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Friday, September 10, 2010

You Should be Reading: The Sixth Gun

I've been looking for books that could fill the void of Marvel and DC in my pull list, what with their lackluster showings and altogether lazy approach to storytelling these days. It was then that I heard of a book coming out called The Sixth Gun, a supernatural western title from Oni Press. I was desperate for anything that isn't superhero soap opera, so I picked this up on a whim.

Oh whim, remind me to take you out on a dinner date sometime.

Follow me as I review the first four issues of this amazing series and learn why you should be reading this book right now.


The Sixth Gun #1 introduces Drake Sinclair, a no-nonsense man in search of the eponymous gun. Unfortunately, another altogether shady group is after the same gun too, and when the Sixth Gun is found in the hands of Becky the preacher's daughter, it's not only hell that breaks loose. A Confederate madman is unearthed from his tomb and is dead (hah!) set at retrieving his 'property' (i.e., the Sixth Gun) no matter the cost!

Writer Cullen Bunn seems to be one of the rare types of writers that can balance action, character moments and story in such an effortless way. Seriously, it's like he's showing off. Right off the bat we get a satisfying glimpse of a world where gunslingers mix it up with the supernatural, coupled with small character moments that give you more insight into the characters than pages and pages of text.

Brian Hurtt's art sets the standard for issues to come. I like his simple, cartoony style, and it fits the story pretty good. Character designs are cool, the bad guys look downright menacing, and the style makes the action a bit more frenetic. Good stuff all around.

And did I mention the priests kicking ass with Gatling guns?


Gotcha.

I've said time and again that a good first issue should be accessible to new readers and must have that 'hook' that gets people buying the next issue. This #1 has all that and more, which is the reason why I was more than happy to buy The Sixth Gun #2.


The second issue points the spotlight at the bad guys (as much as they probably hate the spotlight) as the big bad General Bedford Hume is reunited with his motley crew of hoodlums while Sinclair sets off to rescue Becky from the clutches of Hume's insane wife.

Again Cullen Bunn displays his strengths, with the story unfolding exactly as it should. Nothing is decompressed here, nothing hurried, the story beats falling into place like the best game of Tetris ever. We get a little bit more info about the magical guns, with one of them being able to summon spirits to do your bidding while another makes the wielder see visions of the past and the immediate future. It's those kinds of trivia that gets me hooked. What do the other guns do? What's in store once the Sixth Gun is found? You bet your ass I'll be buying the next issue to find out.

Not to mention we get a good ol' fashioned bar fight as only Brian Hurtt can render. And boy can he render.


This is my second favorite issue out of everything released so far, as the saloon showdown in this ish is worth the cover price alone.


It gets meatier in The Sixth Gun #3, where we learn about the history of big bad Bedford Hume and story behind the magical guns. Sinclair, his friend Billjohn and Becky try to get as far away from General Hume as possible, as they lay a deadly trap for the crazy General who's right on their tail!

This issue is a little bit more over the top than the last two episodes. Okay, maybe even more over the top than anything you've seen so far. Even if you can accept the concept of cursed guns and bloodthirsty Confederates coming back to life to raise hell on earth, you still won't be ready for the surprises Bunn lays out for you here. I especially love how Bunn manages to ratchet up the tension by introducing a hidden threat in the shadows, letting the characters react to the mystery and impending doom around them, and you can't help but be as scared as they are. That's good reading right there.

And for those who wanted to see Hurtt really stretch his penciling muscles, you won't be disappointed here. As the chase takes our heroes and villains out in the open, Hurtt gives us sprawling desert and majestic rock formations worthy of an Arizona postcard.


If you're itching for some more of those, look no further than The Sixth Gun #4, which came out this week. This time, it's our heroes that get thrown into the loop. Dark pasts are uncovered, the kind of pasts that make girls like Becky make like a tree and hightail it outta Dodge...unfortunately, straight into the waiting arms of General Hume!

Bunn takes this opportunity to showcase Becky and General Hume, who up until now were generic damsel in distress and crazy old coot characters, respectively. Becky gets a few levels in badass, defiant in the face of death at the hands of flay-happy General Hume. And when a raging mad Thunderbird is causing hell for his troops, Hume throws out the old geezer routine and raises his sword high in a staredown with a primordial beast that gets even Mrs. Hume all hot and bothered! Brian Hurtt keeps up with Bunn's storytelling, knocking it down page after page, with face-rocking splash pages and kinetic action sequences that just immerses you in all the madness. This is easily my most favorite issue, and I like that if this keeps up, the next issue could be my next favorite of them all.


In four issues we know about the characters, the setting and the history of The Sixth Gun better than any mainstream comic, and Bunn and Hurtt leaves just enough out to reel you into this crazy tale. If you're looking for a book with an interesting premise by a creative team competent enough to not just make it work but to blow your minds out, The Sixth Gun is for you. The Sixth Gun #4 is out this week, and it's pretty easy to pick up the earlier issues. Trust me, the search is worth it. Highly recommended!

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