Oooooo, haven’ you had enough of these DC/Looney Tunes crossovers yet? The consarn quality sure does vrrrrry between tha issues, don’ it? How about this here Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam Special #1? Is it good?
Writer: Bill Matheny, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: David Alvarez, Mark Texeira
Publisher: DC Comics
Ooooo, are you expecting a ton of cute homages to classic Looney Tunes phrases in Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam Special #1? Well don’t, because apart from a few “rootingest, tootingest” analogues, there really aren’t that many. And don’t look for perennial bad guy Sam to square off against reluctant good guy Hex — this pure-hearted Sam actually seeks Hex out for protection after cashing in a huge claim that he generously offered to share with his workers, only to be double-crossed.
Then, I say, and then, there’s Foghorn Leghorn, who is an actual GIANT CHICKEN MAN of unknown origin. Of course he works in the traveling freak show, taking on all contenders in boxing challenges, so at least that callback is kind of gratifying. The upstart who roughs him up and sets the climax in motion will make long-time Tunes fans smile, too.
And so it goes on like that. And on, and on and ON. The main story in the oversized Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam Special #1 is a whopping 30 pages long, 50% bigger than a standard issue, but sadly without the additional content. Instead, it feels like a regular 20-page book that’s been stretched out to fill the space, and barely seeing a shadow of Jonah Hex by page 7 only exemplifies that.
Most of those first six pages are devoted to setting Yosemite Sam up as a character you won’t really recognize beyond his verbal affectations. Writer Jimmy Palmiotti makes him more saintly than even your average hero, when a throwdown between Sam and Hex is likely what readers came to see. It worked for Batman and Elmer Fudd.
But he is a better hero than Aquaman, saving Leghorn from a certain drowning death, YES, all before we even get a glimpse of Jonah Hex! It’s foreshadowing for when Leghorn returns the favor to set up the most tepid climax you can imagine, one that involves a lot of hiding and some occasional sneaking. Add an unnecessary denouement to tie up a completely irrelevant plot point, and you’ve got a potentially pleasing story that whiffs on both the concept and the execution.
The art by the legendary Mark Texeira is appropriately scratchy, although Hex looks a little more Two-Face than usual. Paul Mounts’ colors bring some character to the tale, but that only goes so far. The brighter, more “Merrie” back-up story by writer Bill Matheney and artist Dave Alvarez is similarly unsatisfying, treated more as a traditional team-up, rather than playing with the juxtaposition the format affords.
Some of these weird little crossover issues have succeeded in melding the DC and Looney Tunes worlds in a way that enriches both and provides an experience greater than the sum of its parts. Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam Special #1 is not one of those books. It alters the core of Sam’s character, rather than nudging it for narrative purposes, while not-so-authentically mimicking the less important speech patterns and superficial traits of all the characters. The back-up story has the same problem in the opposite way, providing two missteps for the price of one and a quarter.