Welcome to the inaugural edition of Paper Cuts, a new column here at SKC where we’ll try to highlight a shortlist of books (yes, real books) and graphic novels worth checking out. Think of them as reviews… only with less words.
The Sixth Gun – Volume 1
The Sixth Gun centers around six magical guns – each of which grants their wielder a different ability (immortality, pestilence, precognition, etc). Volume 1 (which collects issues 1-6) introduces us to Drake Sinclair, a quick-witted antihero, who alongside and his cantankerous cohort Billjohn O’Henry is searching for the titular “sixth gun” – an item of untold magical power. He’s not the only one, though, as the other five gun wielders are also on the hunt under orders from the maniacal ghost of a Civil War general (General Hume) who needs the gun to unleash hell on Earth.
A colorful cast of characters combined with an action-packed storyline and some great artwork (Brian Hurtt’s work reminds me of something between Eric Powell and Michael Avon Oeming) make this a really fun read. While the main plot is more or less concluded by the end of the book, author Cullen Bunn leaves enough subplots hanging in the high noon sun that snatching up Volume 2 is a no brainer.
Batman by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones (Vol. 1)
Individually, writer Doug Moench and illustrator Kelley Jones are two of my all time favorite comic creators. So when they teamed up together during the 90s to reinvent Batman, post-Knightfall… I was hooked. The result of their collaboration produced one of the most hauntingly moody runs of Batman that I can remember. In fact issue #521 – guest starring Killer Croc – is the sole reason I became a Batman fan in the first place!
Batman by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones (Vol. 1) collects the first half of their run, beginning with issue #515 and ending with #536 (there are some gaps in-between) which features a variety of Gotham’s most nefarious villains (Two Face, Killer Croc) alongside some relatively third-tier threats (Sleeper, Ogre and Ape). Not every story hits the mark, but it’s hard not to love just how well Moench and Jones pull off these classic tales about the caped crusader as if they were conducting a series of modern horror stories.
The Simon & Kirby Library: Horror
Yet another edition of Titan Book’s The Simon & Kirby Library, this volume showcases some of the “strangest stories ever told!” Chock full of otherworldly demons, giant monsters and the undead each of the tales are – admittedly – a slow burn, harkening back to the heyday of EC Comics but minus the overindulgence in gore.
This is probably the first volume where no single story really stood out to me. Instead, each comic seems to run together – a bit disappointing considering the theme – with Kirby’s impressive illustrations played second fiddle to an over-saturation of dialogue. The one exception was ‘The Head of the Family,’ but mostly due to it being the obvious inspiration behind Full Moon’s quirky feature film. In fact, only the Cover Gallery in the back of the book stood out as being truly memorable, unquestionably the highlight reel of the entire book.