud funny, with a mix of both raunchy jokes and clever gags.

The Wench with a Million Sighs feels like a single chapter out of one of the larger Empowered volumes, which is definitely a good thing. As far as getting to know the book goes, this has everything. The humor, action, and personality that make Empowered great are in full effect. Emp spends the book fighting Irresistimovable while her boyfriend, best friend, and caged arch-enemy talk about her sighs and compare notes.

It’s a little self-aware, a little willing to poke fun at itself, and a lot of fun. Doing a one-shot special is a good play to gain attention in the Direct Market, and Warren’s approach to the special makes it easy to hop right into Empowered Volume 1. It’s a good series, and I hope that this works to get more readers for Empowered.

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12 comments to “Jumping on Empowered and Jonah Hex”

  1. Jonah Hex has been fantastic and part of the reason I started reading comics again. It’s the one book I push on pretty much everyone I know. It’s to bad the movie’s not looking so good.

  2. I love Jonah Hex, but I have absolutely no idea how it’s managed to run for 50 issues.

  3. @Debaser: Every time he’s been asked, DiDio ESSENTIALLY said “because I want it to continue”

  4. I’m not really interested in Empowered, but Jonah Hex has been a consistantly excellent for 50 issues. Just brilliant I look forward to it every month.

  5. @Debaser: It’s essentially middling to decent monthly sales and solid trade sales, as far as I know. It’s a good series with sales far below what it deserves, and I think DC recognizes that and supports it.

  6. Hopefully the movie helps it out a bit, although that has never really helped that much in the past. It’s in a strange place… people know about superheroes, Vertigo and Fantagraphics stuff, but most have no clue about great genre stuff like this.

  7. That WAS a fine Hex issue. On Empowered, I’m curious: I’ve been reading the trades because you and a few people championed them. Vol. 1 was rough going at first, because the early material is big on humiliating Emp without any up side for her (or the reader who doesn’t literally get off on the humiliation and T&A). Halfway through, her life and character become a little better-rounded, which is great.

    I’m now halfway through Vol. 3, not rushing, and what struck me about last week’s one-shot was how every single element that I’ve seen in late V1 through V3 is still in place — nothing has changed in her life. Same friends, same habits … a clever new story, new angles, but riffs on the same issues. Like a sitcom stays the same, at least until the little kids outgrow their cuteness. In the old days, son, a super-hero comic could maintain a simple status quo for decades, but these days you have to have undead green aliens invade every nine months.

    So I guess I’m wondering, through the existing five volumes, has Warren been mining the same basic setup unchanged, and has it continued to provide the top-quality material I’ve seen so far? I’m totally inviting, but don’t especially want, spoilers by asking this. On the other hand, it’s also an invite to wax on about the book a little longer — which, given Empowered’s “tropes” (as the high-fallutin’ critics say) is an unfortunate choice of idiom.

  8. @Guy Smiley: I may have something longer later (coming up for air from a work project briefly), but your sitcom point is pretty good. Warren works with the same setup, but the characters do evolve and relationships definitely change over time. It’s more like an onion– you peel it back and it’s still an onion, but there’s something new under there.

    The quality has only gotten better, though, as Warren eases back from completely focusing on the central theme (Emp gets tied up, here is why it is funny this time) toward just writing them as characters.

    So he’s been mining the same basic setup, but as it’s gone on, it’s subtly changed for the better. Not that it was bad at first, of course– but it’s gone from good to very good. Lemme know if you want more (most spoilers for emp would be relationship based, rather than plot based, making them hard to give context for), but that’s really about it.

  9. @david brothers: Nah, that’s good. As a guy who reads trades mostly, it’s impossible to avoid spoilers. Hell, apart from the fact that the initial floppies get talked to death first, I have a pathological thing where I flip to the back of a new trade to see if there are sketches and extras, and inevitably see the last page with, like, Magneto Returns! Carrying Batman’s corpse! Or I get halfway through, and wikipedia some side issue that invariably also spoils the story. It’s really dumb of me. (I recently drew too close to the flame of the Internet and got a major spoiler for Pluto, which you and others recently got me on, and which I’m only done with volume 4 of. It’s insane, the trade-waiting lifestyle.)

    I’m glad to know that Warren is still going strong, and that the strength comes from exactly the aspects I find most compelling about the work. Thanks for bringing me to his work. Reminds me to order the next trades through your Amazon button …

  10. @Guy Smiley: Yeah, I have a weird relationship with spoilers. I’ve put a lot of thought lately into how to talk about them without ruining them, if that makes sense. If the Pluto spoiler you mention is in v6, I know that I carefully chose my words in the review when referring to it, leaving it a surprise but still being able to talk about how incredible it is in the text.

    I don’t really like the spoiler culture that permeates mainstream books, where the point is what happens, not how it happens. “Batman dies!” doesn’t mean anything to me, how he got there does, but I can see why others would feel differently.

    Thanks for the Amazon thing, seriously. I need to make a post thanking people later this week, but it’s made a huge difference over the past year. Pretty exciting.

  11. @david brothers: Well (getting your thread truly off-track), it was in a review of Pluto v6 (not yours), which all I did was click to save for (much) later in my RSS feed, and yeah, there it was, a pretty shocking change to the makeup of the book, and it’s the only spoiler in a long time that I really regretted, where I fear the impact of the story will be a little lost.

    So if later volumes of Emp have her getting killed and being resurrected as the goddess of low self-esteem, thanks for not dropping that. But then again, caveat surfer, y’know? Ain’t no one makin’ me read posts about books/series I haven’t caught up on yet.

  12. Sadly, they’ll probably change the book to be more like the movie when it comes out.