Billjohn O'Henry is one of my favorite characters from Sixth Gun. Back when the book first came out, he was one of the main reasons I stuck around. He of course was killed off during the first story arc. His death was treated as a major event and as the series went on it was obvious it had to happen. Thankfully this mini-series now exists to tell us more about his life. And just like the other mini-series that came from this epic story, we will find out more about the world in addition to the title character. The Sixth Gun: Dust to Dust #1 is a slightly disjointed issue. The first half is a peak at a little more of a realistic Wild West then is typically portrayed in the media and even the main series. We see the last ride of Kid Bedlam, a Billy the Kid stand in if there ever is one, and it is far from an epic send off. Kid and his gang are dealing with various ailments of the time like gout and mil fever while waiting to ambush Billjohn. The pages of Kid and his gang complaining and discussing real world problems are probably the best of the book. They are humorous yet still cause the reader to have some knowledge of the time. Kid's quick demise is actually a sad event as Billjohn offers a panicking and dying Kid a greater story of his death then what actually occurred. Kid wasn't tricked and ambushed while he sat in wait for a bounty hunter who was after him. No, Kid was drunk at a saloon talking with a herd of women as a bounty hunter snuck up on him, and even still Kid put up a grandiose fight. If only he hadn't been drunk....
This false mythos feels like the heart of the story. Kid Bedlam had books written about him and was more show off then legend. Billjohn in the end was a bounty hunter who died in a larger battle, a battle where the writers looking upon it would focus on other characters with Billjohn just being a footnote at best.
I said the story was disjointed, and I don't mean that detrimentally. After turning in his bounties, we see Billjohn return home, to his daughter. She is apparently ill, but in good spirits. The two cook and eat dinner before her ailments over come her. We now see a greater purpose for Billjohn, he is willing to go search for anything that may save his daughter. Similar to the ailing gang at the start of the book, we have a sickness effecting a character, but this time it is treated in a less comedic fashion.
The West wasn't known for its medicine after all. So Billjohn has been searching for a more supernatural solution to his daughter's problem. Which leads to the two big cameos of the issue. First we get Drake Sinclair, the man the dime novel of Sixth Gun is written about. Drake's appearance is brief, he is still obsessed with finding the Hanging Tree, the very place we first see Drake discover in the initial issue of Sixth Gun. Drake and Billjohn's scene is brief, they are friends and Drake is obsessed. It is a tease for what comes next in this series and the main one.
The second cameo is by one of the bearers of the Six Guns. Again in a foretelling fashion, it is the man who holds the Fourth Gun. The gun that "could call up the souls of those it had gunned down". The very gun that shot down Billjohn and would later allow him to return as a protector.
The other thing of note is the random panels that show the future. Throughout his adventure, we see a panel of what is happening and randomly the following panel is a beautifully pained image of the future. The two panels have the same lay out but show different characters and times. I don't know exactly what its purpose is yet, but I am intrigued.
All in all this is a solid first issue. If you read Sixth Gun it is a must have issue, detailing the exploits and life of a wonderful character who was cut down too soon. But I also feel that someone new to Sixth Gun could read this and enjoy it. There is still a fun Wild West narrative that is slowly leading to more supernatural happenings. Someone picking up this issue could find out if they like the world and the characters and then once this mini series was over, begin the epic that is Sixth Gun.