Winter comes to Gotham circa the late 19th century, and with it a plague that scours the poorest parts of it. But not even cold and the threat of disease can stop Jonah Hex from pursuing his bounty. It’s ALL STAR WESTERN #17. What horrors lie in wait in the borders of the quarantine zone? Which great figure of DC universe lore stands at the heart of these events?
Meanwhile, in the first part of the new backup feature, who is Jenny Freedom? And what is her connection to Stormwatch?
One of the major themes that accompany this series is the frank depiction of city life – and death – during the height of the industrial revolution. Makes sense, given Jonah Hex’s stories frequently depict life in the old west. Of course, having more than a passing familiarity with history of this era, I get the feeling the writers were making old Gotham out to be an amalgam of New York City, Chicago, and London. London in particular because this story begins with a supposed cholera outbreak.
Oh by the way, if you were looking for a place to jump onto the series, this is it. Because ALL STAR WESTERN #17 makes only passing reference to what happened previously.
In response to the outbreak, city officials opt to wall off the areas of infection. Unfortunately they also decide to let those trapped inside fend for themselves like some old time version of Escape From New York, which leads the wife of Alan Wayne to secretly bring food and medicine to the suffering people. A plan that backfires when she falls in and gets captured by people trying to trade her for supplies. And so Wayne hires Hex and his erstwhile partner Amadeus Arkham (among others, though they aren’t important in the long run I can assure you) to venture in and save her. I presume Arkham went along because he’s a doctor, because otherwise he’d be the last person to venture into such a fetid hole.
Oh, and Vandal Savage is making his contractually obligated cameo. Because he’s immortal, and therefore is involved in everything in all history ever. Don’t get me wrong, I like Vandal Savage, he’s cool. But in addition to being a regular character in Demon Knights, I’m seeing him everywhere. Here’s he’s acting like a kind of half-way between the boisterous, fun-loving Savage of Demon Knights and his more dour incarnation of the relative present.
Speaking of Demon Knights, it’s been established that the eponymous group would form the foundations of Stormwatch. And it just so happens that the newest backup story features Stormwatch, circa this time period.
In a damn enjoyable pulp fiction style story, we’re introduced to Jenny Freedom, a century child with the power to control steam and light. The introduction takes the form of the (oddly energetic given she’s in her eighties) adventurer trying to stop a science pirate of the sky from using a lightning cannon to destroy the president. And he’s got a squad of mummies at his beck and call.
Forget anything I may have said about this series before, I declare ALL STAR WESTERN to be awesome.
Remember in the previous backup story with Tomahawk fighting US troops? And how it was kind of boring? Throw that out, we now have mad scientists using airships and occult magics. As I guy who has found a love for Genius the Transgression and pulp stories in general, this story is amazing. And really, it doesn’t take itself seriously. I could recommend ALL STAR WESTERN #17 simply on these few pages alone.
Also there’s something about Jenny Freedom being a former member of Stormwatch, but that’s for next issue.