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Jonah Hex Motion Comics
Note: this review is based on a screener disc so it does not contain audio/visual ratings.
With the release of Jonah Hex as a major motion picture, Warner Bros. followed the template established by their last comic book movie, The Watchmen, and released some motion comics to promote the film. There are three separate Jonah Hex stories available, Two Gun Mojo, The Hangin' Woman, and The Gunfighter, spanning seven chapters with each running 11-14 minutes.
The only information you need coming into these motion comics is that Jonah Hex is a bounty hunter, a quick draw, has incredible aim, and he's not all that evil. In these stories, Hex's origins are never fully divulged. His past as a Confederate soldier is hinted at, but the horrible scarring on his face is never explained and we are never told just how he became such a great marksman. Nor does that background information really affect the three stories.
The three motion comics contain all the hallmarks of typical Jonah Hex stories: tons of violence, a side of macabre humor, and plenty of one-liners as Jonah Hex shines on his victims. The Two Gun Mojo miniseries spans the first five episodes of the motion comic release. Jonah Hex is a creepy, threatening figure, rumored to have "killed more men than Hell has souls." A gang of thugs are about to hang Jonah Hex when Slow Go Smith, a fellow bounty hunter, comes to the rescue. Slow Go is later murdered and Jonah Hex vows revenge. Hex's investigation leads him to a snake oil salesman named Doc Williams who has some very mysterious underlings. Two Gun Mojo follows Jonah as he uncovers what Doc Williams is up to.
In the next episode, The Hangin' Woman, a judge hires Jonah Hex to apprehend a gang of bank robbers. Jonah finds the woman judge to be suspicious, but goes out to track them down nonetheless. In the final story, The Gunslinger, Jonah Hex sticks up a gang of stagecoach robbers who massacred a bunch of innocents such as a woman and her 6 year old child. He captures the thieves. However, on the way to turn the murderers over to the authorities, Jonah and his prisoners get caught in a snow storm. When Jonah Hex stops at a farmhouse for shelter, one of the residents helps a robber escape and Jonah must track them both down.
For those unfamiliar with the motion comic technique, the producers take the original comic art, animate it a little, add some special effects, and replace the comic text with voice acting. Producing motion comics is undoubtedly much cheaper than creating a full-blown cartoon, which is why Warner Bros. uses them to promote comic-based summer blockbusters. The motion comic effect looks hokey at first. As you become absorbed in the story, the cheese factor of animated comics tends to wane, but never completely disappears--there's always some awkward animation to distract you from the show. However, it's not unwatchable; the decent stories and the great voice acting compensate for the stiff animation and the sometimes painful looking angles that the characters' shoulders and elbows take on.
Veteran voice actor, Jim Cummings, does an excellent job with Jonah Hex. His take on Hex is similar to the low, growly Batman voice, but with a Western drawl. Jim Cummings' voice sounds almost exactly how I imagined Jonah Hex would sound when I read the comics. The voices of the main cast sound fine, but some of the background characters with just a line or two have country accents that are laughable at best--even for a cartoon.
Final Thoughts: There's no word about a DVD or Blu-ray release of the Jonah Hex motion comics, but all eleven episodes are available online at various stores. If you are a fan of the Jonah Hex comics, then you will love seeing some of your favorite stories voice acted and slightly animated. Viewers have to be open to the idea of motion comics. The effect looks really cheesy if you have never seen it before and many viewers will simply walk away laughing. Jonah Hex is easy to pick up for new fans because there isn't much you need to know about the character's past to enjoy the story. The motion comics are based on the Jonah Hex stories from DC's Vertigo line, which is aimed at mature audiences. As such, there is a lot of gore, violence, and even a little profanity. With a healthy mix of Wild West gunslingin' and some horror elements, these motion comics are fun, quick, and worth watching if you are a fan of the comics or are interested in the character. However, I still prefer reading the comics. Rent It.