There is a lot of good to be said about Wonder Comics, DC Comics’ young adult superhero imprint overseen by Brian Michael Bendis for the past several years, but my absolute favorite new creation from this collection of series remains Jinny Hex—a modern descendant of Jonah Hex toting a trunk of powerful artifacts from the gunslinger’s many adventures. She possesses her ancestor’s no nonsense attitude, but without his cynicism or all of the baggage that comes with hunting human beings for money. Combine that spunk with a grabbag of magical and other powerful items, including a ray gun that allows Jinny to be a gunslinger without murder, and she’s well suited to land just about anywhere in DC Comics. The only question is where will her story go next? Readers receive the first hint at an answer as Wonder Comics closes its doors in Jinny Hex Special #1.
This over-sized one-shot provides readers with a reintroduction of sorts. Even if they have missed Jinny’s ongoing adventures in Young Justice, this special serves up everything someone might need to know to place Jinny Hex exactly where she belongs in the modern DCU. There’s a recounting of her origin, references to early adventures, and an emphasis on what’s most important to young Hex. This includes her small town roots, a loving mother who gave Jinny her surname, and a small supporting cast of characters. In another reality, this issue stands alone as an accomplished #1 issue for an ongoing series. However, here it must provide a complete story with no guarantee of continuation and that means a very quick introduction and resolution for Jinny’s first antagonist to call her own. The relatively limited space and other demands leave the introduction of this villain as a two-dimensional setup lacking any real tension for readers who have read more than a half dozen capes comics before.
The unsurprising procession of this issue’s conflict is enhanced a great deal by the active presentation of seemingly stale tropes. Artist Gleb Melnikov creates plenty of action, even in early sequences focused on introducing Jinny and quickly developing a relationship with her estranged father. Melnikov references Western tropes, summons plenty of activity in a shop, and plays up both joy and tension in montage-like bits. When the supernatural ugliness reveals itself about 10 pages into the issue, there is already plenty to appreciate without that added excitement. Which isn’t to say that what follows is less appealing—transformations of all sorts provide plenty of images and moments with far more impact than overabundance talking heads tropes.
Melnikov’s presentation of the Godseye and how this nefarious object alters its possessor is a particularly creepy element, and one that establishes a useful ongoing element for the character’s potential, future adventures. Many other new tropes tied to Jinny Hex in this special land flat by comparison. There’s a recurring motif of corny jokes (ostensibly told by Hex’s deceased mother) that reflect on events in the current story; these jokes are often forced into place and one even concludes without a clear punchline. There are more examples of concepts that never seem to have been fully considered in the script and they detract from an otherwise accessible adventure by reaching for cleverness that simply is not attained in execution.
It’s clear in the pages of Jinny Hex Special #1 that this is a character with a potentially long road ahead of her. The concept provides plenty of opportunities—only some of which are explored here—and the final page of this issue presents a space where any creator could pick up the reins. In spite of some underdeveloped motifs and banal plotting, Jinny Hex Special still serves up plenty of excitement and shows readers a new heroine with plenty of attitude ready to make her mark on DC Comics. Let’s just hope this isn’t the end of the road for one of the publisher’s most intriguing young heroes.
Published by DC Comics
On December 29, 2020
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Art by Gleb Melnikov
Colors by Luis Guerrero
Letters by Gabriela Downie
Cover by Nick Derington and Nick Filardi