Monday, 11 June 2012

‘The Gunslinger Born’ – David, Furth, Lee & Isanove (Marvel)

Despite a few ups and downs just recently, I love blogging here and can’t see myself stopping any time soon (although if I don’t renew the domain name soon that might be taken out of my hands, keep reminding me?) If there’s one thing that I don’t enjoy though is that I never seem to find the time to go back and re-read some old favourites. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in an amazing position where I can finish a book and get to pick up something new straight away. There are certain books on the shelf though that give me reproachful looks, wondering why it’s been years (in some cases) since I stopped by to say hello.

I’m not quite sure how I’m going to handle that one, in the long term, but every so often I get to ‘cheat’ a little and revisit old favourites whilst reading something new at the same time. Seriously, it can work sometimes. Like with ‘The Gunslinger Born’ for instance, a Marvel series that I meant to check out a while back but never did; not only a rather nice hardback collection appeared on the shelves at ‘The Works’. I’ve just spent a couple of hours engrossed by this book and I’d recommend you do the same.

A word of warning though (although I’d imagine I was the last person to find this out…) I saw the title and thought that my luck was in and that I’d be reading something brand new about Roland’s quest for the Dark Tower. I will be reading something new soon (once I get a copy of ‘The Wind through the Keyhole’) but ‘The Gunslinger Born’ didn’t tell me anything that I didn’t already know. What we have here is a mixture of moments from the first few books (mostly ‘Wizard and Glass’) thrown together to give us Roland’s story as it actually happened, not told through flashbacks and so on.

So yeah, I was a little disappointed at first but that feeling soon faded to be replaced by being engrossed instead. I reckon you’ll feel the same if you give the book a go.

Stephen King may not have played a huge part in this book (creative and executive director this time round) but ‘Wizard and Glass’ is perhaps one of the best books in the ‘Dark Tower’ series and that cannot help but shine through here with a dark tale of romance, betrayal and standoffs in old bars at the world’s ending. It makes me want to go back and read ‘Wizard and Glass’ all over again (maybe I will).
King brings the ingredients to the table, David and Furth combine extraordinarily well to adapt what is a sprawling epic to a tighter comic book format. There’s a lot that we miss out on here (including Roland’s current wanderings which form the framework surrounding this tale) but you’d only notice if you’ve read the books in the first place. What you get are the key points of the original tale all wrapped up with a dry and forthright narration that is entirely in keeping with what Mid-World and its history is all about. King’s stories may not adapt particularly well to the small screen (and we all know which ones I’m talking about here) but a lot of work has clearly gone into making the transition a lot smoother here. The hard work most definitely pays off.

The real stars of the piece for me though were Jae Lee and Richard Isanove who provide us with artwork that is nothing short of gorgeous. A world on the cusp of a slow death is rendered in all its stark glory and this is reflected in the people we see on each page. It’s a hard and brutal life but there’s no choice but to live it the best way you can, Lee and Isanove leave us in no doubt as to what this lesson means.

What a book! ‘The Gunslinger Born’ may not tell us the whole story but it’s really hard to hold that against it when what you do get is superb. I think there’s more of this story from Marvel (am I right?) and I’m going to have to check it out. I’m hoping for some of the stuff only hinted at in the books but if this is what’s on offer then I’ll gladly take it.

Nine and Three Quarters out of Ten

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