Though “The Sixth Gun” was originally conceived as a six-issue miniseries, it quickly grew into so much more, spanning fifty issues and multiple spinoffs. With “The Sixth Gun” #50, Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt and Bill Crabtree finish ushering in the looming apocalypse, and it’s a strong and sharply crafted finale. That said, there’s something absent in this conclusion, and that keeps it from the dizzying near-perfection of earlier issues.
In many ways, “The Sixth Gun” #50’s ending was nearly impossible to avoid. After Grey Witch started the apocalypse a few issues ago, the title became less about averting the apocalypse and more about controlling it. Bunn has always had huge, expansive ideas about the history of the Six Guns and how they have always existed in different forms, and — here — all of the different universes being destroyed and reborn is a great example of that. “The Sixth Gun” is like the ultimate roleplaying game sourcebook, just bursting at the seams with possibilities, crazy ideas and surprises lurking around every corner for those ready to explore it.
Bunn and Hurtt make sure that the final confrontation in the netherworld is suitably cataclysmic, too. After all, whoever seizes control of the apocalypse can remake the universe — yet again — into whatever form they so choose. From the arming of the troops to the huge fight on Boot Hill, Bunn and Hurtt weave in a spirited fight. Hurtt draws the conflict in a lively manner, and there’s everything from towers bursting out of the ground to fights between massive wyrms and horse-headed death gods. When Becky makes the final choice, Hurtt etches sorrow and inevitability into her face, and you know what’s about to happen even before it all clicks into place. Bill Crabtree’s colors are an integral part of the book too, and he’s able to make his vivid color choices just as memorable as the quieter, softer tones used throughout the underworld.
It was almost impossible not to see this conclusion coming. After all, Bunn and Hurtt have been moving the series towards this ending for a while now — and yet, it’s more than a touch bitter. I appreciate that they stuck to their guns, but this cataclysmic ending is hard to get too enthusiastic about. It’s the story they wanted to tell and it’s executed very well, but it’s also an ending that won’t encourage readers to return to it, unlike some earlier stories that had real moments of bleakness. It’s the curse of a series that takes place in a universe forever tortured by the apocalypse that remakes it; the only proper ending won’t necessarily be a happy one. Still, Bunn, Hurtt and Crabtree have wrapped up the series in style, and I’m glad I got to see this conclusion. “The Sixth Gun” always unleashes imaginative creations on its readers, and this issue was no exception.