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January 29, 2011

Oni Press Reviews: The Sixth Gun vol. 1

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Written by: Mac
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The Sixth GunThe Sixth Gun Book 1: Cold Dead Fingers
Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Brian Hurtt

There are two formulas I believe in:

Westerns = awesome
Westerns + the supernatural = more awesome

The Sixth Gun proves the validity of those two formulas. The tagline on the back of the book sums it up: “This is not the old west as we know it.” The summary of the book on Amazon.com is short, sweet, and to the point, so let me share it with you:

During the darkest days of the Civil War, wicked cutthroats came into possession of six pistols of otherworldly power. In time the Sixth Gun, the most dangerous of the weapons, vanished. When the gun surfaces in the hands of an innocent girl, dark forces reawaken. Vile men thought long dead set their sights on retrieving the gun and killing the girl. Only Drake Sinclair, a gunfighter with a shadowy past, stands in their way.

Okay, now that I’m done nicking information from other sources, let me tell you a little more about what I thought.

While The Sixth Gun is not the old west as we know it, it also is. The author did an amazing job of keeping true to the feel and diction of the time. There is a cadence to the dialog and narration that feels genuine. It could have been easy to fall into the trap of forcing “old west” colloquialisms into the writing, but this book steers clear of that. This kept it from feeling too hokey old west, and because of that, it made the world of the supernatural slip in as if it had always been there.

The supernatural elements in the story are fitting. For example, each of the mystical six pistols holds a special power. The more the gun is used, the more it twists its user into a physical representation of its power. By the look of their wielders, the guns have been fired many a time. In fact, the holders of the guns make up  the majority of our villains (big surprise), and they are a scary and sadistic bunch.

Overall, the characters are very fascinating. It’s one of those books that you read and enjoy the characters in, but you also know that there’s a lot more to them that the author isn’t telling you yet. It keeps you anxiously turning the pages, wondering when the next tidbit will be revealed. For example, one of the lead characters, Drake Sinclair, is a jaded man whose true motives are still somewhat secret.

Sixth Gun Gallows Tree

Speaking of Drake Sinclair, he is hands down my favorite character in the book so far. Instead of sporting your typical rugged, wild west hero look, he appears in an understated ensemble with a bowler hat. He could easily be mistaken for a bad guy, and you almost half expect him to put a lady on the train tracks Snidely Whiplash style.

Drake Sinclair

The storytelling is very straight forward, and the exposition is done in a way that doesn’t interrupt the main plot. The story is constantly progressing with lots of action along the way, so you’re left with no time to get bored. However, that contributed to the one thing that disappointed me about the book, and that is that the last chapter seemed very rushed. It seemed like the pacing was exactly what it needed to be until that point, making the arc resolution somewhat dissatisfying. There was too much build up for too little pay off. Granted, this is only the first collection, but there seemed to be more story that could have been told.

The art in the book is very clean and very attractive. Many of the images are done in heavy, warm tones, so it makes the pops of color that appear here and there even more dramatic. I also really like the character designs and the expressions they are given.

I have to admit, though, the last chapter in the book threw me off a little by way of aesthetics. The first five chapters read pretty consistently as far as the layout (i.e. You read the left page first, then you read the right page). They decided to change the format for most of the last chapter, so you were left to scroll across the pages, left to right, in three horizontal columns. I think the intention was to make the ending more cinematic, but I had to keep reminding myself to not try to read the left page first.

Despite a bit of rushing at the end, this was a well rounded book, and I’m ready to continue reading the story. It definitely ranks high on my recommendation list.

Mac Beauvais



  1. So this title is a series of minis that chronicle the adventures of Drake? Overall it just sounds fun and worth checkin’ out! 🙂

  2. Billy

    Wow, I really like the feel of this book. Definitely worth picking up by the sound of it and the artwork too.

  3. […] issue, which is truly unfortunate because I want to like- no, love- this book. Cullen Bunn’s The Sixth Gun over at Oni Press is absolutely phenomenal. But that’s his creator owned series. So what is […]

  4. […] […]

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