Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Sixth Gun: Sons of a Gun Review (Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt)

The Sixth Gun is Oni Press’ best series since Scott Pilgrim though unfortunately, like Bryan Lee O’Malley’s masterpiece, it is a finite series that is now winding down. How to get as much out of it without diluting the potency of the story? Spin-off prequels like Sons of the Gun! 

This isn’t something I’m automatically against as The Sixth Gun is a wonderful comic and more of it can only be a good thing. Except… this is a book about the villains of the story, the four horsemen of General Oliander Hume’s and how they received the guns before they were taken by Drake and Becky, and, frankly, their stories didn’t really need to be told. They’re just not that interesting enough characters in the first place and this book doesn’t do much to convince the reader otherwise.

The four are: “Bloodthirsty” Bill Sumter (possessing the gun with the force of a cannon), Will Arcene (possessing the gun that fires the flames of perdition), “Filthy” Ben Kinney (possessing the gun that spreads flesh-rotting disease), and Silas “Bitter Ridge” Hedgepeth (whose gun calls forth the spirits of the dead). Missy Hume, the General’s evil wife, possesses the fifth gun which keeps her young so long as she keeps murdering, though she doesn’t figure much in this book. 

Ben Kinney’s origin story is a fairly plain Beauty and the Beast-type tale – Ben is physically deformed but strikes up a relationship with an attractive young woman through letters who falls in love with him. Until of course when she sees what he looks like and poor Ben realises love isn’t on the cards for him and goes back to the gunslinger’s life. Bill Sumter’s story is a very forgettable tale of a brigand whose appetite for loot gets him into some sticky situations. 

Will Arcene’s story is pretty good but is something we’ve seen before in The Sixth Gun – supernatural and monstrous creatures massing in the Southern swamps, mixed in with black magic. It’s still entertaining but predictable as we know Will’s life is never in danger because this is a prequel. Silas’ story of becoming a plague doctor in a doomed township is probably the best as we see his character’s personal philosophy being formed – seeing people suffer from plague only for their suffering to be alleviated with his gun which resurrects them as weird mud creatures. 

The book ends in a pretty terrible fight scene between the four and a giant kaiju-esque monster that looks like it stepped out of Pacific Rim. This kind of threat doesn’t feel like it belongs in the world of the Sixth Gun and seemed arbitrary – the four characters needed a common foe to unite them, so this’ll do. The story of the doomed four horsemen of the Sixth Gun is something most fans of the series will pick up out of love of the main books in the title, but for this fan? It wasn’t bad and some stories were entertaining but it didn’t add much to the overall series and I could easily put this book down. Sons of the Gun is unnecessary but ok.

The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun

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