DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW Preview: Gunsmoke

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Of all of the characters in DC Comics, Jonah Hex has to be the one with the most convoluted history.  Given the retcons suffered by some of the DC characters, being the “most convoluted” is saying something.

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Debuting in the “All-Star Western” series, the magazine soon was retitled “Weird Western Tales” for apparent reasons.  A gunslinger with half of his face distorted by scar tissue is a little odd, but definitely not outside the realm of plausibility.

But when said gunfighter ends up fighting everything from a T-Rex to Stonewall Jackson, filing his story under “Weird Western Tales” seems fitting.

That being said, Hex was destined to get his own title, and the Jonah Hex series quickly became a fan favorite.

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A Confederate soldier, Jonah still managed to fight against slavery.  It would be interesting to know how many history majors got their first taste of the subject by reading Jonah Hex.

His interaction with Native Americans showing them as real people, not the faceless “bad guy Injuns” of the movies and his attempts to right the wrongs against the oppressed make him a hero in a world where racism seemed acceptable.

He also taught his readers that being a hero does not consist of being the best looking guy on the block.  His heroism comes from the heart, which wipes away the scarred exterior and gives hope to those who are insecure in their looks.  He maintains his own moral code, despite the prevailing ideas of the time.

But what we never knew about Jonah Hex was that he is friends with Rip Hunter.  When Rip and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow need a safe time and place to hide, they pilot the Waverider to an old west town named “Salvation.”  Why does it seem that there is little salvation to be found in Salvation?

There are a few things to note about this episode, “The Magnificent Eight.”  The title references the great John Sturges western, The Magnificent Seven, in which seven gunfighters ban together to defend a village that is the home of Mexican peasants.  If you have never seen it, rent it, even if you hate westerns.

Steve McQueen, grandfather of The Vampire Diaries’s Steven R. McQueen, heads a stellar cast, and the film is a westernized version of famed Japanese filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai.  Rent that one, too.

What does all of this have to do with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow?  Well, guess what group lands in Salvation, just as the town needs to be defended from an invading gang of outlaws…

If you really hate westerns, tune in for the peripherals.  Just as they did in the “Frontierland” episode of Supernatural, the costumers in Vancouver rock the western look with some of the finest duds that ever graced the Old West.

Dressed to perfection, each of the Legends gets the special costume treatment, and check out Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) in his finest “John Wayne” attire.

Also, be sure to check out the Rip Hunter gunfight.  Arthur Darvill looks like he was born to be a cowboy.  Who knew that a Brit could sling a gun like that?

By the time the episode is over, chances are that viewers who are unfamiliar with Jonah Hex will understand why DC chose to enable his travel through time, fighting beside the present-day Batman and with the Justice League.  Heroes need a moral compass, and there is no doubt that Jonah Hex is one of those guys.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow also stars Victor Garber, Caity Lotz, Ciara Renée, Franz Drameh, Amy Pemberton, Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell.

Johnathon Schaech guest stars as Jonah Hex, and Casper Crump returns as Vandal Savage.  Glen Gordon and Mike Kovac also guest star.

“The Magnificent Eight” was written by Executive Producers Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim (story) with the teleplay written by Marc Guggenheim.  Thor Freudenthal directed the episode.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs tonight (April 14) at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on The CW in the U.S.

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