Wednesday, November 27, 2019

JLA Vs The Wild West

At one time, western comics were more popular than super heroes.  But, by the 1960s, the Justice League of America and others had taken the limelight away from the time of cowboys and such....

...but, there were a few who still braved the wild prairies, and in two special issues of the Justice League of America, they even ran against the JLA in a little shootout showdown!

But, before diving into that tale, a little history of the later day westerners!

Bat Lash

Bartholomew Aloysius Lash premiered in Showcase #76 (August, 1968) by Sergio Aragones and Nick Cardy, finding criminals by accident, as the wandering gambler avoided the boyfriend of a woman he fancied, and just tried to find a place to cook a pheasant.

Bat Lash grew up learning an appreciation for the finer things from his mother, Martha,  getting all the skills a man of the west would need from his father, Lemuel, and love from his brothers and sister (Thomas, William and Melissa).

Still, when swindlers and a crooked sheriff took his home from his family, killed his parents and his brothers went missing (and got him accused of murdering the local deputy), Lash took his sister (and girlfriend, Betsy) to a convent for safety, then spent years tracking down the criminals, losing those he loved along the way (even the two ladies, after he returned to the convent successful in his hunt....the two decided to remain committed to god and a life there).

Still undeterred, Bat Lash spent his time in the American Southwest, finding trouble where he went, but helping the less fortunate when he could, enjoying the ladies and a good poker game when available.

Bat Lash's appearances before meeting the JLA were in Showcase #76 and #100, Bat Lash #1-#7, Weird Western Tales #45, #46, #52. #53. #64. back ups in Jonah Hex #49, #51 and #52, with a hint of his future in DC Special Series #16.

Jonah Hex

Jonah Woodson Hex premiered in All-Star Western #10 (February-March, 1972) by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga, collecting a bounty on a gang, and finding that, even though he stopped the lawless folks, the scarred, ex-Confederate bounty hunter was still not welcome in the area.

Jonah Hex had a hard life, with his mother, Ginny, leaving her abusive husband, Woodson Hex.  Then, Woodson took his son to join the California Gold Rush, but sold him to Apache Indians.  There, Hex earned respect saving the chief, and fell for White Fawn, the favored of the chief's son, Noh-Tante, who, in an attempt to take horses from the Kiowa, left Hex behind, telling his tribe Hex had been killed. 

Hex, still alive, but wounded, was raised by a trapper, but unable to find his tribe, instead ending up working for first the U.S. Army, then the Confederate Army as a bounty hunter and trapper.  When Lincoln emancipated the slaves, Hex felt he could no longer work with a system that supported slavery, and went to turn himself in to Union forces. 

But, the Union forces figured out where Hex left his troops by mud on his horse, went and captured them, thanking Hex for his help in front of them.  The Union men then tried to kill their Confederate prisoners, but Hex helped free a few, who still blamed him for their capture (his friend Jeb did die, earning Hex the eternal hatred of Jeb's father, Quentin Turnbull). 

Hex then went to find his tribe, finding Noh-Tante married to White Fawn.  Hex challenged him to a duel, but Noh-Tante had sabotaged Hex's tomahawk, unknowingly forcing Hex to use his knife to kill Noh-Tante.  Violating the ethics of the tribe by killing, the chief had Hex's face branded with "the mark of the demon" and exiled from the Apaches.  Hex made a living as a bounty hunter, and ended up marrying Mei Ling, who wanted him to retire from the gunslinger life, though life kept drawing him back.

Jonah Hex had appeared in All-Star Western #10 and #11, Weird Western Tales #12-#38, Jonah Hex #1-#92, Justice League of America #159 and #160, DC Special Series #21, and the end of his life in the early 1900s was chronicled in DC Special Series #16.  (Hex's life after the Crisis On Infinite Earths in the 2050's of a nuclear war ravaged Seattle in Hex #1-#18 is worth a mention, but Jonah appears in these two issues of the JLA title between Jonah Hex #55 and #56). 


Brian Savage was the son of trail boss, Matt Savage, taken from his family by Kiowa tribe, and raised as Ke-Who-No-Tay ("He who is less than human") by the tribe.  Later, framed for murder, the man also known as Scalphunter tracked down the real criminals in his case, all the while avoiding U.S Troops intend on bringing him in, and along the way, meeting his real father....all in Weird Western Tales #39 (March-April, 1977) by Michael Fleisher, Dick Ayers and George Evans.

Later adventures had him righting wrongs in the West, coming to terms with his dual nature while dealing with the death of his father, learning of a sister, Samantha.  Scalphunter even had adventures with Bat Lash and President Abraham Lincoln as well...and even a certain Batman too.

Scalphunter appeared in Weird Western Tales #39-#70, DC Special Series #16, back up tales in Jonah Hex #40, #41, #45. #46 and #47, and Brave and the Bold #171, all before meeting the JLA and later, the Crisis On Infinite Earths.


Imagine you are the daughter of a widowed sheriff in a small Wyoming town, who watches your father killed by fleeing bank robbers and you'd know how Cinnamon felt in Weird Western Tales #48 (September-October, 1978) by Roger McKenzie, Jack Abel and Danny Bulanadi.

Cinnamon left the orphanage she was living in at 18, and went to hunt the killers, using her skills with the six gun and a new weapon, the shuriken (which resembled the sheriff star of her father).

The result of her quest was unknown, as her only two tales besides the JLA issues before the Crisis on Infinite Earths was in Weird Western Tales #48 and #49 (and she shouldn't have been able to team-up with the others, as the majority of their published adventures had happened in the 1870s, but she only started her quest in 1898!).  Be that as it may....there might have been other forces at work that created the team up of these heroes with the Justice League of America.

Once Upon A Time, In The Wild, Wild West

Gerry Conway, Don Heck and Brett Breeding gave us Justice League of America #198 (January, 1982, under a Ross Andru/Romeo Tanghal cover) where Green Lantern, Zatanna, Elongated Man and Flash were found wandering with amnesia by Jonah Hex, Cinnamon, Scalphunter and Bat Lash in 1870s Arizona.  The JLA enemy, the Lord of Time, had captured them and sent them there, to get them to focus an approaching meteor directed at the Grand Canyon, so he could use that to conquer his own era.

Superman, on monitor duty, found out the JLA members had disappeared from the now....but, in fighting a robot of the Lord of Time's in the Grand Canyon in the here and now....fell prey to a Kryptonite trap.

Grand Canyon Showdown

Gerry Conway, Don Heck and Brett Breeding concluded this time travel tale in Justice League of America #199 (February, 1982 under a George Perez cover), with the amnesiac heroes and westerners slowly headed towards a gathering in Desecration, Arizona (pursued by robotic cowboys of the Lord of Time).

With the westerners fighting the Lord of Time's robots, the JLA slowly regained their memories of their own identities and deflected the approaching meteor, with Superman returning the heroes to the modern day after figuring out a way to deflect the Kryptonite away and defeat the Lord of Time.

Cinnamon's appearance, never really explained, was either a manipulation by the Lord of Time or some unforseen pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths time paradox... Jonah Hex remembered this event during the Crisis On Infinite Earths, recognizing Green Lantern's outfit (John Stewart had replaced Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, but was dispatched by the Monitor to the old west) in a meeting with Bat Lash, Scalphunter and the western Johnny Thunder and Nighthawk as part of the Monitor's plans to save the Multiverse, as heroes found others to help fight the Anti-Monitor's Shadow Demons.

The Future

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths and a meeting with the Monitor, Jonah Hex found himself stranded in 2050 for a time (detailed in Hex), but had to eventually return to his right time to fight zombies, then later die (as that had already been predestined, with Hex finding his own body in the future during Hex).

Scalphunter had settled on being Brian Savage, becoming a sheriff of what would be Opal City, befriending the Shade, guiding the O'Dare's into law, fathering Steve Savage (the Balloon Buster of World War I, enemy of Enemy Ace), and having one last revenge filled time after losing most of his policing force, before his end (chronicled over many issues of James Robinson's Starman, which also dealt with his reincarnation as a current day O'Dare).

Bat Lash had headed towards the Far East, having tired of the Wild West...

....meeting the Enemy Ace, Slam Bradley, Miss Fear, Kung and Vandal Savage, in the 1920s,  fighting dinosaurs and Ninjas in one larger than life adventure.

Cinnamon was later revealed to be Kate Manser, who was a reincarnation of Chay-Ara (Hawkgirl) and worked with Nighthawk (Hannibal Hawkes, a reincarnation of Hawkman) during Geoff Johns' run of Hawkman.  A modern day Cinnamon, also a bounty hunter, has appeared, and is an agent of Checkmate.

All this, to keep the Wild West alive, even today, and a few other meetings of old west characters with modern DC characters will be the future!

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