"The Sixth Gun #48" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Oni Press
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Brian Hurtt
Colored by Bill Crabtree
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 20th, 2016
It's the beginning of the end for The Sixth Gun. Everyone marches towards Boot Hill for a final battle with the fate of the world at stake. Drake Sinclair and Becky Montcrief cross literal rivers of blood to prepare for this confrontation, and that's just the start.
There's a tangible sense of foreboding throughout this issue of The Sixth Gun. Writer Cullen Bunn is moving all the players into place, like a massive chess board. Instead of dueling with the likes of Bobby Fisher, he's playing for keeps with Armageddon nipping at his heels. Everyone who's anyone in this world is shuffling off to the land of the dead for this showdown. It's like a big reset button in some cases, as we see how this area affects old wounds and the dearly departed.
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That feeling of dread is helped in no small part by Bill Crabtree's colors. The land of the dead is grey and dreary, which makes the aforementioned rivers of blood jump off the page. All of the people native to this area are in black and white, juxtaposed against Drake, Becky, and the others, who are still in full color. It's as if they're walking through an old photograph.
Although the meat of the issue has to do with all these characters making their way to this skirmish, the most intriguing pages come at the very beginning and the very end. We're given a glimpse into the first appearance of the six powerful guns, called forth by Oliander Bedford Hume. We knew the gist of what happened, but this time the creators pull back a bit to show us some tangential events that reframe some of the core characters of the book.
Brian Hurtt's pencils are certainly apocalypse-worthy. You can't shake the ominous tone that comes through within those first few pages. The appearance of a strange goat with the six guns hanging from a chain around its neck is definitely a dark omen. What is perhaps even creepier is the goat's shadow that doesn't follow its body. It's a chilling after-image.
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Hurtt shows a great contrast between two panels featuring the same character. One is in the past, with innocent eyes, just seeing the horrors of war for the first time. The other is in present day, with features hardened by a life on the road and eyes that have seen too much. Flipping between them really showcases Hurtt's talents for characters design.
The tension is palpable as we near the end of this seminal series. You can't help but be filled with anticipation with each step these characters take towards Boot Hill. This is more than an old-fashioned showdown at high noon. There's a good chance that no one will come out of this alive. We're 48 issues in – more if you count the mini-series tie-ins – and the creative team can still surprise and excite with each page. This is going to be one wild ride.