Archive for Dark Tower

Comics Reviews: Guns, Hawks and Stephen King

Like Clint Eastwood, just younger. And with a hawk. And in a comic book.

Kevin Brake, the A-J’s computer wrangler, saw that I had a comics blog yesterday and apparently ran home to get me a copy of “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1.” I knew that if I didn’t read and review it, Kevin would probably take away my computer, so I made sure it was the first thing I read when I got home.

First of all, this is not a new comic — it’s several months old at this point. I didn’t pick it up when it first came out because it’s based on Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” novels; I read the first of those novels when it came out, and I hated it. I didn’t — still don’t — think it was well-written. I thought his mesh of fantasy, sci-fi, and Westerns wasn’t all that appealing, and the similarities to Robert Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” just plain honked me off. Man alive, did I ever hate Robert Browning. And Longfellow. DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON LONGFELLOW. (Gaaah, high school English classes made me want to strangle people.) (Oh my, I’ve gotten off on a tangent now. This must be why my high school English teachers wanted to strangle me.)

Anyway, the “Dark Tower” comic has several advantages over the novels — first of all, they’re not written by Stephen King, though he does supervise their creation. King is a good prose writer, but he’s written a comic or two in the past and was not particularly good at it. The comic is plotted by Robin Furth, and the script written by Peter David.

The story here focuses on the Gunslinger from the novels, Roland Deschain — namely, we learn about Roland’s childhood and how he came to be a gunslinger. We see him being trained by a man named Cort. Roland is goaded into picking a fight with Cort, a rite-of-passage for young people wanting to become gunslingers. If they can defeat him, they earn the right to carry a gun; if not, they are permanently exiled. Cort is a very powerful man and difficult to beat in battle, but Roland picks an unusual weapon for his duel…

Much as I disliked King’s novel, I loved this story. It immerses you in the skewed language and culture of Roland’s world, and it’s much easier to get interested in Roland when you know about his past than when you’re just reading about him riding silently through the desert.

And the art is probably the best thing about this book. See the cover I put up there? It’s a gorgeous work of art, ain’t it? Usually, when you see a comic cover that looks that good, the art on the inside looks completely different. But not here. The entire comic, every single page, every single panel is that beautifully rendered. Jae Lee and Richard Isanove are credited for the art, and they sure earned their paychecks on this.

I’m still not sure that I’m interested in reading the rest of the comic series — it is still based on the only Stephen King book I hate more than “The Tommyknockers” (DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON “THE TOMMYKNOCKERS.”) but if you’re into “The Dark Tower” I think it’s definitely worth a read.

Comments off