Writers: Peter David & Robin Furth
Art & Inks: Jae Lee
Colours: Richard Isanove
Plot: A Marvel Comics prequel to Stephen King’s novel of the same name. In it, we read the back story of gunslinger, Roland Deschain and his partners as they monitor John Farson and his evil bandits the ‘Big Coffin Hunters’. Farson is a two-faced, counter-revolutionary, who seeks to annihilate all the gunslingers and the monarchy they protect in order to rise to power and control the mythical realm of Mid-World.
King’s self-proclaimed magnum opus was first published in 1982 and comprises of seven books in total. The main character, Roland Deschain is the last of these cowboy/knights, called gunslingers. In the first novel, the kingdom of Gilead has been destroyed and a vengeful Deschain is pursuing the mysterious, ‘man in black’ while on his way to the dark tower-where all the questions can be answered and all wrongs made right somehow. This edition covers history before the fall of Gilead and shows how the ‘man in black’ was involved in Roland’s life as a youngster.
The story fuses multiple genres like the western, fantasy, sci-fi and horror into a sprawling, dense work. The comic simplifies things a bit but those core elements in the book are maintained. Themes of love, loss, coming of age, evil and magic-think Lord of the Rings-are coupled with spaghetti western characters and locations not unlike those found in Sergio Leone’s The Man with No Name trilogy. Despite King’s use of silly neologisms to dislocate the story from reality and the harsh welding of disparate genres (as is King’s style), The Dark Tower remains a pleasant and intriguing read. The formal tone of the dialogue does hamper it slightly but the depth of the characters and their story makes up for any negatives that might plague the comic. The over-digitised artwork works well with dramatic, still moments but cannot convey movement or any buoyancy in the face’s and anatomy of the characters, some may love this style but I feel it lacks the ability to adequately convey emotion. If you’re a King fan buy this, if you’re not familiar with his work tread carefully but you might just be surprised-as all are when they watch any of the bizarre films based on his novels-how much fun, emotional and exciting his work can be.