All Star Western #8
All Star Western #8
Publisher: DC Comics
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Pencillers: Moirtat and Patrick Scherberger

All Star Western remains an enjoyable if flawed book that has the distinction of being one of DC's and mainstream comics' few remaining genre books. The fact that it resembles very few of its spandex clad counterparts on the stands works well in this book's favor, as while the story might meander from time to time, and the art continues to be problematic, I must say I enjoy having an old school western comic to crack into week after week.

This issue finds Jonah Hex continuing his infiltration of the August 7, a group of domestic terrorists targeting the influx of immigrants into the recently reunited United States. Doctor Arkham makes some discoveries of his own, though he largely bumbles through them and ends up captured first by the authorities and then by the terrorists they are hunting. While I originally enjoyed Dr. Arkham's addition to the series, eventually he is going to have to do more than become a hostage or act squeamish around Hex if his inclusion in the series is to serve any other purpose beyond unwanted exposition.

Nighthawk and Cinnamon fair slightly better as their dynamic is fun and their more traditional approach to heroism provides a nice counterpoint to Jonah Hex. The most interesting moments of the issue when they confront Hex over how far he is willing to go to sniff out his prey. Jonah Hex is a complicated who worships at the altar of violence and is far more concerned with being thorough in his mission than he is with the actual outcomes of the mission itself, as long as he gets the job done, he doesn't really care how it turns out for those involved. The reader is left wondering would Hex have sacrificed the boat in favor of the greater good or more accurately his prescribed mission of hunting down the full membership of the August 7.

Moirtat's art continues to be problematic. In some sequences it shines, in others it is muddled and sparse. Backgrounds do not seem to be his forte, as they are sacrificed in numerous panels. The fight between Hex and ZeeCee starts strong, but peters out part way through. The confrontation between Hex and the August 7 similarly is expertly rendered right up until the final page that seems overly scratchy lending it an out of focus quality. I loved Moirtat's work on the first arc of this title, but since than it has left me cold, leaving me wishing for a return to the rotating artists of Jonah Hex the precursor to this book.

Palmiotti and Gray continue to flesh out Nighthawk and Cinnamon in the backup feature, this time turning to Cinnamon's origins. And while it is an interesting little short, so many of these super hero origins are so similar, I almost would have preferred more of a focus on their adventure getting out of the abandoned mine, or a longer flashback focusing on how they met and became partners (perhaps a detail we'll get next issue).

This book has its problems but the fact of the matter is that in spite of its flaws it still delivers a fun, intriguing, action packed read month in and month out offering readers something they are hard pressed to find these days, a genre comic focusing on the old west. It's not the best of the New 52 but it is definitely one of the most unique. I would urge you to support it both because it is good, and because I would like to see DC take more chances on books off the beaten trail like All Star Western.

Grade: B

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