Graphic Novel Review: The Gunslinger Born

The Gunslinger Born by Stephen King, Robin Furth, Peter David and Richard Isanove, The Dark Tower Graphic Novel #1

'The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.' With those words, millions of readers were introduced to Stephen King's Roland - an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower. Now, in a comic book Roland's past is revealed!

Some of you might know of my big passion when it comes to Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. It was my first venture into the realm of fantasy. Now you might say that why haven't you picked up the graphic novels sooner? Well they are actually quite expensive. With continuing to hear more and more positive news from these books I just had to get them. They are well worth it. Trust me.

If you are familiar with the The Dark Tower series you know that it comprises of seven books, with book four Wizard and Glass being somewhat different. Telling not a story about the the quest towards the ever elusive Dark Tower but one of Roland's past. The Gunslinger Born is the illustrated version of events that took place in Wizard and Glass mostly. 

Just to give a short introduction to the Dark Tower. Roland Deschain, son of Steven Deschain is a gunslinger. Best looked upon as the best of the best gunmen. The world that he lives is in Mid-World and in the time that the original series takes place, this world has simply moved-on, marking Roland as the last surviving gunslinger. Roland wants answers and the only way he can get them is by going to the Dark Tower, a Tower that stands in the the mid of Mid-World where the beams intercept. Mid-World is a strange place, it has a lot of inspiration from a western setting but as you read on, there are weird bits, tinned canned food, and even seeker like devices and other automatons. It's a very provocative setting.

But this is the current time frame. The Gunslinger Born takes us back when Roland was a young boy of 14 years old. Together with his friends he is being drilled into becoming a gunslinger. But it takes times and understanding. They started of with birds of prey that they had to treat as their friends and weapons, training was supervised by Cort, an old but still wise and fast gunslinger. Due to some events, Roland rushes himself to become a gunslinger, he needs the guns to exact revenge. Armed with his trusted hawk, David, Roland jumps to his rite of passage, facing off against Cort. If Roland looses he has to abandon the way of the gunslinger and become an exile... You can probably already guess Roland wins but getting his revenge is a lot harder. Afterwards his father finds him and reveals a plan to Roland, he has to travel to Mejis together with his friends Cuthbert Allgood and Alain Johns. When they finally get to the town Hambry, some plans change, mostly those for Roland as he meets his first love. Susan Delgado. However Susan has unfortunately already been wed to the Mayor of the town. Susan didn't chose for this and the feeling is mutual now all of a sudden finds himself in a much deeper plot and if that wasn't enough there is also a different kind of law present in Hambry that of Jonas and the Big Coffin Hunters and what ever they say counts. The young gunslingers, Roland, Cuthbert and Alain don't get of on the right foot with the Big Coffin Hunters with a lot of consequences. But you should take in mind, never underestimate the skills of a gunslinger. Next to the action that takes place in Hambry there are also flashes other characters, ones that you might or might not be that familiar with. You see glimpses of Martin Broadcloak as well, the man why Roland wants vengeance. And you have a final embodiment, graphic display of how the Crimson King should look like and his really is a piece of work. The ending of the story is pitch perfect and the final battle of Roland's ka-tet is amazing. 


The artwork of the comic is really, really good. My first introduction to the The Dark Tower illustrations was by The Wind Through the Keyhole and I was taken away by it. It has a lot of bright colors but also many darker tones. I only started reading comics in the last year but this is definitely one of the better illustrated ones. With my prior knowledge of The Dark Tower, the grim setting of the story but also the moments of joy that Roland has with his ka-tet and of course the love of his life Susan, are captured beautifully. I have added some pictures of the artwork in the review. 

The Gunslinger Born is a must must read for every The Dark Tower fan. This graphic adaptation is just pitch perfect, spot on, and brilliant. For me the illustrations are all that I had imagined of the characters, with the exception of The Crimson King, wow! Horrifying. The story in The Gunslinger Born tells the early years of Roland and his ka-tet, events that have been told in Wizard and Glass and partially in The Gunslinger. And even if you are not familiar with the The Dark Tower series, this still is a hard kicking western inspired comic, but do be careful you will probably be picking up the books afterwards. Highly recommended!   

Comments

  1. I've read the first 3 graphic novel story arcs, and I've been really impressed. It looks and feels like The Dark Tower, and they've done a good job of capturing King's vision.

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  2. Bob! The Dark Tower is my favorite series, the sheer inventiveness behind the series is brilliant. period.

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