PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Comics

The Sixth Gun’s Thrilling and Scary World

Michael D. Stewart

Horror-Western The Sixth Gun forges ahead with its 16th issue, casting light on the backstory of the mystic guns themselves. But, with 15 issues published, how much more could this Weird Western yarn have left? Plenty.


The Sixth Gun #16

Publisher: Oni Press
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt
Price: $3.99
Publication Date: 2011-10
Amazon

From issue to issue, Oni Press’ The Sixth Gun doesn’t waste any time, moving from chapter to chapter with abandon, all the while building a weird world of gunslingers, outlaws, mystics, mummies, zombies, preachers and other worldly creatures. It’s a testament to the Horror-Western subgenre that has come in vogue in recent years. The unsettling nature of its plot is only enhanced by its dusty trail, 19th century aesthetic. With 15 issues published, how much more could this Weird Western yarn have left? Plenty.

Saddle up, as The Sixth Gun is a complex tale. Six Guns imbued with different supernatural elements, the sixth being the most dangerous, are central to the book’s core. Holding the last six shooter is Becky Montcrief, whose wild eyed innocence is only surpassed by her stubborn determination. She is both parts heroine and damsel. Her companions, former soldier turned rogue gunslinger Drake Sinclair and former slave and current mystic Gord Cantrell, are equally representative of the various types of heroes highly associated with the Western genre. Their mission, to simplify things, is to find a way to destroy the guns. Yet forces conspire to use the guns for other reasons, and the motivations of Sinclair waver from page to page as he plays his intentions close to the lapel of his waist coat.

All of these characters and plot points, with their supernatural elements, combine to create the otherworldly that also happens to be grounded by the rich Western setting. With issue 16, The Sixth Gun expands its universe by pulling back the veil a bit more on the backgrounds of its characters.

Former slave Gord returns to the plantation he once new, now deserted and haunted by the ghosts of his late wife and children and the sorcerer slave master he killed years before. Looking for some ancient tomes to shed light on the mystic guns, he must confront his past to push forward into the future.

Becky, using the divine powers of the sixth of the guns, revisits her late stepfather, understanding just a bit more about his place in all this, his motivations for, and knowledge of, the guns themselves. The past and present occupy the same space, if only by the power of the gun, giving Becky more insight about her current predicament – a seeming prisoner of the Sword of Abraham, a group of religious types battling the horrors of the world.

These points, which have been building since issue one, are ever expanding, representing the immense world building writer Cullen Bunn has been achieving with each issue. There is an epic nature to the book, partly due to the setting and the context of the period, but also due to the layer upon layer of story Bunn has built. It is quite the work, both in so far as one-off issue storytelling and the whole combined to represent the immensity of the entire project.

Bunn throughout the entirety of the run has shown a perverse talent for mixing the creepy with straight ahead adventure, weaving the dueling narrative elements seamlessly. Early on, his dialogue was a constant reminder of where the story has been, but as he reached the year milestone, that trick slipped away, leaving a much better developed point of view for each character and a cleaner approach to each issue. The story stays with you, so the constant reminder of the plot points was unnecessary. Bunn’s transition as far as dialogue demonstrates a certain amount of evolution in the execution.

What has stayed consistent has been the pencil and ink work of artist Brian Hurtt. Aside from one issue with a guest artist, Hurtt has done every panel, every page of The Sixth Gun. He's delivered a quality that is at times conventional and at other time penetrating. His work seems to anticipate the story beats, delivering lines and inks that are startlingly strong and poignant just as they are about to set the next movement of characters and story. The horror-fantasy elements, as well as the western context, are handled equally deftly, cementing the dual nature without ever letting one piece fall by the wayside.

Aiding that effort is the color work of Bill Crabtree. His palette is expansive, yet restrained, never moving beyond the expected, except when necessary for the story. It’s part of the grounded nature of the book, so that the horror elements evoke the type of suspense and thrills they are meant to in a relatively familiar world.

This world is familiar, yet it is not. The duality of which is the point and what makes The Sixth Gun such an exciting read month to month. Bunn and Hurtt have created a rich world of western horror, which has become a strong place to tell their tale. They have opened the gates, so to say, allowing the story to venture off in new directions, but stay ever close to the core of the book. It’s a thrilling and scary world that has no end in sight – even after this particular plot is finalized.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.