Michael Fleischer: Writer Dick Ayers and Romeo Tanghal: Artists Shelly Leferman: Letterer Gene D'Angelo: Colorist Len Wein: Editor
A hero to some, a villain to others... and wherever he rode, people spoke his name in whispers. Friendless, Jonah Hex had two companions on this night: one was Death... the other, the fading smell of gunsmoke... It's near dusk on Christmas Eve, and the bounty hunter already sees several stars in the sky! A rather large one in the south, shining like a diamond as large as Tennessee! It's fine by Hex if they sit and sparkle! Perhaps they'll give him a few extra hours of light for finding the Tull Brothers... because it's unlikely that Barlow Tull could have gotten far with a .30 - 06 shell in his neck two days gone...
As Jonah mentally critiques his shooting skills -- he comes upon a little girl begging her father not to shoot a wounded deer! The man wants to provide his family with a fine Christmas dinner like other people, and she must let her father put some food on the table! The little girl doesn't want a Christmas dinner and only cares about the baby deer, as the bounty hunter rides in... The man sees this as a family matter, while the little girl pleads with the stranger to help her save the deer, and Jonah sees that the animal has a busted leg! While he examines the leg, the father points out in disbelief that this is winter, and food is scarce! Besides his daughter, Holly, the father has a wife and two other children to feed!
While the man struggles to prove his point, Hex asks the little girl to hand him some strips of cloth from his saddlebag! When the father asks what he's doing, the bounty hunter tells him that he's setting the wound... not panning for gold in the snow! He then tells the man that he hasn't forgotten about him! Seeing how the father is worried about missing out on Christmas dinner, Jonah tells him that he'll find a replacement for their lost dinner. The man agrees, but if the bounty hunter isn't back by sun up, he'll shoot the deer, then he and his family will have it for dinner! Hex has enough time to wonder what the heck he's gotten into, as he rides off...
He remembers when he was ten years old, and found a raccoon caught in a trap... Young Jonah took the wounded animal home, and named him "Roy Raccoon." Soon... the animal is kept warm in the woodshed, just as the elder Hex arrives to see what his son is up to. When the boy asks his father if it's okay for him to keep the raccoon in the wood shed, the adult agrees, then tells him to get about his chores...
At the dinner table, Jonah is eager to finish his supper and go outside to see "Roy." When his mother asks who "Roy" is, her husband tells her about the raccoon that the boy brought home. The woman suddenly realizes that the raccoon is the one they've been dining on! Jonah can't believe that they've killed "Roy," while his father tells him to mind his table manners, and that a raccoon is a raccoon, while people are people.
The furry animal in the woodshed was fresh game to the elder Hex, while to Jonah, it was a pet! He rises from the table and yells at his father... how he hates him, and how he wishes he were dead! WHAP! The young boy's face is slapped so hard, that he is knocked to the floor, while his father points out that until he is big enough to beat him, he better not talk back to his father! The next time he does, he will be skinned alive! Jonah is told to go to bed... and the childhood memories fade... It is now nightfall, and there is no sign of game... and even if there were, the bounty hunter would have to be an owl to find it! For some unknown reason, there isn't a moon out tonight! The only light in the night sky is from the same bright star off to the south! Hex decides to follow it, and see if it can't bring him some Christmas luck!
Hours pass... and there's no sign of animal tracks! It seems to Jonah that his lucky star has fallen -- but then, he spots a cave! Figuring he has nothing to lose, the bounty hunter heads for it, and figures that he might be able to flush out a hibernating bear! Inside the selfsame cave are the Tull Brothers, who are startled to see Jonah Hex heading their way! The two had backtrailed and covered their tracks, but it doesn't matter since the bounty hunter is here! As he gets closer to the cave entrance, Jonah sees a muzzle -- VIP VIP Homer Tull is pleased that he has nailed Hex with both shots, while Barlow Tull wonders how this can be so... especially since the bounty hunter can be very clever!
As Barlow asks his brother if he remembers the time in Hays City, Homer finds himself the recipient of three bullets to the chest... BDOW BDOW BDOW Jonah is in the snow, not in the mood to chat, and yells for the Tull brother to come out with his hands up high! Barlow grabs for his brother's rifle, and tells Hex that he'll have to come in after him to get him! The bounty hunter then tells the remaining Tull brother that he hopes that there's enough of him and his brother to identify for the reward when it's over! Barlow Tull sees the last Christmas gift he'll ever receive in this life, as Jonah Hex throws a bundle of dynamite with a short fuse at the cave entrance!
BARROOOOOOM! When the smoke has cleared... it looks like a profitable Christmas season for the bounty hunter, but this is of small comfort for Holly and her father -- but something catches Jonah's eye! It turns out that the little girl's fawn will make it through Christmas after all! At dawn, the bounty hunter returns to Holly and her father's place!
The little girl points to the two still figures on the horses behind Jonah's, and he tells her not to worry about them since they've just retired from bushwhacking! He gives Holly's father a Christmas dinner as promised! The man opens the knapsack and sees the trail provisions: including hardtack and... and beef jerky! The bounty hunter never promised him any Chinese food! He promised that he'd feed the family for Christmas, and he has done it! Jonah tells Holly that the fawn is now hers -- and her father admits that there was no way he could have shot the little deer anyway! Life may be hard on the frontier, but the more he thought about it, the more he knew that there had to be something more to Christmas than just adding some more pounds to one's stomach! Holly rushes to hug her father, while Jonah pauses to light a cigarette... If he were a religious man, Hex would have been tempted to say that it was a lucky star which led him to the Tull Brothers and the knapsack of food! Since he isn't a religious man, he'll just have to keep his mouth shut... and be grateful!
In addition to Jonah Hex, Michael Fleischer had also written stories of The Spectre in Adventure Comics back in the 1970's.
Dick Ayers is no stranger to westerns, having drawn 87 stories for the Wyatt Earp comic book from October, 1957 to December, 1959.
Romeo Tanghal is well-known for his inking on Wolfman and Perez's Teen Titans book in the 1980's.
As a bounty hunter, it's easy to see Jonah Hex as either a hero or a villain in a story.
To the Tulls, he is an most unwelcome sight, while to a little girl and her fawn, he is quite the hero.
During the holidays, the bounty hunter certainly believes in the gift of giving. After receiving the Tull's two shots, Jonah figures that it's better to give than to receive -- by sending some fireworks their way!
Frontier life can be hard, especially on fathers and their children. Hex recalls his own childhood experience with a pet, while Holly and her fawn has a happy ending. As father and daughter embrace, the bounty hunter lights his cigarette, no doubt warmed by the outcome rather than the match.
He was the west's weirdest hero and had his own monthly magazine.
Post-Crisis, the western character found himself in the future as his first series had ended, and Hex's new look and book ran for over a year in the late '80s.
Jonah Hex was a good'un and one of the best of the west.
Steve Chung "The Fawn and the Review"