The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #2
Review by: Adam Chapman & Blake M. Petit
Quick Rating: Good; Satisfying
Rating: Parental Advisory
Having faced his Gunslinger’s Trial, Roland Deschain is given his first mission.
Creative Director: Stephen King
Plotting & Consultation: Robin Furth
Script: Peter David
Art: Jae Lee & Richard Isanove
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Production: Anthony Dial
Designers: Pat McGrath & Dayle Chesler
Assistant Editor: Nicole Boose
Editor: John Barber
Executive Editor: Stephen King
Cover Art: Jae Lee & Richard Isanove
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Blake: With his Gunslinger’s trial behind him, Roland Deschain is given his first mission. He, along with his friends Cuthbert and Alain, are sent to the barony of Mejis, there under the guise of being apprentice drovers seeking horses, but in truth to seek out traitors to the Affiliation. As they begin their mission, a girl named Susan is sent out to visit the witch-woman called Rhea of the Coos, carrying more than one mission of her own.
First, let me correct a mistake I made in last issue’s review – it is with this issue that the adaptation of the novel Wizard and Glass begins. The story last issue was actually part of the first Dark Tower novel, The Gunslinger. But those of you who haven’t read the books, fear not – the comic book is presenting the story here in proper chronological order, so you’re not actually missing anything.
This story actually feels more like a set-up issue than issue #1. Last month we got the “origin,” and now we’re actually putting the chess pieces – Roland, his friends, Susan and Jonas, primarily – into place for the rest of the story to come. I don’t say this as criticism, just an observation. A lot of new characters are introduced this issue, and the introductions are handled very well, Susan’s in particular. The encounter between her and Rhea is as chilling in graphic form as it was the first time I read it in the novel.
Adam: With regards to the introductions in this issue, I almost felt that they could have been handled with a bit more depth, so that the characters were then easier to mark in one’s head. After last issue, I also found that the set-up of this issue dragged the overall story down a bit, is it seemed more awkwardly set up, and then the issue dragged a tad on from there. The fluidity of the narrative, and of the story beats just didn’t seem as good as the last issue.
Blake: The narrator of the book also takes on a more personable tone here as well, interacting with the reader a bit more and giving the story a sense of it being told to the reader, rather than being read. As so much of Stephen King’s best work has an undeniable “campfire tale” quality, this is really a nice touch.
Adam: I have to say that personally I was kind of bothered by the narrator here, it didn’t seem to have nearly the punch that the last issue had. At times, I also found the narrator to be more obtuse and speak more clumsily than in the last issue. I appreciated the interplay that is existing between the storyteller and the audience, but felt that it got muddied during this issue, instead of flowing better or being all that more personable, if it could even be called that.
Blake: The artwork, like last issue, continues to be the star of this book. We covered the way the linework and color art blends seamlessly last issue, and that still bears true now. Let’s look at some more specifics now – Susan, for instance. She actually looks like a girl. A scared, beautiful girl, but a young girl nonetheless. So many artists would have been unable to resist the urge to turn her into some oversexualized cliché, but Jae Lee and Richard Isanove absolutely nailed it.
Adam: When it comes to the artwork, I can’t disagree with you in the least. This is a lovely looking book, Isanove is a perfect companion for Lee, and it also gives me a lot more respect for Isanove and how much his pencils can change and modify a piece of art. He’s got a very distinctive look to his work, and he really makes Lee’s art into something of sheer beauty. Already the linework is good, but the delicate colours that Isanove applies do wonders to an already beautiful piece. As Blake was saying, Lee‘s characters look their ages, and aren’t ridiculously out of proportion, or oversexualized, as in the case of Susan. Lee’s skills as a storyteller are on full display here, and you can also get a sense of how many different styles he can master, from the creepy and horrific, to the gentle and horrified.
Blake: Then there’s the scene where we see the real Big Bad of this series – this is a bit of creative license, as he wasn’t this prevalent at this point in the original novel. That’s just fine – it gives the book the perfect dose of portent for the future, and the artwork on these two pages is phenomenal: creepy, scary and more than a little grotesque. These are the pages that earn the “Parental Advisory” label on the UPC box.
Peter David, Robin Furth and a masterful art team continue to craft a comic book unlike any you’ve ever seen before.
Adam: Seeing as I’ve never read any of the Dark Tower series, everything is new to me, and from that perspective the issue worked fairly well at giving the reader all of the necessary information, and including elements to be worked on in the future of the series. I’m still impressed with the overall package, and glad that Marvel didn’t skimp on the extras after the first issue. I’m impressed by the level of quality, the extras, how its put together, all of it. Impressed and surprised. Overall, I have to agree with Blake, they are a great team, making a comic book event that’s never quite been done like this before, although I was a tad crestfallen upon seeing that this issue couldn’t quite live up to the expectations the first issue propogated.
Adam’s Rating: 8/10
Blake’s Rating: 9/10