Back in 365 #36, I was noting that I'd foolishly stopped buying The Sixth Gun since the issues had started to pile up beside the bed and I wasn't getting to them. Well, at the time of that writing I was getting to them but I was having difficulty locating some of the mid-20's issues. At the time of that writing #28 had just hit the stands. At the time of this writing #37 had arrived earlier in the month and, until earlier today, I had 13 issues unread beside the bed.
With 2 1/2 hours of bleary-eyed early morning reading (plunking the 4-year-old in front of the televisual babysitter, watching an episode and a half of the Netflix Turbo series, an episode of the Avengers cartoon, and then a handful of the Teen Titans on DVD) I surged through all 13 issues and... well... wow. This is really how the series is meant to be read, in concentrated doses. In fact I think one of the best afternoons one could probably spend would be to sit with the entire series (once complete and just gorge on the series). Cullen Bunn continues to build upon everything in the past with this title but never constraining himself with any sense of normalcy. The characters and the world of Sixth Gun is constantly growing, as are the concepts which continue to build (though not exactly the same, it's like Lost in some respects in how its mythology builds, sometimes upward and sometimes outward).
I was trolling through the Second Printing archives and came across a bunch of early thoughts on the book, including one in which I noted that I wasn't connecting with any of the characters in the first arc. Well, by this stage these characters have all become amazing. The Sons of the Gun mini-series showed how well Bunn can character build in a single issue, but these 13 issues show how well he does in long-form storytelling. Good guys and bad guys alike get equal attention, and in many cases the line delineating them gets quite blurry.
"A Town Called Penance" was the arc I was reading all those months ago back when I wrote 365 #34, and I thought at the end of that it was my favourite arc of the series, and it was. But Winter Wolves, the first arc I read today was just as equally amazing, with Drake and Becky facing a Wendigo, trapped in a wintery hell, while a motley assortment of past friends, acquaintances and enemies search them out together, each with their own agenda.
Beyond that arc "Ghost Dance" has topped it as my favourite as Becky, spiritually wounded after pushing the limits of the sixth gun's mystical abilities, goes on a bit of a spiritual walkabout, only to have her spirit guide murdered before her (the results of the Widow Hume's interference). Left deserted in an ethereal world of infinite possibilities and a legion of skinwalkers out to kill her, she encounters a number of realities in which the six guns existed in different forms (swords in Arthurian times, axes carried by cavemen), and it's just wonderful.
This 36th issue is the start of a new arc, taking place some time after the events of Ghost Dance. Things aren't peaceful, so much as Becky, Drake, and company have had time to clean themselves up a bit, as well as come to understand just a little more the direction their life should be taking, and it's very possible that these trajectories may be at odds with each other. We're barreling towards the end at this point (no pun intended) with issue 50 closing the series out, so that's another 2 arcs at most following this and you can feel everything building over these past dozen issues...the last arc especially. Can't wait. I wonder if I'll read each as it comes out now, or if I'll just stack 'em up until the end...?