Overview

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #2

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The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #2

Credits

  • Words: Peter David & Robin Furth
  • Art: Jae Lee
  • Inks: Jae Lee
  • Colors: Richard Isanove
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Mar 7, 2007

Recently proving himself a gunslinger, young Roland is sent east with two of his closest friends on a secret mission for the Affiliation.

As something of a pseudo-punishment for his hasty actions of wanting to be a gunslinger (failure at testing means permanent exile), Steven Deschain sends his son away to the Eastern Barony of Mejis with his two closest friends—gunslingers-in-training, Alain and Cuthbert—on what Steven claims is an important mission for the Affiliation. In reality, Steven wants to keep Roland away from the twisted magician, Marten Broadcloak, whom Roland wishes to kill but is too green at this point in his career to do so. And so, Roland’s trio heads east to count horses and be alert to signs of an anti-Affiliation uprising by a man named Farson. Only, much more danger lies in wait.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for readers who are using this comic as their first exposure to the world of Stephen King’s dark fantasy series, The Dark Tower. On the one hand this book marks the beginning of the series’ central character’s life as a gunslinger. Therefore, it is also unhindered by grandiose expectations that droves of faithful fans of King’s seven book series must also be feeling. On the other hand, intricacies such as the off-kilter English dialect and the strange powers and geography of this world must be somewhat perplexing, if not imposing to new readers. As it happens, I have read the first six books of the Dark Tower series, so all this is old hat to me. (As a bonus, the events of this story are set during my personal favorite—Book IV: Wizard and Glass.)

Peter David’s script is slowly, deftly turning Robin Furth’s story plot into something that will no doubt fit nicely into King’s already established gunslinger mythology. He has a firm grasp on the way these characters speak and what drives them—especially young Roland. Furth’s plot, while often treading old ground, is beginning to displace itself from the books. And her prose additions at the end of the comic bring further detail to the world of the gunslingers—this time telling the history of Maerlyn’s Rainbow, the thirteen spheres of terrible magical power.

Bernie Wrightson and Dave McKean are among several accomplished artists who provided illustrations for the King novels, but Jae Lee (with Richard Isanove’s dark/rich colors) has given this strange world its quintessential look. The images don’t exactly jump out of the pages; instead they sit there and shimmer, as though the reader is looking through a magical crystal ball—much like the "grapefruit" in these very pages—that turns even the most mundane into something truly beautiful.

This second installment is shorter on the action than the first issue, but the story is more rounded and gives a fuller view of what is to come. If the last five issues are as strong as the first two have been, it won’t matter whether you’re new to the Gunslinger series or you’ve been with it since The Gunslinger was first published in 1978. You’re likely to be hooked in as if under the spell of one of the spheres of Maerlyn’s Rainbow.

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