As a Western Slope Coloradan and a dyed in the wool Southwesterner I like my cowboy stories. But I was very hesitant about this item - a graphic novel, lots of fantasy, magic and cursed folderol. It had the potential to be pretty lame, and to subvert those cowboy staples that keep the genre running.
Well guess what? This is a totally interesting enterprise. Damsel in distress, mysterious stranger with a shady past, evil villain, equally evil gunmen henchmen. It's all there. And all the cursed gun, living dead, immortal bad guy stuff has been worked into the story so smoothly that it slipped right in, naturally, with the cowboying. Heck, our hero's visit to the lynching tree was worth the price of admission right there.
And the graphic work hits that sweetspot between clearly drawn and too over-the-top. Sharp and colorful, with a lot of energy, but restrained when it needs to be, and always in service to the story.
So, I'm a convert. I don't pretend to be a master of either graphic novels or westerns, but if you're at all interested in sampling either, this seems like an attractive possible choice.
on 29 July 2013
Post-Civil War America, the Old West. Missy Hume, a menacing woman with mysterious motives, hires Pinkerton agents to track down a valuable gun which belonged to her late husband General Oliander Hume, currently in the possession of a preacher. But the gun falls into the hands of the preacher's daughter, Becky Montcrief, who discovers the gun has supernatural powers and imprints itself to the first person who wields it after its previous owner passes - in other words, only she can use this strange gun. And bad people are after her.
Meanwhile, treasure hunter Drake Sinclair finds Becky before the newly resurrected General Hume and his gang of outlaw horrors do, all of whom possess a gun with magical powers. Drake and Becky must gain control of all six guns to keep the mad General from unleashing an unspeakable danger into the world.
Volume 1 of the Sixth Gun series, Cold Dead Fingers, opens up like a gunslinger emptying his barrel in a duel - the action and characters come shooting out in quick succession. Cullen Bunn does a great job of getting the story going quickly and keeps the momentum up throughout the book, introducing you to characters and their world seamlessly. And while the chase story in the Western genre has been done to death, it really works well here because of the horror element thrown into the mix.
Bunn sets the scene nicely giving the book the convincing atmosphere of the Old West with town names like Brimstone and a cast that include the likes of preachers, cathouse owners, Pinkerton agents, and Civil War castoffs. He also subverts Western staples with the horror angle so that when the familiar sight of a hanging tree is introduced, it turns out to be an oracle where the hanged souls are forever bound but can see the future.
Also, the iconic six-shooters that are required for every Western become something other in this book. They're still weapons but are super-powered weapons. The six guns have six individual powers, such as one gun that has the power of a cannon, so when fired it has the impact of a cannonball instead of an ordinary bullet. Or the gun with the power of pestilence, rotting the flesh of everything its bullets touch.
Brian Hurtt's art in the book is really pretty. Cartoony in appearance at first glance, Hurtt believably conjures up the horrors on the page, drawing action really well and getting the period costumes and settings right. He draws both genres in this book superbly.
The Sixth Gun is a perfect mash-up of western and horror wrapped up into a highly entertaining comic. Where does the series go next? I don't know but after this excellent start, I'm saddled up for more!
Picked up this on whim -- well, really based on the cover art, which promised a fun action-packed Weird West adventure. The book delivers on the promise, throwing the reader straight into a full-on pulp tale about a race to locate the titular gun, the missing one in set of magical pistols. There's a mysterious and not-altogether-nice stranger looking for them, along with a fairly ruthless set of Pinkerton agents hired by a mysterious bordello mistress. But before long, they are joined by an undead Confederate General, rescued from his exile by a band of truly creepy evil henchmen. And of course, soon enough, there's a female to be rescued, a colorful sidekick joining the party, with guest appearances from the Thunderbird and various undead creatures. The mix of magic, horror, and post Civil War wild west elements are blended in just the right proportion for a rollicking read. The artwork is lively and detailed, with great colors that manage to convey the dark tone without getting murky or muddy. It'd make a great basis for a TV series, or maybe a role-playing game, but as much fun as it is, one volume was probably enough for me for now.