Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dark Tower: Gunslinger: The Journey Begins HC

This trade commits one of my cardinal sins of storytelling: flashbacks within flashbacks. That’s not to say I’m uninterested in the many time periods we get to see, but man, this is one layered story.

The story leads off with the status quo at the beginning of the Gunslinger. Roland is chasing the Man in Black to force him to lead the way to the Dark Tower. Writers Robin Furth and Peter David do a nice job recreating that sense of desolation from the beginning of the novel.

While on this pursuit, Roland meets up with a farmer and they actually chat awhile. Roland flashes back to immediately after the battle of Jericho Hill, where he lost his ka-tet of fellow gunslingers. It turns out one survived for just a short time longer than the others, and while on his way to lay that gunslinger to rest, Roland met up with another billy bumbler. (If Stephen King has a better and sadder creation than the bumblers, I can’t name it. It’s like having a loyal dog who can talk to you.) This is the strongest element of the story. The most fascinating element of Roland’s world is the slow decay of a wonderful time, and we see that clearly in the ruins of Gilead and its outstanding cities. Placing the main conflict of the issue in a “dogan” Quonset hut is another great move, evoking more familiar feelings from the novels.

While in that flashback, Roland starts remembering the hanging of Hax, the cook of Roland’s royal family. The story is fine, but a bit unnecessary.

Again, I don’t have a problem with this story, but if the creators had all these stories to tell about Roland at younger ages, maybe they shouldn’t have jumped so quickly to the books’ status quo of an old, grizzled manhunter!

Sean Phillips handles the art in this collection, and he does solid work. I almost picture Gilead through Jae Lee’s pencils, so it was odd seeing a relatively youthful Roland with Phillips’ block face and expressive eyes. I think I prefer Phillips, but it does take some getting used to.