Blue-3425 is going to die. He’s okay with it too, because he’s signed on to be a Holehead. The Holeheads are expendable troops fitted with psychic tumours that transmit everything they see back to Earth. In return for this brave action, and, of course, their deaths, any surviving members will receive a large payout. Holeheads can be terminal disease cases, criminals, lunatics or in the case of Blue-3425, an idiot with a broken heart. The Blister, where they go to die, is a nightmare, an otherworldly war zone where combustibles don’t work and near silent battles are fought with clockwork guns.
But no one told Six-Gun Gorilla that.
Si Spurrier has patiently been carving a name out for himself as one of the most interesting comic writers on the planet for years now. His work on Crossed: Wish You Were Here is uniquely intelligent, complex and horrifying whilst in X-Men: Legacy he led the charge that’s seen the Marvel Now! X-books become some of the most fun titles on the market. Now, he’s turned his attention to something more unusual, with Six-Gun Gorilla .
This book is a puzzle, and the process of reading it is also the process of solving it. We land in the same place Blue-3425 does and at the same time, meaning we learn at the same pace and are invested in his fate the moment his boots hit the ground. The Blister is a memorably horrific warzone and Jeff Stokeley’s slightly frantic, detail-heavy art really goes to town in showing you just how awful a place it is. This is also where Spurrier’s trademark sense of invention comes in as, in short order, we’re introduced to the Holeheads, the clockwork weaponry that is the only thing that will work on the Blister and the huge, living trooper carriers that are used there. There are wild west trappings, clearly, but there’s also a deep, well-thought out world underneath them. The book never feels gimmicky, and the war is both very real and very dangerous. Andre May’s colour work really comes into its own here too, drenching the Blister in blood red and orange until you can almost feel the heat.
As the book progresses, Blue-3425 does his job, showing both us and the people back on Earth, the war through his eyes. He’s even given a mission that tugs on the heartstrings, a dying general asking him to return a watch to his wife on Earth. Blue-3425, having had his heart broken recently, refuses to do it. Blue-3425, being an incurable romantic, then takes it back and sets off. The only problem is, the watch isn’t for the General’s wife, it’s something of desperate strategic value. It also makes Blue-3425 a target, even more so than before, and by the end of the issue he’s up to his neck in trouble.
Enter Six-Gun Gorilla, stage left.
The absurdity of Six-Gun is off-set by his sheer size. Stokely and May combine to give him incredible physical presence, which only makes his actions more impressive. Six-Gun wades through soldiers without seeming to be bothered by them and the violence is casual, brutal and fast. As the book ends, Blue-3425 has a mission and a protector and no idea about the true nature of either. There are intriguing hints, though, with Blue-3425’s past job, as a pulp fiction librarian hinting that Six-Gun may be a figment of his imagination. For the moment, though, he’s a colossal, polite, impossibility and the only thing standing between Blue-3425 and the death he thought he welcomed. It’s a beautifully done reveal at the end of an opening issue full of them. From the first time we meet Blue-3425 to the first time we see the Blister, and Six Gun, this is a beautiful, feverish comic book about stories, idiots, heroes, war and a Gorilla with a gun. Bring on issue two.
Six Gun Gorilla is published by Boom! Issue 1 is available now from all good comic retailers and Comixology. Find out more at the book’s official tumblr .