My near superhero free week of comic reviews continues with a book that has been around before, and is coming around again. If working in video production for the last 15 years has taught me anything, is that it takes more than once for someone to pay attention to the message. I’m paying attention now.
LIKE DEADWOOD, BUT WITH GHOSTS
When the Civil War was coming to an end, a group of nogoodniks terrorized the land with six guns that seem to be so evil that nothing could stop the wielders. Their leader, The General, was eventually taken down, the guns scattered, only to live on in rumors and myths. But those in the know want the guns back, and this issue introduces Pinkertons, walking ghouls, the spirits of those condemned to death, cowboys, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
As a first chapter, there is a fair amount of confusion as the reader needs to pay careful attention to all the little clues and pieces of information scattered through the issue to get a glimpse at the bigger picture. When one recognizes there is more than one gun the players are after, the story suddenly becomes a race to see who can get which gun, and how many of them, first. Bunn wisely decided to have some of the guns already in the hands of some of the characters, and it looks like the big fight will revolve around… wait for it… the sixth gun.
The idea of magic and the supernatural flourished during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but when the first atomic bomb was dropped, those beliefs seemed to die, as the atomic age forced the mumbo jumbo of a strange and mysterious into the realm of the crazies. While we do see some magic based stories set in present day, they don’t have the same power or impact as those stories set in the right period. Sure, it may seem strange to have the supernatural serve as the central theme in a western, but Bunn and Hurtt have captured that quite well in this opening issue.
You won’t see any cowboys wearing tassels on their jackets, or sparkly stars on their boots. Instead, Brian Hurtt’s pen and inks make this story really feel like a western. The supernatural elements are there, but they feel like a natural part of the story instead of something shoehorned in to the book.
BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT
It took me a long time to begin to accept the western genre as something that offered more than John Wayne searching for a missing child through a land scattered with racial stereotypes, or Gary Cooper squinting his eyes as he squared off against the bad guys of the world. With television series like Deadwood, and well done movies that really capture the look and feel of the time period, my interest has been piqued enough to want to explore how creators can twist the genre. The Sixth Gun could easily have been set in the slums of some urban sprawl, or some far off planet where the charm of this first issue would lose a lot of its punch. If you like westerns like Jonah Hex, I’m going to bet you’ll get a kick out of The Sixth Gun, and recommend you pick up a copy. It’s a solid enough story once things begin to pick up speed, and the art is well done, earning the issue 4 out of 5 Stars.