Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spotlight: The Sixth Gun

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Brian Hurtt
Company: Oni Press

Supernatural.  Western.  Two genres that while different, oddly enough, when put together work hand in hand to create something new.  This is shown to be true in the pages of The Sixth Gun, a book that bleeds both genres together in an unnatural comic book peanut butter and jelly sandwich to form something that is unique, interesting, and unforgettably captivating.  The same creative team of The Sixth Gun were also responsible for another title, a book named The Damned.  When The Damned came out, I was hooked immediately by it's Prohibition Era Monster tale and found Bunn's characters to be full of life.  The Sixth Gun's premise/story and its characters are equally as intriguing, but what makes it stand out from
its predecessor is that the execution is more refined, leading to more heights of awesomeness.

The fast paced, good (and sometimes grey) versus evil story of The Sixth Gun revolves, as you might imagine, around six guns.  Each one grants the bearer of said gun a special ability and are essentially evil creations that are meant to bring about the end times.  Seems dire, which it is and should be, but not everything is pitch black and gloomy.  The huge cast of characters, be them good or evil, often add moments of levity and are used to great effect to endear them to the reader and to tell the story.  I was actually unsure of where writer Cullen (Fear Itself The Deep/The Tooth) Bunn would eventually take this story after the first arc, which sees our main characters take on a ruthless Civil War general named Hume that wants to bring about said apocalypse, but he has time and time again shown the possibilities that this world he has created has.

Going back to the characters, standing out in the front of the pack are our two protagonists, Drake Sinclair and Becky Montcrief.  Drake is the anti-hero and much of the time, especially throughout the first trade, is a mystery.  Again, it's a character formula we've seen before but Bunn does well with it and makes Sinclair very likable from the get-go.  It's also interesting that his motives are not completely known.  We know that he was involved with allowing for great reveals as the story goes on.  Becky Montcrief, who is the step-daughter of a previous "gun" owner, is the person that the reader can most identify with.  We're in the same boat that she is and as she learns about the guns and the world that they are running around it, we are too.  She's also a well-rounded character that doesn't back down, but rolls with the punches.  That she's an ever evolving character is a great feature.  In truth, there are no characters anywhere in The Sixth Gun that seem one-dimensional or aren't fleshed out in some way, everyone gets some screen time.  And besides character moments, there is some crazy action going on in this book.  Whether or not said action involves an army of ravenous undead to giant crocodile monsters to demons, there is something for everyone.

Drawing said insanity is talented artist Brian (Queen & Country) Hurtt.  He does handle a plethora of material here, things that you could see in B.P.R.D. while also throwing down some masterful traditional Western gunslingers.  He handles it all in stride and makes it all rather stunning.  The first trade really does focus on Hume and Sinclair and you get some detailed battle scenes and huge splash pages.  Hurtt does a great job of capturing the scope of the story.  He also has a great sense of design for the characters.  The second arc of the story, which is a much quieter affair and focuses on a creepy New Orleans centric tale is just as good.  He injects that sense of malice and dread into the swamps and the murky cityscapes with ease and it pulls the reader into the work so easily.

With an ever evolving plot that leads to the exploration of the bowls of both the Supernatural and Western genres, I can't wait to see what Bunn and Hurt come up with.  It's refreshing, creepy, and downright fun.  In other words, The Sixth Gun continues to do everything right.

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