By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Hurtt (art), Bill Crabtree (colors), Douglas E. Sherwood (letters)

The Story: The gang seeks medical/spiritual attention for Becky after she is overcome from using The Sixth Gun too much.

Review (with minor SPOILERS): I came away from this issue feeling disappointed and unfulfilled.  It’s a little difficult to capture “why” this issue comes up short, but I think it has to do with where TSG stands as a series and decompressed storytelling.  Ugh–decompression..  At 30 issues, the series is mature: we know the characters and we know the stakes; now we need to get on with the story.

TSG has always been decompressed, but the pace of storytelling that worked in the early days is now too slow.  In the early issues of a series, there is still wonder at every page-turn as we get to know the characters, learn the mechanics of the world, understand who the villains are and what plans they have; decompression is fine.  Now, we know how the six guns function and how Becky is paying a terrible price for carrying the Sixth Gun (a little like Frodo and The One Ring).  We know that Drake is a trusty companion to her and possible love interest.  We know that Gord is true to the end and that Kirby is a little slimy, but basically a decent guy.  And we know that Missy Hume and her minions want the Sixth Gun for their own nefarious purposes.  THAT much is clear.  The only mechanic left to explore is this concept that the six guns are involved in the world being “reborn” throughout time.  It’s hinted that this “rebirth” has happened many time and that the guns don’t always appear as guns (they could be swords or bows or knives….).

I desperately want to move onto THAT story because it sounds nifty.  I’m ready for that final conflict between good and evil and I just don’t feel like we’re headed there, or we’re at least taking a scenic path.  It’s like when you’re a kid and your parents take you on a long car trip.  You know that you’re only an hour from home by interstate and you just want to get home to play with your toys and see your friends, but Mom tells Dad, “Wouldn’t it be nice to drive down the country road?  The flowers are so pretty there this time of year?  After all, we’re not in any sort of rush.  This is family time!”  And this is a comic that costs $3.99/issue….

Now, stow all the piss and vinegar away and you do still have a pretty good comic book.  It it well written and beautifully illustrated.  Honestly, I don’t think the Hurtt/Crabtree combo has had an ugly panel over the entire series.  I like this introduction of Native Americans into the series because they offer some hope of reaching the final conflict.  And Becky’s spirit-walk with a talking crane is pretty cool too.

Conclusion: A solid issue without any technical flaws.  The only problem is that the series is a little slow.  We’re taking the country road to the final destination and sometimes it would be nice to hop on the interstate for the final bit of the journey.  Go faster!

Grade: B-

– Dean Stell