- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Sixth Gun vol.1: Welcome to the Weird, Weird West
It's always fun to read a story that is willing to be based on a very odd idea for a plot or a uniquely strange setting. The first volume of the comic "The Sixth Gun" does both, by being set in a post-Civil War Old West that is much scarier or weirder than the real one, and featuring a plot involving a demonic undead Confederate general, six supernaturally powerful pistols, some sort of Lovecraftian horror from before the beginnings of time, and a quest for redemption and survival.
General Oleander Hume was one of the most terrifying generals of the War Between the States, a brilliant tactician but a bloodthirsty murderer who is widely believed to have consorted with demonic powers in order to achieve his victories. Despite being dead, it is believed by many that no man that evil could ever remain dead, and his strangely youthful widow Missy and her hired Pinkerton goons seem to agree, collecting up supernatural ephemera and sending a raiding party of some of Hume's most bloodthirsty lieutenants to the churchyard where he is believed to be kept. They're also search for the titular Sixth Gun, Hume's personal revolver which, like the five guns he distributed to his lieutenants and wife, is reputed to have magical powers. This gun falls into the hands of innocent farmhand Becky Montcrief, when her dying stepfather instructs her to throw it into the deepest hole she can find it, and to never touch the gun, Unfortunately, she picks the gun up to save herself from hired guns sent by Missy and the Pinkertons, and finds that the gun grants her visions of the future and that now no one else can touch it without getting burned.
Teaming up with the mysterious scoundrel Drake Sinclair (who has his own plans involving the Sixth Gun and Hume) and his slightly less scoundrelly friend bounty hunter Billjohn O'Henry to fight off Hume and his dangerous lieutenants, and figure out her own destiny.
Although the story revolves around Becky, Drake is more of the central character, as this story is more about him dealing with the demons of his past, and coming to terms with the terrible things he did previously. Although he becomes (slightly) more heroic as the story goes along, Sinclair is never really a hero, merely an antiheroic protagonist who seems to be currently on the side of the angels temporarily. It is this moral ambiguity that is so fascinating about him, as the reader finds themselves rooting for him even though he never really stops doing terrible or morally dubious things.
Hume is an intriguing villain, hammy as all hell as he struggles to gather together his allies, resources, and guns in a terrifying attempt to punish those who imprisoned or killed him. Even though he spends most of the story barely able to move, he still is threatening enough to be the unquestioned Big Bad of the story.
I also liked the weird western feel of the story. This is a wild west where demons, magic, and the supernatural exist but do not necessarily interact with day-to-day life, although it is almost universally terrifying when they do. It's also great to see a distinctly American take on magic and horror, and I look forward to reading future books that expand this fascinating world more.
Although this story is fairly well-contained, I liked that it left some definite sequel hooks for future volumes. It isn't necessary to read further, but I liked that I could. And I definitely plan on reading further in this series.
All in all, a great western horror dark fantasy comic with an intriguing central character of Drake Sinclair. I look forward to reading more from this series in the future. If you see it, definitely check it out if you like westerns, horror, or dark fantasy, as it is a great example of all three genres.