Overview

FCBD 2010: The Sixth Gun #1

Review

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FCBD 2010: The Sixth Gun #1

Credits

  • Words: Cullen Bunn
  • Art: Brian Hurtt
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Price: Free
  • Release Date: May 1, 2010

On the surface, Free Comic Book Day has always been about putting books in the hands of people who wouldn’t otherwise walk into a comic shop. It’s a way for publishers, creators, and retailers to give back to their readers, while hopefully growing the market. Some publishers take the easy way out, offering reprints of popular issues already on the shelves. Others offer meager samplers of upcoming titles, teasing us with short trailers or secret files designed to whet our appetites for the next big event.

Most rare are those publishers who see the benefits of giving back to their fans, while taking advantage of the huge marketing opportunity FCBD represents, by offering a brand new full issue of a series not yet in stores. With The Sixth Gun, Oni Press offers its readers one of the best books available during this year’s Free Comic Book Day.

Set after the dark, desperate days of the American Civil War, on its surface, The Sixth Gun appears to be yet another trendy supernatural western tale of vengeance and redemption. It features all the familiar conventions of this recent genre fad: zombies, curses, a damsel in distress, and a dark, mysterious antihero with his own agenda. What sets it apart from others of its ilk is the strength of the storytelling within its pages.

Collaborators Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt create a tightly plotted introductory tale that successfully sets up all of the main players and themes, while grounding their story and characters in a fully realized historical setting. A large part of their success relies upon a brisk pace facilitated by Bunn’s engaging third person narrative. The omniscient narrator lends the tale an air of legitimacy and weight, linking the different characters and plot elements effortlessly, as it moves from one lush, earth-toned scene to the next. Bunn makes his readers feel as if they were listening to an old-timer tell the story over a bottle of whiskey in a dusty old saloon.

It’s a charming and engaging approach complimented by Hurtt’s stylishly simple yet effective art. There’s something polished yet a little rough around the edges about his style which fits naturally with the book’s setting and subject matter. He spots the blacks incredibly well and benefits from coloring his own work. Each page feels like a cohesive whole rather than simply the sum of individual parts. Hurtt’s coloring is lush and rich, his earthy palette of browns, oranges, and greens perfect for the gritty, noirish tone of the story.

Thanks to their solid storytelling and stylish art, Bunn and Hurtt’s The Sixth Gun is one of the best all-around titles available this FCBD. It was a pleasant surprise to find not only an original full first issue of such high quality on Free Comic Book Day but a fun, engaging series I’ll keep my eyes peeled for come this July.

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