"The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Oni Press
Written by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt
Illustrated by Mike Norton
2015, 136 Pages
Trade paperback released on June 10th, 2015
Things are looking pretty grim right about now in The Sixth Gun. The series is nearing its conclusion and the world could be ending with the book's final issue. Creators / writers Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt have taken some time to flesh out the background of Roberto Vargas and Jesup Sutter, two characters that play a pivotal role in the series as it reaches its climax. On the one hand, you've got a priest from the Sword of Abraham and on the other, there's an agent of the Knights of Solomon, two organizations formed with a focus to capture and/or destroy the six guns filled with magical power. Before they can even get along with their quest, the pair must battle an ancient guide of the dead. No biggie, right?
The immediate gain to Days of the Dead is the establishment of Vargas. He is a bit of a one-note character in the main series, serving as a hindrance to Becky Montcrief and Drake Sinclair. He has a one-track mind when it comes to the guns, and nothing would stop him from completing his task. This makes Vargus rather boring, as everything is black-and-white to him. Right off the bat we learn that he's at odds with himself. Although he's a sworn priest of the Sword of Abraham, his mother is a witch adept in the art of black magic. He recognizes that to get what he wants, he may need to dabble in the dark arts himself, risking everything he's built his life around in the process. Vargas' mission sends him deeper into this magic and he ends up carrying around the reanimated head of his deceased father, which is both awesome and hilarious.
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Jesup on the other hand is a hardnosed asshole. He carries a grudge against Sinclair, and Days of the Dead gives us the background on that. Jesup really stands out from a design standpoint, as he has this bright orange hair that is unlike anyone else that's popped up in The Sixth Gun. His mustache is jet black, but that hair sticks out. Maybe that's part of the reason why he's so prickly. Seeing him like this, before all the heartbreak and tragedy, almost makes you feel sorry for him. Jesup is intent on doing the right thing and he's not afraid to get his hands dirty to do it.
Vargas and Jesup make for an unlikely duo. They end up tracking down a fearsome creature named Yum Kimil, who proves to be an absolutely heinous villain. He has a penchant for sewing, but not for pillow cases and clothing. Yum Kimil's hobby is more in line with the likes of the Human Centipede. There's a terrifying scene about halfway through the book where this insane Frankenstein-esque monster bursts through a wall. It's an amalgamation of three men, their arms swinging about, throwing punches every which way while its six legs scramble like those of a spider. Artist Mike Norton did a bang-up job on this thing and this is just the first one you see. There are others that pop up as Days of the Dead reaches its climax and they only get creepier.
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Yum Kimil's evil grows as the story progresses. He starts out as little more than a folk tale but quickly evolves as his actions become more and more gruesome. His power grows with each despicable deed, as does his hideous nature. By the end, he's a demon-like being shrouded in a filthy cloak, leaving your mind to fill in the specifics as to what manner of monster is lurking within.
The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead fleshes out some of the backstory on two integral players within the main series. Although it certainly had me reevaluate how I felt about Jesup, I found myself unchanged on my feelings for Vargas. Aside from his familial background, he still comes across as a black-and-white, by-the-book priest of the Sword of Abraham, despite the dabbling in black magic. Jesup had some real heartbreak that forced him down the path that ultimately led him to a darkness he may never come out from.