In comics, the Wild West was also a place where some pretty wild stuff would happen. Wild and weird. Weird like, supernatural.
That’s the West in Oni Press’ The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt.
The Sixth Gun is the most powerful of 6 pistols that are blessed (or cursed) with mysterious powers. Sometime after the Civil War the gun was lost, but it eventually returns to the world in the hands of a young woman, Becky Montcrief, and now that the gun is back, those who seek it’s power are back also, and they will do anything to retrieve the gun. The only thing that stands between them and Becky is Drake Sinclair, a man with a dark and mysterious past of his own.
The latest issue, #20 hit the stands this past week. It’s part three of “A Town Called Penance”. While I don’t normally like to join a story arc in the middle, I have recently rediscovered my joy of Old West tales, and decided to check it out.
Bunn’s story is very accessible. While the characters are a bit “stock” for western fair, they all have a surprise or two tucked away under their ten gallon hats. There is plenty of moral ambiguity in Penance, a city that lives up to it’s name. Everyone in Penance probably wound up there because of some wrong in their past that left them no other options. It’s a sad situation really that can only get worse with the presence of a object like the Sixth Gun on hand.
Brian Hurtt’s illustrations, with Bill Crabtree on colors are richly realized. The natural and supernatural exist in this world side by side, with a palette of browns and blues, punctuated by the sharp reds. The red of Becky’s hair, the red of the mystic symbols on the gun, and the red of the blood. I found the y struck just the right balance between grotesque and gruesome. Harsh enough to show the hardships of life in that world, but not so much to take you out of it when something extraordinary happens.
In the four color world of superheroes, Westerns have not had much success. But the genre has gotten a boost of lat and with the support of an indie publisher like Oni Press, this book should continue for some time.
My Score – 8.5 of 10