Story: Michael Fleisher; Art: Rich Buckler; Inks: Dick Giordano & Friends; Letterist: Ben Oda; Colorist: Bob Lerose; Cover: Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano; Editor: Larry Hama
Jonah Hex 11, April 1978
Title: The Holdout!
In “The Holdout!” Jonah unmasks a card cheat named Preston who’s using a holdout device to palm cards. (A holdout device is similar to the device Jim West from The Wild Wild West used to have for his hidden sleeve derringer. See scan, because words, they fail me.) This leads to Jonah shooting several people in self-defense, but not Preston the card cheater, who now wants revenge and not only because Jonah decides to keep the holdout as a souvenir. But first, Jonah’s old flame, Joanna Mosby, from Jonah Hex 4 shows up and is still in love with him. But before she can declare/explain/recap anything, Jonah is knocked unconscious by one of Preston’s men and tied up so Preston can break both his hands with a sledgehammer. Joanna gets to watch all this, unable to scream or run for help, but does get Jonah to a doctor when the bad guys leave and spends the night with him, bandaged hands and all. The next day, broken carpal, metacarpal bones or whatever, Jonah cuts his fingers free of their bandages, takes the holdout and goes out to make a Jim West-type hidden sleeve derringer device because Preston said if Jonah was still around when he got back, he’d kill him. So when Preston comes back, Jonah shoots the men with him, and Joanna shoots Preston, and then he shoots her. She dies in Jonah’s arms.
“The Holdout!” makes me wonder why these titles have exclamation points. Was it mandatory? I had trouble with this story because I found it incredible that a device for palming cards would be strong enough to support the weight of a derringer. Jonah seems a little out of character because he had very little motivation to expose the card cheat and start a fight. This seems to me to be the kind of situation Jonah of the WWT run would just ignore. I’m not a doctor, but Jonah must have an amazingly high pain threshold to move his fingers, even if he could move them with broken hands. I mean, based on what supposedly happened to him, there’d be tendon, muscle and cartilage damage as well as broken bones. But I’m not a hand surgeon, so I don’t really know, but I found Jonah’s range of post-injury motion incredible and distracting due to that. Love interest survival: low. Jonah never quite trusts Joanna because she did sell him out in Jonah Hex 4, but now that she’s dead, I suppose he can stop worrying about it. Body count: medium, Jonah kills five, Joanna shoots Preston, and Preston kills her. (Hey, didn’t that just happen with Estrellita and El Papagayo in Jonah Hex 10?) Cover luridness: low; cover information: medium. Letters: there are no letters in this issue. Darn.