Turns out I was wrong–last issue did end with a soft cliffhanger. Becky and Drake are relatively fine as this issue opens; Bunn does not acknowledge the dialogue-free previous issue either. It’s sort of strange, not to mention it, but the issue works anyway.
Bunn continues showing Drake’s viciousness, which is another interesting move. He’s juxtaposing that viciousness against the real possibility Drake is some kind of magical guy. Like an immortal soul tied to the metal in the guns. And Becky is along for the ride. There’s a great moment of conflict for her, when she internally questions Drake’s behavior. Of course, this internal questioning is just between lines of dialogue and in Hurtt’s art. It’s a great scene.
Neither the reader nor the characters know all the details about the guns, leading to a deferment in moral judgment to characters’ behaviors.
Bunn writes a good comic.
A Town Called Penance, Part Five; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
Bunn does a dialogue-free issue. It should be called, “One Helluva Rescue,” as Becky saves Drake from his captors and they battle the Order in its stronghold.
But the issue isn’t just free of dialogue, it’s silent. When Becky and Drake communicate, they do it through body language. It’s not like Bunn and Hurtt are inferring they’re talking between panels. It’s just silent and that silence emphasizes the action.
The issue follows Becky until the last couple pages. How she finds the hideout, how she gets down to free Drake. Bunn even sticks with her when Drake takes his revenge–that moment, her waiting–is when it’s clear how far Bunn and Hurtt have taken their characters in Sixth Gun.
The issue also has a hard cliffhanger masquerading as a soft one. The leads are in danger of drowning.
It’s an awesome issue with some gorgeous artwork from Hurtt.
A Town Called Penance, Part Four; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
Brian Hurtt has a very pleasant style to his artwork. It’s often warm, regardless of content. This issue, however, featuring Drake tortured, it’s not so pleasant. The aged doctor doing the torturing is almost cute in an eccentric mad scientist way, but he’s doing such terrible things. Hurtt’s art style leads to The Sixth Gun being a constant surprise.
Also a constant surprise is how low Bunn is willing to take Drake and still keep him a sympathetic character. Even when he’s being tortured, Bunn manages to reveal something else unpleasant about the character.
Meanwhile, Becky is in the middle of a shootout–which has a couple surprises–and it becomes clear Bunn’s keeping the arc’s supporting cast distant for a reason. While Drake’s scenes are interesting because it’s a lot of information about the backstory, Becky’s half of the issue is pure Western shootout excitement.
It’s an excellent issue.
A Town Called Penance, Part Three; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
Bunn still doesn’t have much of a story for Drake. He pretty much gets a good meal and then gets in a bunch of trouble. Or he’s about to get in a bunch of trouble. There’s the threat of it….
But Becky does get in a bunch of trouble, a couple times even. Bunn gives her the Yojimbo plot, which is more interesting because of the gender roles. Also because there’s a big secret she discovers and it plays into the plot a little.
Bunn’s really good at toying with reader expectations. There are a couple tense moments in the issue, lead characters in danger, where it seems like it could go either way.
And Hurtt gets some varied action to render. There are only two action scenes but they’re quite different.
There’s still a lack of spark to the new supporting cast members, but Gun’s starting to cook again.
A Town Called Penance, Part Two; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
It’s a setup issue. Becky is in a desolate, starving town looking for Drake. Drake is meanwhile dealing with his captors. They both make–or think about making (it’s unclear so far)–unexpected deals.
And that recap is about it. Bunn introduces some new characters, but none of them resonate except the ones Becky encounters. They only resonate, however, because their situation is so desperate.
It’s not lazy writing, or even unimaginative… it’s just very workman. Bunn has to get the next arc setup and he does, only without making it compelling on its own. Instead, he lets the series’s momentum carry the issue through.
Sadly, the lack of action gives Hurtt little to do. His art’s excellent as usual, there’s just nothing dynamic going on.
The issue is too passive. Becky and Drake’s respective supporting casts are far more active than the leads. The imbalance makes the issue drag.
A Town Called Penance, Part One; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; letterer, Douglas E Sherwood; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
Billjohn’s back. Heck yeah.
I’ve been missing Billjohn and Bunn and Hurtt reveal he’s back in the first couple pages this issue.
This issue finishes the “Bound” arc and shows how complicated Bunn’s plotting is on The Sixth Gun. While nothing big happened–except Drake’s disappearance–the reader learns a great deal about Becky and Gord. Bunn waits until now to reveal another layer to the whole picture as well.
He’s got to have some kind of outline.
There’s more action than in the last couple issues here, with Gord fighting himself (sometimes literally) as he struggles to deal with a devil. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
And then Becky has her big moment, along with a quieter one where she discovers more powers of the Sixth Gun.
This arc gives Bunn and Hurtt a lot more toys and somehow revitalizes the series, even though it didn’t need to be.
I can see now why Bunn put all the action at the beginning of this arc. It’s not about action, it’s about the calm following the action.
For example, the scenes with the most action this issue are Gord’s flashbacks. Except it’s not exciting Western action, it’s the terrible things Gord went through. And it’s all off-panel. Hurtt either shows the lead up or the results. It keeps the issue active, but calm and dreary.
Bunn also comes up with some more great flashback tools. Becky’s father is able to look in on her from the past, which provides some necessary foreshadowing, makes the issue subtly tragic.
The issue, overall, is a complete downer. Gord remembers bad things and Becky discovers bad things (and people). As usual with Sixth Gun, it’s difficult to predict where Bunn is going.
Particularly great Hurtt art at the end closes the issue well.
Anything after last issue was going to be a letdown and, while this issue isn’t as strong, Bunn and Hurtt are being very deliberate and careful. They’re slowly revealing the past of Gord and Becky. The beauty of The Sixth Gun being a supernatural Western is Bunn doesn’t have to use flashbacks.
Instead, he gets to use ghosts. In Gord’s case, the haunting is a little more literal for the most of the issue. While he’s walking through his past, conjuring up people long gone, Becky is getting acclimated to the weird monks protecting her.
She’s also pining for Drake, who’s missing (but not suspected dead).
The monks live in this huge castle and I really hope Bunn explains a castle in the Old West. I don’t doubt he’d explain it well, I just really want to read it.
Hurtt’s art is calm and quiet, silently majestic.
Gun‘s reliably strong.
The issue ends with a very peculiar turn of events. So much so the issue feels incomplete, like Bunn forgot to resolve something. He changes up Sixth Gun’s status quo in the second issue of an arc… it just feels funny.
The issue’s pacing is also funny. It’s an all-action issue (but none of those awesome Hurtt double page action spreads), with the protagonists literally putting the brakes on everything at the finish.
The great big mummy (he’s actually not so much big as super tall) proves an interesting foil for the issue, even though he doesn’t have any real dialogue. It’s a strange presence in the already strange situation of zombie cowboys after the protagonist.
Bunn’s got the tone right, Hurtt’s got the art right, but something’s missing. The cliffhanger is too quiet, too soft… the issue really needs some bite.
It’s technically excellent… but, again, something’s missing.
Is there anything not to love about this comic book? I mean, it ends with this beautifully paced reveal of the big villain–and I quote–a “giant mummy.” In the Old West. It’s just fantastic how Bunn and Hurtt pull off these fantastical reveals and make them work perfectly.
Speaking of Hurtt, this issue features some more of those wonderful Sixth Gun double page action spreads. It’s a great approach to action sequences, though I think Hurtt doing the art makes it work.
Bunn opens the issue–the first of a new arc–with a little recap, something Gun hasn’t had before. He works it nicely into the story, giving the issue a gradual start. Things get disturbing pretty fast, though Gun‘s handling of the supernatural is always somewhat genial.
If the book were too disturbing, it would overshadow the Western feel.
It’s truly an exemplar comic book.
Bunn has taken the reader’s expectations—or at least, Bunn’s perception of the reader’s expectations—and reversed them. It means he gets to end this issue, and its arc, in an unexpected place. Gord, who’s been sort of a seventh wheel around The Sixth Gun for a while, is apparently bowing out for a bit and Becky and Drake are off to a new adventure.
The issue itself is mostly action, with some surprises as far as plot points and guest stars. It’s all very competent, very genial and very pleasant. Even with all the supernatural stuff.
The last five issues, however, become nothing more than a transitional phase in the series. All the changes and revelations of the arc could be summed up in two paragraphs of dialogue. Hurtt’s artwork makes the series beautiful to read, but there’s not much point to the story itself.
It’s well executed padding.
Crossroads, Part Five; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
If Bunn feels he needs to redeem Becky in some way, he’s sure taking his time about it.
There’s some awesome looking awful stuff this issue—Hurtt reminds, more than once, of he and Bunn’s previous series, The Damned, with the supernatural elements—but also of important has to be Billjohn. Well, Billjohn the clay golem. He seems to have more to do than just stand around.
About half the issue follows Becky as she wakes up and realizes Kirby isn’t such a good guy… oh, but wait, she can’t raise her hand against him. Bunn has made her a truly boring character this arc and one hopes Drake will somehow liven her up again.
As for Drake, he spends the issue talking again. The talking is interspersed with those supernatural scenes; it’s interesting, but one can’t help feel like Bunn’s putting Drake on the back burner.
Still, it’s good.
Crossroads, Part Four; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
Ho hum. Bunn does the exact thing I was really hoping he wouldn’t, but he aggravates the situation by accelerating Kirby and Becky’s friendship into a sexual relationship immediately this issue.
Well, not immediately, because Gord and Drake sit around and talk about the six guns possibly being even more trouble than they imagined. Then we get to a post-coital scene with Kirby and Becky… and it occurs to me, thinking about it, Drake hasn’t seen him yet. So maybe there’s a surprise waiting for when Drake does finally see him.
The issue is mostly focused on action. Someone’s after the guns, causes some trouble for the cast. It’s a lot of great Hurtt action art, page after page of it. The art makes up for Bunn’s revelation.
I’m not exactly disappointed—it’s not a bad twist—it’s just a predictable, pointless one. I wanted more from the series.
Crossroads, Part Three; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.
Things are still developing, but while they do, Drake gets into a bit of trouble and we get to see Hurtt do a man versus giant alligator scene. It’s a fantastic few pages from Hurtt, who’s otherwise not doing a lot of action this issue. There’s some talking and some more of those discreet little motions in panels the reader needs to heed… like I said, things are still developing.
Bunn also hasn’t quite given the reader enough information about Kirby yet. I’m hoping he’s not bad, just because it’ll make Becky seem like a fool. Their friendship is one of the other percolating elements, though Drake does find out about him this issue.
I love how Gun is never melodramatic, even with the fine New Orleans setting and so on. Bunn and Hurtt somehow manage to get through the issue without even the hint of a misstep or stumble.
Crossroads, Part Two; writer, Cullen Bunn; artist and letterer, Brian Hurtt; colorist, Bill Crabtree; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.