Visualizing Mid-World: An Intro to the Dark Tower Comics

I’ve never been much of a comic book reader. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of comic books I owned in the first 3+ decades of my life (unless you count Mad Magazine). While many of my childhood peers were reading comic books, I was more likely to have my head buried in a novel. I’ve never had anything against comics; I just never got into them, which was kind of odd considering how big a fan I was (and still am) of TV shows and films based on comics. They basically circled the periphery of my existence without ever making landfall.

But that changed when Stephen King licensed Marvel to tell a new series of stories from his Dark Tower universe in comic book format. As a huge fan of all things that serve the Beam (Dark Tower reference, look it up), I had to check these out. I waited until each series of issues was available as a collection in snazzy hardcover format and snatched them up. The series, released in five volumes, is very well done, with impressive imagery that brings the world of the novels to life. My only complaint about the comics is that I wish they were longer, but I think that’s to be expected as a comic newbie who is used to reading lengthy novels.

In the following paragraphs you will find mini-reviews of the five volumes. I stayed mostly spoiler-free, but the reviews assume that the reader has already read the novels and knows the back story that’s being told here. If you haven’t read the books but plan on doing so, I would recommend holding off on the comics until you have gotten through at least the fourth book of the Dark Tower series.

The first volume in the series, The Gunslinger Born, is taken from my favorite novel in the Dark Tower series, Wizard and Glass.  It was great to revisit that story and see the world of Roland’s youth brought to life via the striking images on the pages. However, as stated above, I would not recommend this to those who have not yet read the Dark Tower books, for while this volume does a nice job of capturing the tone of King’s books, it basically reads like a greatest hits version of Wizard and Glass (which is understandable given that book’s length). The result is that much of the depth and emotional impact gets lost, particularly with the tragic ending that in this version felt rushed. That being said, it’s definitely recommended for fans of Wizard and Glass wishing to re-experience that story in a different medium, as well as for Dark Tower completionists.

The next volume, The Long Road Home, is the first of the ‘new’ stories (i.e., material that was only hinted at in King’s books). It picks up immediately after the events of The Gunslinger Born, depicting the journey home to the city of Gilead as Roland’s friends attempt to free his consciousness from the magical sphere known as Maerlyn’s Grapefruit. This is followed by Treachery, which deals with the intrigue and duplicity infecting Gilead upon Roland’s return, while also fleshing out the tragic story of his mother that was briefly touched on in the novels. Both volumes are worthy additions to the Dark Tower saga.

In The Fall Of Gilead, the s**t really starts to hit the fan. It’s hard to say too much without giving away spoilers, but anyone familiar with the Dark Tower series already knows that it does not end well for the protagonists. However, knowing what’s coming doesn’t lessen the heartbreaking impact of the events that unfold. Some people complained that the art was not as good in this volume, but I am not enough of a comic book afficionado to speak to the artwork, so I’ll leave that for others to judge. My primary interest is the story, and this may have been my favorite of the five volumes.

The final volume, The Battle of Jericho Hill, is the story that Dark Tower fanatics have been waiting for: the tragic end of Roland’s ka-tet at the hands of the Good Man’s army on Jericho Hill, and it certainly delivers on the tragedy. It does seem to happen rather quickly, though, leading you to wish for a longer format to tell this story, but it does an admirable job within these constraints.

Following the release of this series, Marvel embarked upon a new series that tells the story of the Dark Tower from book one, beginning with The Gunslinger: The Journey Begins. I haven’t yet decided whether to get these since they won’t be adding anything new to the canon, but I probably will because the hardcover compilations make great collectibles and it’s always a treat to see talented artists bring the books to life. Besides, with Ron Howard’s ambitiously conceived Film/TV project falling through, it’s looking less likely that we will see the Dark Tower series brought to the screen anytime soon, so these comics are the best we’re going to get.  And what better way to pass the time between now and the April release of The Wind Through the Keyhole?

Writer, traveler, photographer, hiker, film/TV addict, amateur chef, casual gamer, and occasional tennis & saxophone player . . . in real life I do web design.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Books, Entertainment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Follow Michael Rappa on WordPress.com
Archives
Categories

Join 298 other followers

Instagram Feed
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota - September, 2017 #BlackHills #MountRushmore #mountains #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #SouthDakota #Travel #UnitedStates
Iron Mountain Road, South Dakota - September, 2017 If you ever visit Mount Rushmore, I highly recommend first driving Iron Mountain Road from south to north. Complete with switchbacks, pigtail bridges, and single lane tunnels, it is a beautiful drive culminating in this final tunnel that frames Mount Rushmore as you drive through it. #BlackHills #IronMountainRoad #MountRushmore #mountains #nationalmonuments #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #rocks #scenicdrives #SouthDakota #Travel #tunnels #UnitedStates
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, the first major bridge in the U.S. designed to allow access to transit vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians but not cars. #architecture #bridges #cities #landmarks #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #Travel #UnitedStates #waterfront #TilikumCrossing
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 View from Marquam Hill (Oregon Health & Science University), after taking the Portland Aerial Tram from the waterfront to the top of the hill. #bridges #cities #landscapes #MarquamHill #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #PortlandAerialTram #rivers #Travel #UnitedStates #waterfront #willametteriver
Portland, Oregon - August, 2017 The historic Hawthorne Bridge, the oldest vertical-lift bridge in operation in the United States. #architecture #bridges #cities #landmarks #landscapes #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Portland #rivers #Travel #UnitedStates #waterfront #willametteriver #HawthorneBridge
Old Trail Town, Cody, Wyoming - August, 2017 During my long drive across the entire state of Wyoming I stopped in Cody for a visit to Old Trail Town, a recreation of an old west town using authentic buildings collected from around Wyoming and Montana. The buildings were disassembled, moved and reassembled at Old Trail Town. Among the buildings here are original cabins used by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, a saloon frequented by Cassidy's "Hole-in-the-Wall Gang," and the home of the Crow Indian scout who led Custer to Little Big Horn. There are also tons of historic Old West artifacts and grave sites of several notable Western figures. It's a nice little diversion on the way to or from Yellowstone for fans of the old west. #cody #historicbuildings #NorthAmerica #oldtrailtown #oldwest #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #wildwest #Wyoming
Needles Highway, South Dakota - September, 2017 This was taken during my drive along Needles Highway, a scenic, sometimes treacherous road winding through granite “needle” rock formations in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The road has a number of one-lane tunnels cut through the rock, wherein you have to be careful and make sure nobody is coming from the other direction before driving through them. Needles Highway was the first leg of a grand loop scenic drive I took through Custer State Park that also included the Wildlife Loop and Iron Mountain Road before ending at Mount Rushmore. If you’re planning a trip to Rushmore, I highly recommend taking this loop if you have the time as the landscape is often spectacular. #BlackHills #mountains #needleshighway #NorthAmerica #Photography #roadtrips #rocks #scenicdrives #SouthDakota #Travel #UnitedStates
Multnomah Falls, Oregon - August, 2017 The lower portion of Multnomah Falls. #MultnomahFalls #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Travel #UnitedStates #waterfalls
Multnomah Falls, Oregon - August, 2017 On my way from Portland to Mount Hood I decided to take a detour to view the majestic Multnomah Falls. It was well worth the stop. #hiking #landscapes #MultnomahFalls #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates #waterfalls
Mount Hood, Oregon - August, 2017 This photo features Timberline Lodge (lower left) sitting beneath a blanket of mist and clouds while Mount Jefferson (upper right) rises above the cloud cover. #clouds #landscapes #mist #mounthood #mountjefferson #mountains #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #roadtrips #TimberlineLodge #Travel #UnitedStates
Mount Hood, Oregon - August, 2017 A view of the mountainside looking down toward the valley while riding Timberline Lodge's "Magic Mile" ski lift on Mount Hood. I liked the contrast of the white trees against the landscape. #clouds #landscapes #magicmileskilift #mist #mounthood #mountains #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #TimberlineLodge #Travel #UnitedStates
Mount Hood, Oregon - August, 2017 When I reached the top of the "Magic Mile" ski lift on Mount Hood I was treated to this spectacular view of Mount Jefferson peeking above the clouds. I wonder if anyone was standing at the summit of Mount Jefferson at the same time, looking across at me and enjoying a similar view of Mount Hood's peak above the clouds. #clouds #magicmileskilift #mounthood #mountjefferson #mountains #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #roadtrips #Travel #UnitedStates
Mount Hood, Oregon - August, 2017 This shot was taken as I rode up Timberline Lodge's Magic Mile ski lift toward the summit. At the bottom of the photo is a house that almost blends in with the landscape. Above that is a patch of snow dotted with skiers (they look like ants from this distance). The lift is definitely worth the ride if you're visiting the lodge, or you can choose to hike up to the top. Had I had more time, I would have at least hiked back down from the top, but I needed to get back to Portland to catch my plane to Montana, so I rode both ways. #landscapes #magicmileskilift #mounthood #mountains #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #roadtrips #TimberlineLodge #Travel #UnitedStates
Mount Hood, Oregon - August, 2017 Sunset on Mount Hood. #mounthood #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Travel #UnitedStates #sunsets
Mount Hood, Oregon - August, 2017 Berries on Mount Hood. #hiking #landscapes #mounthood #mountains #NorthAmerica #Oregon #Photography #Travel #UnitedStates
Michael is reading…
%d bloggers like this: