Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Comics You Should Read: The Sixth Gun

I like westerns. A TON. I also like comic books. Oh, and I like supernatural horror weirdness in my west (like Deadlands, although I dig "regular" westerns a ton, too). SO...this months entry in Comics You Should Read is a supernatural western known as The Sixth Gun by Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun, a noted, is a supernatural western, written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Brian Hurtt. Set in the Civil War, The Sixth Gun focuses on six mystical weapons (currently in the form of guns...shocking, right?) recently in the hands of (undead) General Hume and his psychotic hoodlums. However, young Becky Montcrief gains possession of the Sixth Gun and joins forces with a gunslinger named Drake Sinclair to attempt to keep Hume from being resurrected and the six guns from being brought back together. 19 issues are currently available (I've read the first 17).

In the first arc, General Hume's wife and her Pinkerton agents are trying to bring her husband back and reunite the six guns, while Drake Sinclair is trying to find the General's treasure...and crosses paths with Becky Montcrief, who inherits the sixth gun from her father. Becky, Drake, Billjohn, Gord and their allies wind up in a war with Hume, his wife and his four horsemen (cliched, yes) into the pit known as The Maw, where Drake discovers that some "treasures" should probably stay buried. The first arc is a pitch-perfect build to an amazing climax that could easily have ended the book and it would have been an amazing miniseries worth sitting on any bookshelf...

...but they kept going.

And it got better.

In the second arc, we learn more about the mythology of the setting, and Drake deals with the fallout of his actions at the battle at The Maw while Becky finds herself flirting with a handsome stranger and a gang of thieves come looking for the six guns...and we learn even more about their true power and potential. Our heroes have to deal with a loa and her bokkor even as an unconventional order of priests come a-knockin'.

In the third arc, we find out more about Gord's past and the Sixth Gun's powers while Drake Sinclair goes missing after a train robbery (carrying the sleeping corpse of General Hume) is attacked by undead robbers and he has to deal with a mummy who was mentioned all the way back in issue #1.

Cullen Bunn is a fantastic writer, weaving a western tale that is both familiar and has its own spin on the "weird west". It is no surprise at all to me that he's garnering more and more attention (he's taking over the Captain America &... book, and Sixth Gun has apparently been optioned as a series for SyFy). Brian Hurtt is one of those artists that, when you see his work, you don't immediately go "wow"...until you see his storytelling. This book SHINES because both the writing and the art are weaving an epic western tale.

Incidentally, I picked up this book on Comixology (where the first issue is free) and the digital conversion is amazing, perhaps enhancing the story flow even more. For instance, in the second arc the servants of the bokkor were stalking our heroes and the panel by panel approach had me on the edge of my seat in the way that having the full page in front of me never would have.

17 issues is hard to make an "all-time" judgement (unless that IS the whole story, and in this case it is not), but thus far The Sixth Gun has proven to be - issue for issue - one of the very best books I am currently reading and Bunn and Hurtt have done a fantastic job thus far of shaking it up as they go, giving me little doubt that they'll carry it on as long as they want to.

If you're a Deadlands fan, certainly, buy this book.