Since the beginning of the New 52, All Star Western has been a romp of a comic to read. It's got some good story telling, but the heart of the matter has always been the characterization of Jonah Hex and his cast as a fun, humorous, and action packed series. Going on to volume 3, thankfully, the series continues all of that, but loses a little something this time around.
ALL STAR WESTERN VOL.3: THE BLACK DIAMOND PROBABILITY collects issues issues #13 - 16, and #0 (Amazon has a wrong description. It does not collect issues #17 and #18). Jonah Hex and company are back in Gotham to round up a formula from Dr. Jekyll that's gotten lost and now it's being produced as medicine. Just so happens Haley's Circus is in town as well, and that same medicine is making its rounds and making people crazy. Hex is going to have to fight his out of this one, even if it means fighting the one being who wants the formula most: Mr. Hyde.
Volume 3 runs heavy on action and sly humor then the previous two volumes, which those two had plenty of to begin with. The story arc is very straight forward in what and how Hex and company want. Really there isn't a whole lot of plot this time around compared to the first volumes. An old character from one of the backup stories does play a prominent role this time around (assuming you read the backup stories from previous books). And playing with historical fiction, we get Jekyll being the good doctor who hates his curse, and his alter ego Hyde who wants to wreck chaos. But again, the characters are still fun to read and watch, especially issue #16 where we get a fairly deep character piece on the mind of Jonah Hex. And the #0 issue goes over all of Hex's origins and he's had one cutthroat lifestyle since his birth. You want to know why he's so tough, smart, and one heck of a dangerous man? This will show you. And for older fans, much of Hex's origins stay in tact pre-52 in Jonah Hex: Origins (All Star Western) (even much of the same panel shots are the same).
The back stories this time around is about Tomahawk, a vengeful American Indian who is fighting back the American's and British during the American Revolution. I thought this was okay, but it's still good, seeing as it fits perfectly with the Bronze Age of comics in writing and presentation.
The art continues with Moritat again doing a rough, sketchy, and gritty art style that matches the tone of the book. In this day and age of fill-in artist, Moritat hasn't missed an issue on art yet. If there is anything he does improve upon in this volume is the horror effect with Mr. Hyde. And the backup stories are drawn by Phil Winslade's art matches the Bronze Age style of art with great detail.
While I loved the first two volumes and enjoyed this third volume, I didn't quite enjoy this as much as I liked. I think because the overall story is very straight forward in itself. Nothing wrong with it, but I felt like it didn't do much in terms of character driven moments or twist and turns. And some parts of it felt like it sped along. Like Dr. Jekyll appears only once, then we don't see him again to understand his turmoil. And a certain character just walks away without much reasoning to believe, as well as an ending that just seems a little too nice and wrapped up. The whole arc felt like it was lacking something I can't quite pin-point. Or maybe I am tired of Hex staying in Gotham. This is the 1880's, so I do wish Hex explore that time period around the old DC Universe more. I would like to see him visit old west Metropolis, Coast City, Central City stuff like that.
Regard, ALL STAR WESTERN VOL.3: THE BLACK DIAMOND PROBABILITY is still an action packed series with great characters, humor, a deeper insight on Hex's complex personality, good art, and a pretty good #0 issue. But something about this arc felt lacking, either it be the sudden departure of a character, the lack of the story itself, over usage of action, the lack of Dr. Jekyll perspective, the ending, or that Hex is still in Gotham where I wish he explore more of the old west DCU. I'm giving this volume a 3 1/2 score out of 4 stars, but round up to 4 stars because I still enjoyed this book and this series. We'll see some game changing moments in the next volume that I'm sure things will pick up with another DC character pops in, All Star Western Vol. 4: Gold Standard (The New 52).