Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born (2007)

Author: Peter David / Robin Furth | Artist: Jae Lee | Page Count: 240

See the gunslinger now, in his youth, with the shades of young men who have little concept of their mortality.’

The first of five collections that brought the life of Roland Deschain to the comic book medium. It was researched and plotted by Robin Furth, and then turned into a comic script by Peter David. It uses Stephen King's language as much as possible but it's been streamlined to fit the format. It's no lazy cash-cow milking session of an existing IP with an inbuilt audience. It's a genuine work of art in its own right deserving separate appraisal.

Much of The Gunslinger Born is taken from events revealed in Book IV: Wizard and Glass (1997). It's possible to read the comic without having read the novels, but I view them more as a companion piece to be read afterwards. If, however, you are entering Mid-World for the first time, and may someday want to delve into the source novels, I recommended you skip Ralph Macchio's written introduction in the book because he drops a very real spoiler of something that didn't (or won't) happen until book VI: Song of Susannah (2004).

For the first time ever, Roland's story is presented in chronological order. He’s fourteen-years-old at the beginning, not yet a gunslinger, still under the tutelage of the brutish but experienced Cort. His personality is already well-defined but his long, arduous journey toward the Tower has yet to begin.

The events that push him into his coming-of-age trial are detailed beautifully. It depicts and explains his anger and feelings of abandonment. We're introduced to the people that played an instrumental role in shaping him: his parents; his tormentor; and the original ka-tet of Roland, Alain and Cuthbert. It was a joy to see the latter two get the attention they deserved.

Jae Lee's art is masterful. There's a collection of sketches at the back of the book that show just how amazing it was before being coloured. His lines have a real beauty of their own, even in their non-inked form. Richard Isanove's colouring is flawless. It's almost too perfect, like an airbrushed celebrity magazine cover, but it's steeped in deep blacks that throw everything into a terrifying contrast.

5 bullets that hit true out of 5

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