Title: The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born
Author: Peter David; with plotting by Robin Furth; based on the novels of Stephen King
Illustrations: Jae Lee and Richard Isanove
Published: Marvel (2007)
If I have a favorite series of books, it's Stephen King's The Dark Tower. I read the first book, The Gunslinger, back in '04 or '05 and was hooked. Of the seven books total, I've read five--I'm purposefully stalling so I can savor this epic as long as possible. Then I discovered there are graphic novels too. I dare not dream of a day when the story of Roland is told on the silver screen, as the adaptation would most likely be lacking severely, but a graphic novel ... there's a medium that could really get knee deep in the subject matter.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I sat down to read the hardcover edition. It turns out it's a part of Roland's story I'm already familiar with--his coming of age story. In the seven chapters of this book (I assume each was a separate issue when originally published), we see a more direct telling of this story. In the fourth book of the series, Wizard & Glass, a much older Roland reminisced about this same story to his friends while journeying towards the Dark Tower.
The story basically deals with Roland being sent on his first mission as a Gunslinger after hastily challenging and defeating his trainer and mentor. He and his two friends, Cuthbert and Allain, ride from their home of Gilead to Hambry to figure out what plans Farson and the Good Man have in store for the coming war. It's there that Roland falls in love with a young woman, and betrothed mistress to the town's mayor, Susan, who will haunt his heart and memories for the rest of his life.
Romeo and Juliet has nothing on this tragedy. Well, I say that to those who like a bit of sorcery, fist fights, and shoot outs mixed in with your romance.
While the artwork doesn't match up much at all with what my own imagination has built over time thanks to the books, it's some beautiful stuff to behold while reading along. Each character is distinct, and while appearances differ from what I've already dressed them up as in my own mind, their personalities and idiosyncrasies are captured with precision on each page.
The only real contention I had with this book was some of the glaring omissions with the narrative. If you've read the books, then you'll probably agree with me that there are a few quick jumps over assorted scenes. Minor stuff, really, when you see how the big picture has been condensed so well, but I still couldn't help noticing some scenes cut abruptly and others left out altogether. However, to include everything in The Gunslinger Born, Peter David and gang would have probably needed another seven chapters.
If you're not in a hurry to read the books, feel free to pick up this one and check it out. I really think you'll appreciate the story being told that much better if you've at least read the first couple of books, where pieces of this story are alluded to though not told like it is in the fourth book.