The time of the six guns has not yet come to pass, but Death and its insatiable hunger has found a way into the realm of the living. Will the warriors of the Four Tribes be able to stop the encroaching invasion? Is it good?
The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death #1 (Oni Press)
The Sixth Gun universe continues to expand. Just last week Oni Press, in cooperation with Pinnacle Entertainment Group, launched a Kickstarter to bring the universe to Tabletop Role Playing Games. This week Brian Hurtt with A.C. Zamudio explores the time before the six guns in The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death #1.
Hurtt uses quite a bit of exposition to lay the foundation for this story. However, the way he relates it fits the universe and the story quite well. He uses story-telling around campfires and an interrogation to provide the necessary details surrounding the history of the approaching threat.
The dialogue not only provides extensive exposition, but also allows Hurtt to introduce new characters and reintroduce a familiar staple in The Sixth Gun world. Hurtt introduces us to Screaming Crow, Buzzard Wife, and White Wolf. All three are drastically different from each other. White Wolf is a proud and arrogant hunter who relishes the chance to have a thousand songs sung about him. He wishes for a grand legacy and aims to achieve it through his prowess as a hunter and warrior. Then, there is Buzzard Wife, an outcast mystic who is able to walk the realms outside those of humanity. However, her wisdom is respected and unites the Four Tribes as she leads a hunting party to do battle against Death. Finally, Screaming Crow is an adventurer and knowledge seeker who steals the secrets of the Great Creator in his search for truth.
A.C. Zamudio’s artwork captures the essence of The Sixth Gun world. Her depiction of the trapped god is quite intriguing, but leaves plenty of room for your imagination to add further details. Speaking of details, Zamudio forgoes fine-tuning the plants, and trees, or a plain of picked bones. Instead, she creates imagery of a forest and plants and allows your imagination to fill in the details. It gives the world a very dry, bleak feel.
Adding to the dry, bleak feeling of the world is Ryan Hill’s colors. All of his colors are muted. He uses a palette of earth tones with browns, faded reds, and subdued greens. He enhances certain panels with his choice of background colors, using red to portray bloodlust. Hill does an excellent job of capturing the positioning of the sun and external light to capture the differing shades of the sky.
Zamudio excels at portraying characters’ anger and fear. Both White Wolf and Screaming Crow have emotional outbursts and you can feel the anger rising within them to be released through Crank!’s lettering. She also is able to capture Kalfu’s fear. He is huddled in a squat underneath a tree. If the comic had motion, one can only imagine him shaking in sheer terror. It evokes images of Gollum.
Finally, Zamudio’s battle sequence is chaotic. Bodies, limbs, and weapons are flying everywhere as Death’s creatures engage the hunting party of the Four Tribes. Each panel is a different scene giving us a wider picture of what the combat looks like. On one panel a creature is feasting on the innards of a Four Tribes’ warrior while in another White Wolf has sliced the head off one of the creatures with his axe. It’s thrilling and depicts the magnitude of the enemy the hunting party faces.
Is It Good?
The Sixth Gun: Valley of Death is an excellent addition to The Sixth Gun world. It builds on the supernatural mythology, examining the experience of humanity in its struggle against its own finality, death. It examines different paths individuals may take on their journey through life in the characters of White Wolf, Screaming Crow, and Buzzard Wife. Zamudio’s artwork with Ryan Hill’s colors created a bleak, dry world that sets an ominous tone for the impending struggle against Death. If you are looking to jump into the world of The Sixth Gun or are looking for a supernatural Western, look no further: this book is fun, mysterious, and dangerous.