"The Ballad of Tallulah Black (Part 1)"
Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmotti
Artist: Phil Noto
Publisher: DC Comics
Ah Jonah, you and your women. What can I say about that. From your beautiful nuns (Evelyn from Jonah Hex #6) to your Apache first-loves (White Fawn from Jonah Hex #14) to what we have in this issue, a battered by life and man, once innocent, orphan-turned-prostitute, Tallulah Black, Jonah Hex has a "span" more expansive that a certain billionaire playboy caped crusader. Then again, variety is the spice of life. Speaking of spice, that is something that has never been lacking in this series, and this issue is no different.
Starting with a cute yet eerie opening scene involving Jonah, the story soon takes off in the direction of a young woman, carrying off along with it, the orphaned and mutilated Tallulah. As if losing her family and having her left eye shot out wasn’t bad enough, Tallulah soon finds herself in the "employment" of a brothel. Even then there is no respite for a chance visit by the men who killed her family brings a lot more pain and suffering, in the aftermath of which the now hardened and calloused (physically, mentally and emotionally) sets out on a journey to find the one man who can help her, help in getting revenge on the people who did this to her. Jonah Hex. However, unlike many others who want to hire Jonah’s services to do their dirty work for them, Tallulah wants him to teach her, train her, until she has the means to do the killing for herself.
As engrossing and hard hitting as Gray and Palmotti’s writing is, so is the competence of artist Phil Noto’s visuals. It is really something when along with reading about the (physical and personality) changes in a character, one can also "see" them. Even though I could have done without the "Plumber’s Crack" of the store owner’s behind, the haunting almost ethereal quality of the colors made it all worthwhile.
Conclusion: The only permanent western title on my pull-list, Jonah Hex is also one of the best overall. This issue, not only meets the standard set by the ones preceding it, it also does its bit in raising the bar even further.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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