The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun TPB (Oni)

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Rating:  4.5/5 – A look at the men with the other 5 guns.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Jeff Bouchard.

The Sixth Gun, a horror/western mash-up by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, depicts the exploits of Drake Sinclair and Becky Montcrief as they protect a powerful magical weapon – The Sixth Gun, from falling into the wrong hands.  The Sixth Gun is aptly named because there are six of these powerful weapons, with the Sixth being the most powerful but the other five guns possess extraordinary abilities and are wielded by some of the foulest characters.  These characters are the focus of the miniseries The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun, collecting the 5 issue mini-series.

The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun goes deeper into the backstories of General Hume’s army with each issue focusing on the likes of “Bloodthirsty” Bill Sumter holder of the First Gun, Will Arcane, keeper of the Second Gun, “Filthy” Ben Kinney wielder of the Third Gun and Silas “Bitter Ridge” Hedgepeth, possessor of the Fourth Gun.

The creative team on The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun remains mostly intact from the main series but Brian Hurtt shifts over from his normal art duties to share writing credits with Cullen Bunn.  Brian Churilla (The Anchor) handles the art duties with Bill Crabtree on colors and Douglas E. Sherwood and Ed Brisson (Sheltered) splitting the lettering responsibilities.

The first thing I noticed…or rather didn’t notice at first is the art.  Hurtt’s art on the main series is wonderful and Churilla’s art on Sons of the Gun is very similar to Hurtt’s, so much that you might not notice the change in artists at first if not for some slight differences in style.  Churilla carries the high quality of art on through to this miniseries and his thin, strong lines, expressive characters and ability to detail the macabre and gruesome mesh not only with the content of the story well but also with Crabtree’s colors which have ample room to breathe and seem to jump of the page in some scenes.

One of the biggest concerns with any book centered on a villain or group of villains is the accessibility of the stories to readers. For the most part these characters are not likable, they are villains for a reason and their depravity and ruthlessness doesn’t necessarily lend itself to readers clamoring for more.  This is where Bunn and Hurtt excel and why this book is so enjoyable.  The writers give you glimpses into the backstories of these men who readers have only seen as followers of General Hume and they humanize them, pulling you into their histories and making you almost care about them.  By doing so you become invested in them and their motivations and you tiptoe this line between understanding their actions and finding them to be some of the worst examples that humanity has to offer.

One example of this and a high point in the miniseries for me comes in Chapter Two with the story of Ben Kinney with a portion of the chapter narrated by the love letters he writes to Claire, a woman who he longs to be with but due to his appearance, must admire from a distance.  This story pulls you in and shows you a side of Ben that is not seen in the main series.  As with most things in the book, from Ben’s interactions with Claire to the eerie visit home by Will Arcane, things never end well.  The seldom do when any of the six guns are around.

Are Hume’s men simply evil or are they pawns in a larger game, helpless puppets that are being moved to the whims of General Hume and the bloodthirsty guns they possess?   Whatever you may have thought of them before, this book will make you think about these characters a little more and from a different perspective.  It provides depth to characters that in another series would be simple two dimensional background players and at the same time the story builds more of the world in which The Sixth Gun resides.

The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun was a lot of fun to read and something I would recommend to any fan of the main series.  Bunn and Hurtt are clearly in control of these characters and the world they have built.  It is fun to sit back and watch creators reach new heights of quality and storytelling with their own characters.  The book is well written and beautifully illustrated but more than that it examines individuals who at first glance would be too easily cast as evil and demented and puts a light on them to ask “is there more to see?”   After reading the book you can’t help but root for Drake and Becky even more, knowing more about the people that are after them and the Sixth Gun they hold, they have their work cut out for them.

Reviewed by: Jeff Bouchard
(jeff@comicspectrum.com
)
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