Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Gunslinger: Little Sisters of Eluria HC

Now this is more like it! I was really disappointed with the last Gunslinger trade, it had storytelling problems and really didn't flesh out anything new or interesting in the tale Roland the last gunslinger. This story does not share those weaknesses.

The Dark Tower series works best (in the novel Wizard & Glass, I think) when the reader is shown glimpses of the expansive Mid-World, but never given a complete explanation. Why are so many elements of the "real" world mixed in? When does each part of the story take place? We just don't know. Little Sisters is full of those little glimpses of the familiar but it's all stirred up with those weird elements that Stephen King mastered years ago.

This collection has some great shots of the slow mutants, the ever-present threat to humanity that's only a step above a zombie. It's great seeing the kinder, gentler Roland try to reason with these creatures before he starts blowing them away. Eluria itself has all the hallmarks of a classic Mid-World town, with a church to the Man Jesus and a red cross painted on the tent outside town.

I don't like it when it feels like Roland is the last person around, too, and that definitely isn't the case here. The Little Sisters are currently working on a small group of drovers and bodyguards, and some of them actually get some dialogue, so once again it feels like Roland is a part of a bigger world. Sure, that world has moved on, but the remnants of civilization are still there. Heck, that's what makes the slow mutants and the little sisters so scary; if it was just monsters left it would be easier for Roland to give up.

The Little Sisters are pretty cool. They seem ok on the surface, but they've got a nice King grossness to them. The Dark Tower on their chests provides a link to the greater mythology, but of course, it is never explained. It doesn't need to be; these gross ladies just want to consume the liquids of their prisoners. Does it really matter why?

And of course, this story has that classic element of lost love, too. Roland has loved and lost a lot over the years. I think each trade should be required to have a sad connection for the gunslinger.

Luke Ross does a great job on the pencils for this story. In fact, I think his work might be the best fit for this series so far. It still looks and feels like a comic, but Richard Isanove's color palette keeps everything solidly rooted in the Dark Tower universe. The slow mutants look wonderful, the sisters are creepy, and Roland looks like a movie-hero. I do picture the gunslinger hand-cannons a bit bigger, but maybe that's just me.

This is one of the best Dark Tower books so far.


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