Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Reborn review
Stephen King and Marvel team up - could this be the best comic book adaptation ever? Rob McLaughlin's certainly very impressed...
Having recently read Stephen King’s mammoth venture into the realms of fantasy, there are many great things about the series of novels. From the Wild West setting of Mid-World to the scale of the adventures to the interlinking with other King novels, the Dark Tower books are a superb epic that are beautifully ported over into comic format.
Hyped by Marvel for the past six months we finally saw Stephen King’s first venture into comics completed this week – and it was well worth the wait. Praise has to go to the entire creative team on this book, as it one of the most visually appealing adaptations of a novel that has hit the shelves in the long time.
Within the Gunslingers’ world of mid-world (which is a futuristic universe and a cross between the wild west and middle earth) this collection of comics covers the early years of our hero, Roland Deschain, and his original ka-tet. Most of the dialogue is taken directly from the fourth book in the series, Wizard and Glass, which sees Roland and his ‘knights’ set upon a minor quest which turns out to be a lot more dangerous than anyone could imagine. It also shows how and why Roland is so obsessed in finding the mythical Dark Tower.Aided by a set of companions, including Cuthbert and Alain, this initial comic is essentially a starter set for people who would like a tast of the Dark Tower world without having to read all seven books. It’s really a stand-alone comic that can be enjoyed without the need for background knowledge of the entire back story, undercurrents or big picture (the manipulation of John Farson, the Wizard’s rainbow, Flagg, the path of the beam…). As these larger story aspects are left out, what you get is a greater chance for characters such as Susan, Cuthbert, and even the baddies like Eldred Jones to shine.
Although not really all written by King, the writing style is such that you can understand why King is one of the most respected and enjoyed writers on the planet. Not only do the comics provide you with a superb example of King’s ability of make fully rounded, flawed and fantastic characters (and some very shocking situations, such as Susan’s fate), it also looks beautiful. Jae Lee pulls out all the stops to produce some of the best work of his career, bettering by miles the already fantastic job he did with Inhumans nearly a decade ago.
Aided by the gorgeous colouring of Richard Isanove, who gives the book a watercolour feel (reminiscent of what was done with Wolverine: Origin), this book is probably the best thing to have hit the shelves this year in terms of storytelling, art and production values. Marvel are onto a real winner here. I’m very much looking forward to the further exploration of King’s Mid-World with the up and coming Gun-Slingers’ Companion book and hopefully more limited series based in this universe – I’m dying to see Lobstrosities, slow mutants, Blaine, the Wolves of Calla, Eddie, Susannah, Oi and eventually the Dark Tower itself all on the printed page.