I was once told that I would really dig The Sixth Gun if I ever read it, because it’s a historical comic with a really good storyline. There are dozens of issues, however, and I just haven’t had a chance to dive in. Enter The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead, the newest iteration of the title. This week saw the release of issue #2, so it wasn’t hard to dive in. I’m glad I did.
Days of the Dead is a prequel to The Sixth Gun, so the backstory is a little complicated. Basically there are two groups, the Knights of Solomon and the Sword of Abraham, that are duking it out over powerful ancient artifacts. The Knights of Solomon, affiliated with the Pinkerton Detectives (and if you’ve spend any time watching westerns, you’re familiar with that detective agency), actively seek out these artifacts. The priests of the Sword of Abraham, sworn to protect these items, keep them away from the Knights even if it means destroying them. Into this comes “The Vessel of Yum Kimil” and a freelancer, Abigail Redmayne, determined to sell it to a high bidder. Instead of a totem, however, it turns out that the Vessel is actually the spirit of Yum Kimil—a god of the dead–and the world is going to be in serious trouble if he stays on the loose.
Confused yet? Yeah, I kind of was, too. But (and it’s a but so big Sir Mix-A-Lot would pay attention), it was confusing in a good way. I get the distinct impression that every bit of this was mapped out well in advance, and that I am being doled out information on a need-to-know basis. In real life, that would piss me off. In Days of the Dead, though, I like it. There’s a lot going on in this world, and small doses of information get me hooked without being overwhelming. I have perfect faith that the creative team is going to reward my patience with an awesome story, because this series has started out pretty awesome. In the first issue, a priest of the Sword of Abraham, Brother Vargas, has resurrected his dead father (a fallen priest of the Sword) with the help of a necromancer to help him find Yum Kimil. The necromancer double crosses Vargas, however, and in the process Vargas Senior’s reanimated corpse was decapitated. Now Vargas rides around with his dad’s head in a saddlebag, giving advice to his son, both of them knowing full well that if the Sword of Abraham found out what they had been up to, Vargas Junior would shortly be a head in a bag himself. It could just be my sick sense of humor, but I think that’s fun writing. I also have high hopes for Abigail’s kiddie sidekick, who seems to be a girl of about ten, but who can hold her own in a fight against the undead. Also, what the heck is going on with Abigail and Jessup Sutter? I can almost hear the old-timer announcer telling me to “tune in next time, to those thrilling days of yesteryear,” and I love it.
If the story is a mashup of Western and fantasy, the art skews more Western. If you’re old enough to remember the TV Show The Wild, Wild West (the TV show, not the Will Smith movie…the movie was polished and steampunky, but the TV show was rougher around the edges), the art reminded me of a cartoony version of The Wild, Wild West. I mean that as a compliment. The color palette is a little drab in the was that 60s TV always was, but it’s perfect for the eerie subject matter. The characters look like real people, but instead of being photo-realistic, they’re a little exaggerated—strong jawlines are everywhere here. And did I mention “head in a bag”? Vargas’s father’s reanimated corpse-head is suitably creepy and funny at the same time. The plot line featuring the Vargas men is my favorite of the series so far.
We’re getting into autumn, and this is the perfect time for a good ghost story/tale of the unknown, isn’t it? The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead is exactly that. I give it 4 out of 5 Lightning Bolts.
THE SIXTH GUN: DAYS OF THE DEAD #2
Writer: Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt
Artist: Mike Norton
Colorist: Bill Crabtree
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: September 17, 2014
Cover Price: $3.99