Friday, August 5, 2011

Diego Chi on THE SIXTH GUN VOL. 1 - Cold Dead Fingers

The Sixth Gun, Vol. 1 – COLD DEAD FINGERS
Review by Diego Chi

WRITER: Cullen Bunn
ARTIST: Brian Hurtt
ISBN: 978-1934964606; paperback
160pp, B&W, $19.99 U.S.

Who doesn’t like a good, old-fashioned Western? The freedom of the open range, the sound of hooves at a full gallop, mystical guns, spirits and zombies– hold on, what? At least, that’s the type of Western Cullen Bunn (The Damned, Fear Itself: The Deep) and Brian Hurtt (Queen & Country, The Damned) envisioned in their creator-owned series, The Sixth Gun. Fresh off the heels of an Eisner nomination for Best New Series, Best Writer, and Best Artist (not to mention a recent deal to become a SyFy series), the Sixth Gun series is worth a closer look.

Described as a Western horror story, Bunn creates an engrossing world of mysticism and legend surrounding six magical revolvers. These guns are sought after by former Confederate General Hume, who leads a band of vicious scoundrels (including his wife), and by Drake Sinclair, whose motivation for getting involved remains a mystery. Caught in the middle is Becky Montcrief, daughter of a preacher who possesses one of the six guns. The story sets off at a fast pace and continues all the way through the climactic final battle at the end of the volume.

Cullen Bunn’s revitalization of the Western genre is engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable. The plot is thick with mystery and riddled with subtle revelations that keep the reader engaged. Though Becky is the catalyst that begins the course of events, her character felt underdeveloped, at least in this arc. This is in stark contrast to Drake Sinclair, who plays the role of anti-hero. His interesting character revelations seem to demand your attention. General Hume is a cruel and sinister adversary, really centralizing the evil and terror in the story. The goose bumps caused by Hume are only second to his extremely creepy wife (for the mettle of a man is truly revealed in his choice of woman). However, the secondary villains in this arc seem to come and go fairly quickly, which is somewhat disappointing as many held promise of being great long-term foes. While the plot events sometimes overshadow the character development, Bunn clearly proves he knows how to take an old fashioned genre and revamp it into a great story-telling platform.

Brian Hurtt fills the pages of the Sixth Gun with enough action to match a Clint Eastwood movie. His drawings feel well paced and fluid to couple character expression alongside massive gunfights. The coloring is vivid and really brings Bunn’s vision to life. His character designs are a bit cartoony, but perhaps that is to emphasize the horror elements. Hurtt creates some pretty disturbing panels throughout (keep an eye out for some gruesome deaths and resurrections), though the art does not evoke terror so much as mystery and suspense, especially for a self-proclaimed “Horror-Western.” Still, there is clearly synergy between Bunn and Hurtt in their storytelling– which should be no surprise since they worked together before on another Oni Press title, The Damned.

The Sixth Gun is a very pleasurable read from start to finish. It’s a lot of fun, filled with action, and the supernatural elements feel surprisingly at home in the Wild West. Bunn and Hurtt present a strong launch to their series, leaving high expectations for what is to come. Definitely put these guys in your pull list.

Diego Chi is a guest writer.

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