Friday, May 20, 2011

Graphic Novel Review: The Dark Tower – The Journey Begins

Having read the entire Dark Tower book series by Stephen King, and also being a comic book reader, I knew from the first announcement that I’d be interested in checking out the new series from Marvel. The initial stories were one part adaptation of some of the earliest stories in the Dark Tower timeline, from Roland becoming the youngest Gunslinger to his first trial in Wizard and Glass. But eventually the comic moved on and began to fill in the missing pieces of Roland’s youth, finally bringing the story to the critical Fall of Gilead and Battle of Jericho Hill. This story moves ahead to where The Gunslinger book opens, with Roland on the trail of the man in black. He stops at a shack in the desert inhabited by a solitary man, and there he tells of another story from his younger days, in the immediate aftermath of Jericho Hill. Roland’s friend Aileen asks him to bury her with her father back at Gilead, and so his quest is delayed as he fulfills her last request. Along the way he does battle with mutants and some of Farson’s men, before the story comes back to the present and Roland continues on his pursuit of Marten and ultimately The Dark Tower. I had one major problem with this book, and a few minor ones as well. The major issue is that in the middle of the flashback story about the aftermath of Jericho Hill, Roland has a second flashback (that’s a flashback within a flashback) when he is confronted by the ghost of Gilead’s cook. Now as I was reading this I was aware that this story, from when Roland was a boy and overheard the cook plotting to kill the Gilead’s children in his service to John Farson, I was aware that I’ve read this part before – I’m not sure if it’s actually from The Gunslinger book or from some other novel in the series, but it’s there. The real issue is that it was a flashback within a flashback, which should really be the touch of death to any author – stay well back from the area. Besides that, there just wasn’t all that much interesting that needed to be told in this series. The Gunslinger works as an introduction to the character and the world, but now that this comic series has already done that (in telling earlier stories) it’s not as needed, and it means that the comic creators should have breezed past this and onto other things. The artist is serviceable but not particularly memorable, not anywhere in the same league as Jae Lee (who has done all the art chores up to this point). I’ll continue to read at least through the next book, since it’s an adaptation of The Little Sisters of Eluria which is one of the rare Dark Tower stores I’ve never read – but after that, this series is going to have to do a lot more to grab my attention when I could just as easily re-read the books instead.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've read one of these and found it pretty good. I might eventually read the whole series but am not in a hurry.