As someone who’s been a fan of “The Sixth Gun” right from the start, I’ll admit that I’ve never been particularly interested in the backstory of supporting character Billjohn O’Henry. He was a character who got much more interesting after he died and turned into a creepy, mute, looming mud golem. Nonetheless, “The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust” #1 kicks off a mini-series telling the history of O’Henry, courtesy Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. With not much of a lure to learn about O’Henry, Bunn and Crook don’t quite have anything big enough to draw people into reading this book.
The issue is, by no means, a bad comic — it’s curiously average — but, with O’Henry himself hardly being a character compelling enough to buy a spin-off miniseries based on his name alone, it’s a tiny bit perplexing why this comic is showing up. Bunn’s script for this first issue follows O’Henry as he plies his trade as a bounty hunter, tricking a gang and then slaughtering those who resist. It’s a clever bit of deception on O’Henry’s part, but there’s not such a strong hook that it makes you want to read more about the character.
That trend continues throughout the book, as we meet his family and then have one of the main characters of “The Sixth Gun” make an appearance as well, reminding us of their link prior to the start of the parent series. From start to finish, however, this script is by the numbers; there’s no particular spark, no moment that’s so instantly clever that you want to immerse yourself in this world. That’s frustrating, because Bunn delivers that month in and month out on “The Sixth Gun” ongoing series. For whatever reason, this comic just doesn’t have Bunn’s normal energy.
Similarly, I loved Crook’s art on “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth,” but here it’s just average. He works well with colorist Bill Crabtree and it’s an overall very clean and expressive style but, once again, there’s not enough to jump out at the reader and make you want to buy this solely for the art. The closest we get to an exception on that front are four panels scattered throughout the comic that are rendered in a blurry, painted style that give glimpses of O’Henry’s future; I’m not sure if Crook, Crabtree or the duo together created them, but they are visually interesting. That said, it’s also literally just a scattering of panels throughout the comic; it’s fun when they appear, but not quite the hook that’s needed.
I love “The Sixth Gun,” but “The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust” #1 is a comic by the numbers. I expect something a little more exciting and wondrous from both this series and the creators involved. In the end, it struggles to do anything out of the ordinary, and that’s a real shame. In a difficult market, just-average simply can’t cut it for long.