Drake is a ruthless murderer?
Becky has a little brother?
No General Hume even though Missy Hume is prominently involved?
I’ve often commented on how much The Sixth Gun changed between my earliest pitch and its eventual execution. My original idea was much darker and much smaller. I’m glad I took a vastly different approach to the series. It’s stronger now and the range of stories I can tell is much, much broader. Still, I think about that original concept from time to time. Reading over the earliest materials now, I can see where the seeds were planted for the book it would become. The second trade paperback (collecting issues 7 – 11) comes out this week. It’s a story I wouldn’t have been able to tell if I hadn’t changed directions a bit. But in celebration of the book’s release, I’d thought I’d share a look at “what might have been.”
The following is the original proposal for the series. I haven’t changed a word of it, and some of it is, I’ll admit, a little cringe-worthy.
The Sixth Gun
A Proposal for a Limited Series
By Cullen Bunn
The year is 1887. Thirty years ago, the Devil gifted a band of ruthless killers with six pistols. Each pistol possessed its own special power, making the man or woman who wielded it almost unstoppable. In an effort to steal all the guns for himself, one of the gang–Drake Sinclair–murdered his companions in cold blood. But the sixth gun was lost and presumed destroyed. Now, the killer finds that the gun still exists … and it is in the possession of children.
Sinclair should be an old man, but the power of the guns keeps him young. He cuts a dashing figure, dark, handsome, clad in fine clothing, and he could pass for a gentleman. But he is a ruthless killer who murdered his “friends” years ago.
Reverend Oliver Leeds
Leeds believes his mission calls for him to do more than preach. He sees himself as the sword of God, and he is taking the fight to those he sees as evil.
Sixteen year old Becky always dreamed of a romantic life, complete with a dashing, fairytale hero who would sweep her off her feet. Instead, she has seen nothing but hard times and misery. When Sinclair comes looking for the gun that is in her possession, she embarks on a harrowing race for survival.
Becky’s little brother. All of eleven years old and more headstrong than an old mule. In many ways he looks towards his sister as the mother he never knew.
A cruel, worthless man who stole the Sixth Gun off a dead body years ago.
The elderly woman who sets this tale into motion. She longs for the bygone days of youth and beauty, and she’s willing to do anything to recapture her glory years.
The Devil appears to those who carry the guns he created, appearing to wash over the features of the living in order to tempt his prey. But when the guns he created have taken 666 lives, the Devil will be free to walk the Earth.
Our story begins as Drake Sinclair steps into a boomtown tavern. He’s come looking for blood, having been hired by Missy Hume to track down and slay a man. When a gunfight breaks out, we witness the awful power of one of Drake’s pistols, as everyone struck—even those suffering only a grazing wound—begins to rot and wither away, like thousand-year-old corpses. Drake fights his way out of the town (killing dozens of innocents in the process) and rides off to collect his reward. Little does he know he’s being watched by Missy Hume’s agents.
Hume pays the hired gun, but she makes him another offer. The only reason she hired him in the first place was to see if the weapons he used were, in fact, the Devil’s Guns. She knows that one of the weapons can grant the wielder youth—a year for every life taken—and she wants the pistol for herself. In return, she will tell Drake the location of the sixth gun, a weapon he thought destroyed long ago. Drake doesn’t trust her, but he agrees to accompany the old woman and a band of hired guns in search of the last man known to have possession of the sixth gun—Zeb Montcrief.
Zeb is a disgusting, abusive man who has squandered his life and vents his frustration on his children. When he attacks his daughter, Becky, he is killed by Jacob with the old pistol the man keeps under his mattress. Becky takes the gun from her brother, and they bury their father’s corpse in the woods. Little do they know that their father’s old six gun is actually a weapon forged by the Devil. Fearing the law will come after them, they pack up their belongings and flee. As they travel the world, they encounter visions of the Devil, Old Scratch, which seem to “wash” over the people they meet on the road. Old Scratch urges them to perform horrible acts.
Meanwhile, Drake and Missy find themselves harried by Reverend Oliver Leeds and his posse. The Reverend knows about Drake and wants to see him brought down. “The law might not be able to stop him,” the Reverend says, “but I answer to a higher power.” After a bloody encounter with the Reverend and his men, Missy (who has been using one of Drake’s guns) is becoming younger. They elude the Reverend and continue on their quest to retrieve the final gun, never realizing that children now possess such a terrible artifact. Along the way, Missy becomes addicted to the rush of renewed youth, and she kills as many people as possible to become beautiful once more.
Drake, Missy, and the Reverend have several encounters, but Drake continues to escape. As they discover that children have the sixth gun, Drake kills Missy and the last of her men and goes after Becky and Jacob on his own. He almost catches them, but they manage to escape.
As Drake closes in on the children once more, he is attacked by the Reverend. Drake and the Reverend are both wounded in the fight, but Drake escapes once more. He catches up with Becky and Jacob, but before he can kill them, the awful power of the sixth gun manifests. All the people who have ever been killed by the weapon stagger out of the shadows—the hideous undead that rip Drake apart.
Becky and Jacob are now in possession of all six pistols. Old Scratch appears before them, making promises in return for their loyalty. Becky aims one of the pistols at him.
“That won’t do you any—”
She pulls the trigger, shooting the Devil right between the eyes. He staggers and topples backwards.
Becky and Jacob gather up the guns and turn away from the grisley scene. As they walk into the distance, we see Drake’s body clamor to its feet and stagger after them. Only one body remains on the bloody ground—the Reverend, with a bullet hole right between his eyes.