Ten years after its initial release, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born is back in a new printing of the critically acclaimed mini-series. This hardcover collection holds the first seven issues of Marvel’s comic adaption of Stephen King’s masterpiece Dark Tower series. The Gunslinger Born takes readers through Roland’s test of manhood and his adventures in the fourth book in the series, Wizard and Glass. Time to find out if it’s any good!

Marvel synopsis:

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, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic. Now, in a comic book personally overseen by King himself, Roland’s past is revealed! Sumptuously drawn by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, adapted by long-time Stephen King expert, Robin Furth (author of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Concordance), and scripted by New York Times Bestseller Peter David, this series delves in depth into Roland’s origins ‘ the perfect introduction to this incredibly realized world; while long-time fans will thrill to adventures merely hinted at in the novels. Be there for the very beginning of a modern classic of fantasy literature! Collecting DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN #1-7.

What’s the skinny?

“The Man in Black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” Easily the most iconic line from the Dark Tower series, and that’s exactly where this tale begins. Roland Deschain, son of Steven of the line of Eld, a warrior of the White, follows the Man in Black across the desert and recounts the day his journey as a gunslinger began. Through a series of flashbacks we’ll learn of Roland’s early days in his homeland of Gilead and witness his rise among the ranks of gunslinger apprentices. As the son of the leader of the gunslingers, the protectors of the good people of the White, Roland finds himself under the weight of parental expectation and leadership.

It doesn’t take long into the journey of Roland’s tale for treachery to rear its ugly head. In an effort to save his son’s life and teach him what it means to carry the guns of a gunslinger, Roland’s father Steven sends him on a mission on behalf of their government, the Affiliation. In Mejis, a land far to the east, Roland and his fellow apprentices will find a town known for its horses, which the Affiliate is in desperate need of. But there’s much more to Mejis than meets the eye–plots within plots exist around every corner and treachery has followed them out of the West.

What’s the catch?

Dark Tower fans will rejoice to see some of their favorite chapters from the series brought to life in an illustrated format. My only question is what about new fans? How many people will be hooked by this comic and motivated to either explore the other adaptations or the series itself?

Is it good?

This may be the first time I’ve reviewed a graphic novel and taken the time to speak about the physical qualities of the book. A lot of books have great cover art and this one is no exception in that regard; there’s absolutely beautiful work to be found on the front and back covers, along with both of the slipcover ends on the inside. The paper used on the slipcover is high quality and the artwork is printed upon it in a way that gives it a nice reflective sheen, really making the images pop out at you. Along the inside of the slipcover at the start of the book you’ll find a nice breakdown of Stephen King, The Dark Tower, Marvel’s involvement and the story you’re about to enjoy. The opposite slipcover provides readers with a breakdown of the creative team and a badass drawing of young Roland. At the end of the story there’s an open letter from Stephen King, maps of Mid-World and a collection of variant covers from various artists. The combination of art, printing style and the information presented to the reader combines to form one of the most impressive hardcovers I’ve ever comes across.

With Robin Furth guiding the ship, Peter David has taken Stephen King’s stories and masterfully translated them into a comic adaptation. I’ve read the Dark Tower series many times and the events found in this hardcover collection are exactly as I always imagined them in my head. David didn’t stray outside the lines, he delivered a story to the fans that’s a true and proper tribute to King’s work. Key scenes such as the ka-tet’s confrontation with the Big Coffin Hunters, Roland’s challenge to Cort and the fight between Roland and Cuthbert displayed a writer with an understanding of the important of pacing.

Jae Lee was the perfect artist to bring Mid-World to life through an illustration format. Readers will be taken into a post-apocalyptic world that’s harsh, dirty and dying. Lee captures Mid-World as I’ve always imagined it to be and shows me characters I’ve only ever been able to picture in my head. From start to finish his work is visually stunning and eerily beautiful.

There’s no question that existing Dark Tower fans will easily fall in love with what Furth and team have created. My only uncertainly lies with those new to the series. This story is the first in a collection of five. While the others deal with events not fully explained in the books, this arc is a full visual recounting of a tale already told. Thus I’m finding it hard to tell who the audience of this book is supposed to be. As a huge Dark Tower fanboy it’s hard to take myself out of that mindset and look at this tale from an outsider’s perspective. When I put myself into the shoes of a first time reader, I like to believe I’d finish this story wanting to know more, but I just can’t say with absolute certainty that I would.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born
Is it good?
Visually stunning and action packed, The Gunslinger Born is the perfect example of how to do an adaptation right.
Jae Lee was the perfect choice to bring Mid-World to a visual format
Fantastic pacing displayed in the important scenes
The entire team lead by Robin Furth did an utterly fantastic job of bringing The Dark Tower to a comic adaptation
I'm not sure who the audience is supposed to be
It's hard to say whether or not new readers to the series will be hooked by this collection
8
Good