When it comes to “The Sixth Gun,” Brian Hurtt’s primarily known as the artist of the series, although he’s co-written some of the spinoff miniseries. With “The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death” #1, he’s stepped into the writing seat solo, joined with artist A.C. Zamudio for a story set far in the past, before the Six have risen back up. However, that doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous of a setting, even without the cursed guns on the loose.
Hurtt operates under the premise that, even without the Six, death and corruption will enter the world ahead of it, and it’s a good springboard for this miniseries involving the native people of the Four Tribes. He keeps the comic moving at a good pace, introducing the lurking danger that threatens to destroy everything, even while treating the basic setup and characters as brand new. While I’m not entirely sure new readers would be jumping onto the line of comics this late (with only one final storyline in the main title remaining), it’s nonetheless an effort that I do appreciate.
That said, it’s the young White Wolf who should be carrying a lot of “The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death” #1, but he’s just not that interesting a protagonist here. He’s very generic, the warrior heading off to whichever battle needs to be fought, but so far there’s not much of a hook for him here. On the other hand, supporting characters like the slithery, fawning, extremely dangerous Kalfu manage to keep the book jumping; every time he appears, the reader needs to sit up and take notice. The other supporting character that works well is the Buzzard Wife, although — in this case — it has more to do with Zamudio’s visuals of the character. She’s little more than a plot device but, with her intricate headdress and her commanding presence, he makes her a force to be reckoned with. Zamudio’s art is good on the whole, a stripped down style that is the same vein as Hurtt’s without being identical to it. He and colorist Ryan Hill work best when they’re depicting landscapes and such; the gorgeous sunset bringing the valley into a reddish hue works perfectly here, both in setting a scene and also giving the reader a real sense of the landscape.
“The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death” #1 is perfectly fine, although I must admit that — at this point — I’m a little more eager to see “The Sixth Gun” main series return for the big final storyline. Still, as a little side step, it works. It’s not going to eclipse the primary title, but it’s not going to shame it, either; this storyline, so far, fits in nicely.