Today on the site Craig Fischer returns to excellent column, Monsters Eat Critics, and an examination of Jonah Hex, which includes meditations on Westerns generally, plot structures and torture porn. Here’s a bit:
My biggest problem with All Star Western, however, is Gray and Palmiotti’s recalibration of the Western’s civilization/wilderness dialectic. In Hex #63, Jonah Hex is untamed, yet still bound by a personal code of honor, and he’s also the character we connect with the most. Hex appears in almost every scene of the comic; we are given access to his intimate memories of Aaron’s death, and we share his desire to stop Loco. I don’t think our identification with Hex is total; he brutally slits the throats of Loco’s men, he follows his father’s example by torturing Loco (and cutting out his eyes), and at moments like these some readers might put up some psychic barriers between Hex and their own emotions and sensibilities. We do have a strong sense of Hex’s status as a loner, however, and over the course of Gray and Palmiotti’s original series we come to know Hex as a character whose allegiances to both wilderness and civilization are mercurial and complex. Hex emulates the elegiac, conflicted gunslingers in earlier Western fiction and film, and Hex benefits from its dialogue with these predecessors.
And Rob Clough reviews Leela Corman’s graphic novel, Unterzakhn:
If there’s a villain to be found in Leela Corman’s return to comics, Unterzakhn, it’s hypocrisy. While this story of twin Jewish girls growing up in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 20th century is also about the art of survival and the arbitrary nature of what determines who lives and who dies, it’s really a celebration of human kindness in the face of the abyss and a condemnation of arbitrary, rules-based ethics systems. Corman jumps forward and back in time to tell the story of Esther and Fanya Feinberg, their father Isaac, and their mother Minna.
One of my all-time favorite comic strips, Zissy and Rita, now has a web site featuring all their adventures. Zissy and Rita, how do I love thee? This is one of those hilarious masterpieces that scratches an itch (or a whole rash) that you didn’t know you had.
Daniel Best has posted a fascinating article about Jerry Siegel’s life as an enlisted man in WWII.
And Tom Spurgeon has some thoughts on the late critic Robert Hughes.