By: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray (story), Moritat (art), Gabriel Bautista (colors)

The Story: Hex sure has had an interesting mix of women in his life, hasn’t he?

The Review: In an era of decompressed storytelling, Palmiotti and Gray’s done-in-two style of narratives is something of a pleasant novelty.  Most of the time, they do a neat job of wrapping up their plots in the couple issues they set out for themselves, but every now and then, it feels like they cut their tale off just before it gets to fully stretch its legs, leaving it slightly unresolved, aimless, or a bit inconsequential.

That’s the feeling you get on this whole “August Seven” affair.  We only just got acquainted with the other four of these highly cultured and bigoted individuals, and before they ever execute another move, Hex and his pals (to use the word loosely) shut them down.  Obviously, the imminent danger to a ship full of immigrants required immediate action, but for all the effort Palmiotti-Gray took to build up the Seven, the Southerners prove rather weak-chinned in a real fight.  And without further ado and little sentiment, Hex and Arkham say so long to their New Orleans companions and go on their own merry way.

So overall, the whole story falls flat right at its climax, making for a rather dissatisfying end.  The most enjoyable thing to come out of it is the revelation that Arkham’s been in on the plan all along, and his loose behavior and tongue from last issue was actually him following Hex’s orders.  This can only mean Hex has accepted Arkham so far as to rely on the doctor in his work, though he won’t hesitate to dole out a bloody nose if Arkham gets too close to his personal life.

I suspect the ease and speed of the gang’s victory over the Seven comes as a result of Palmiotti-Gray having to transition into their “Night of the Owls” tie-in.  And actually, the transition here seems more seamless and sensible than what we’ve gotten on many of the other Bat-family titles.  Having Hex’s bounty become a Talon target gives good reason not only for our cowboy to head back to Gotham, but also to embroil himself with the Court of Owls when he returns.

He’ll have to get in line, as there’s already someone with a bone to pick with Gotham’s elite, some of whom are presumably members of the Court.  Having never followed Jonah Hex’s ongoing series pre-relaunch, I can’t tell you if Tallulah Black is a creation of that title or an old character Palmiotti-Gray are dusting off, but Hex recognizes her.  And why shouldn’t he?  From her attitude to her accent to her outfit to her scarred face (albeit less than Hex), she’s pretty much his female counterpart in every way, particularly in the way she takes a beating (or knife wound) and still picks herself up at the end of it.

Moritat impresses as he always does, though he lacks the free-flowing looseness that make for convincing action sequences.  There are times when his poised figures seem to be doing the impossible, like a panel where Cinnamon delivers a kick to the face of one of the August Seven—from what looks like a few yards away.  Still, I enjoy the Southern Gothic he gives to the chase with the Talon, a noir-ish sequence softened by Bautista’s deep blues and purples.

And we might as well pay some lip-service to the Nighthawk and Cinnamon back-up, which comes to a shrug-worthy end.  Frankly, these features haven’t been all that effective at getting us to connect to their protagonists, and Palmiotti-Gray’s eye-rolling narration do little to make you take it seriously: “It is a magnetism of desire, two forces being pulled together by an invisible energy more powerful than both of them.”  Patrick Scherberger, Dan Green, and Mike Atiyeh deliver some pleasant art, but it looks a bit too light and cartoony for the darker storyline Palmiotti-Gray go for here.

Conclusion: A mixed bag for sure—a disappointing end to one story, an intriguing start to another, and a feature which just sits there.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Without his magic talisman, Nighthawk is just a weak-sauce Hex, isn’t he?

– I do vaguely recall Hex having a Chinese love interest.  Anyone care to fill me in?