With the conclusion of the first storyline of “The Sixth Gun” last month, there was a dangerous, worried voice in the back of my head. “What if the second storyline isn’t as good as the first?” it cautioned. “After all, this initial storyline could have just as easily served as a single mini-series, with nothing else to be added to it.” Fortunately, there was also a second voice which kept saying, “After six issues this strong, the seventh one will surely be just as good.”
Well, I might have multiple personality disorder based on the different voices in my head, but on the bright side I also have a dynamite seventh issue of “The Sixth Gun” that I just read.
When we last left our heroes, we weren’t quite at an “all’s well that ends well” moment. Becky still is bound to the Sixth Gun and its visions. Drake has inadvertently become bound to four of the other guns. Billjohn is dead and then raised once more as a mute golem. And the most dangerous and hard to defeat of the weapons is still on the loose in the hands of a madwoman. It’s not an ideal moment for any of our characters, even the ones who were lucky enough to still be alive when the dust settled.
What’s nice is that from here, Cullen Bunn continues to move the story forward, both in dealing what we’ve seen so far as well as adding in new pieces of the puzzle. The potential new addition to the cast (although he might just as easily turn out to be an adversary in disguise, knowing Bunn’s cleverness) comes across instantly likable, and there’s something about Kirby that makes me feel that we’ve got a lot of story lurking behind his eyes. We’ve got Drake’s descent into the mystical Crossroads to try and do something about the Six, and Bunn manages to simultaneously make it feel familiar and yet dramatically different at the same time. Honestly, if Bunn wanted to just write an encyclopedia around the supernatural aspects of “The Sixth Gun” I would read it all day with a big smile on my face. There’s enough inventiveness and coolness with each issue that it makes me that much more eager to see just what Bunn’s going to come up with next.
Best of all, we get another strong reminder that Becky is hardly a wilting flower that is in perpetual need of rescue (no more than anyone else here is), but rather a strong-willed character in her own right who will hardly back down from a bad situation. Even as an argument in a bar threatens to turn ugly, we see her reaching for her purse with the Sixth Gun inside, ready to make a stand. Becky and Drake are the characters who interest me the most here, and both of them are continuing to show additional sides and aspects to themselves with each new issue.
Brian Hurtt’s art is also as sharp as ever. There’s a great energy about his figures; when we get the gun fight, for instance, the man who was shot doesn’t just get launched backwards, it feels like he’s actually flying toward the reader. Or when Marinette Dry-Arms emerges from the bayou, her hunched over form has its own sense of movement, and that’s even before you can see some of the finer details about her, like the worms crawling in her mouth. From Becky’s poised form in her chair, to Drake slumped in the New Orleans graveyard, everyone looks and moves like their own individual character.
Hurtt pays just as much attention to the background as he does the foreground, mind you. Look at each panel, and you’ll see much more than a blank void behind them. In the duel scene, we’ve got bystanders, windows, lamps, even detail on people’s vests. Something as simple as the curl of a tongue ends up looking creepy rather than average, and it all goes toward the final, lush look of “The Sixth Gun” that drags you into its pages.
“The Sixth Gun” just keeps getting better, and this issue is no exception. Bunn and Hurtt have created a modern comic book classic for us to read, month after month. I love that I never know quite what to expect, other than it delivering a satisfying dose of entertainment. If you’re not reading “The Sixth Gun” you’re missing out on one of the best series of the year. Check it out.