The Sixth Gun #31

Story by
Art by
Brian Hurtt
Colors by
Bill Crabtree
Letters by
Douglas E. Sherwood
Cover by
Oni Press

In other lesser hands, I can't help but think that "The Sixth Gun" #31 could have felt like filler. Last month's issue kicked off the storyline "Ghost Dance," and by the end of it Becky was lost in the Spirit World with her guide dead and skinwalkers attacking her. It would have been easy, after all, to just have an issue with her running for her life. But of course that's not what Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt serve up here. Instead "The Sixth Gun" #31 feels like another important, critical part of the series.

It would have been easy for Bunn to leave the idea that the Six can reshape the world (and that it's happened before) dangling for years after we first learned of their awesome power. Instead, "The Sixth Gun" #31 directly follows up on that revelation, showing not only an earlier form from before they were guns, as well as just what those other, since-rewritten worlds looked like. What's fun is that Bunn teases out that information throughout this comic; it's never an info dump, but instead it sneaks in when you're least expecting it.

Bunn also understands that too much of something can be a bad thing; the strange, dangerous Spirit World could come across a bit too much if the entire issue was devoted to Becky's travels through it, so we also get a lot of this issue set in the real world. From a petrified head whose spirit possesses its wearer to a swarm of bees that can guide our heroes to the villains, there are once again more inventive and crazy ideas in a single issue of "The Sixth Gun" than most comics have over their entire run. The mixture of western, fantasy, and horror works so well here that it makes me feel like Bunn could keep this book going for all eternity, even as it marches towards an eventual conclusion.

Hurtt's art is also excellent as ever. The little character moments -- Drake's stunned look when he's told about the bees, Kirby's bewilderment with Screaming Crow's possessing of Nidawi, Becky's shock when she finds herself in another reality -- are all rendered perfectly. Then add in the big beautiful moments, like the massive tree inside the teepee with its hanging bonfires and runes painted onto it, the Great Wheel spinning in the night sky, or the big final two-page splash, and it's a reminder that he can handle big and majestic too. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if "The Sixth Gun" shows up in big oversized hardcovers to show off Hurtt's art, I will cheerfully buy copies the second they hit the shelves.

"The Sixth Gun" #31 is another fantastic issue in a great series. Bunn and Hurtt's collaboration is rapidly becoming the stuff of legend here; they've raised the bar on what it means to create a western/horror comic. Seriously, people; you need to read this comic.

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