All-Star Western #12 was a rip-roarin' good time this week, because Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray let Tallulah Black loose on the Followers of the Crime Bible and all their punk-ass pocket-cops, and because Dr. Terrence Thirteen is a no-nonsense hardass for science.
What I thought was going to be a hunker-down-for-an-epic battle between the Court of Owls and the Followers of the Crime Bible turned out to be a one-more-and-done thing to tie up that Bible-Thumpage – which was probably conceived around the same time as the Court of Owls, but the latter took off to the moon, so it seems J&J may have said 'well, let's get rid of this bit of redundant business.' What better way to to take something apart than to sic Tallulah Black on it? That woman's crazier than a buzzard with a buzzsaw.
The CBers may have nabbed Jonah Hex and his reluctant sidekick Dr. Amadeus Arkham, but Black's flown the coop and they're scrambling to get after her. She hasn't flown too far, though, because when she gets her mind set on killin' somethin', ya damn well know it's gon' get kilt. Most of the issue is Black goin' hogwild on these polecats, and artist Moritat, whose work I've had problems with, does the best I've seen him do on this book. It's still not perfect, as his take on Black still looks way too young and spindly and her bell-bottoms are weird, but there are soem great bits of action – a shot of the Lord of Terror Stephen Kaoss running into a room, then cut to a mid-air axe from nowhere, cut to GUY'S HEAD FLYING OFF, cut to a shitload of gunshots and panic. It's entertaining as all hell, and when it really, really counts, such as the final confrontation with the Lord of Assassins seen above, Moritat finally makes Black's face look like an adult – the kind of surly-lookin' cuss she's supposed to be. Hair-behind-the-eyelash notwithstanding.
J&J hit on all notes, with the Black action, and Hex making deals with Batman's ancestor, and even Arkham gets some hilarious potshots in on the CBers. "Perverse aberrations such as yourselves are the reason societies and religions formed – to elevate us from the fecal-smearing superstitious savagery of our murderous ancestors!" There's nothing better than a well-formed intellectual put-down like that.
Speaking of guys who have no truck with superstition, the backup story featuring Dr. Terrence Thirteen is also pretty great, featuring Scott Kolins on the artwork. He's working with the local constabulary trying to track down a science criminal so capable that he has the police (also a cowardly and superstitious lot, it seems) convinced that he's a metaphysical nightmare given life. Dr. 13 will have none of that, and he doggedly bulls his way into tracking down the culprit with knowledge and taking him down singlehandedly. However, a tragic turn of events occurs in the apprehension of Jonathan Rood, and an innocent life is taken. Rood blames 13, but more intersting is 13's response – there's one stuttering moment of uncertainty, but then he clamps down hard on the notion of assuming guilt and ascribes it to Rood's poor choices. The last panel makes him look a bit more heartless, but that could just be sheer force of will expunging any responsibility from his mind. Either way, I want to know a lot more about this character, and I hope he comes back again soon.
Who doesn't give a damn about curses? Dr. Terrence Motherscratchin' Thirteen and his bitchin' stache, that's who.