Aug 21, 2012

[Comics] The Dark Tower: The Battle of Jericho Hill

One could argue that our young hero, Roland Deschain, had seen more than enough pain, suffering and death over the course of events covered by the various Dark Tower comic books, but sadly that was not the case. After witnessing the fall of his beloved Gilead, along with the death of his family, there was still more in store for our hero.

After all, it is all these tragic events (and then some) that help shape him into the lone gunslinger that we meet in the Dark Tower books. It is these events that give him the strength of character and singular vision that sets him on the path to find the fabled tower and somehow restore balance to his dying world.

But it appears that you need to bring a man very low indeed before he can rise to greatness later on in life. And in this regard the Dark Tower comics do feel a tad depressing as they document how everything of value to Roland is taken away from him. And this is the book that strips him bare and leaves him for dead - and quite literally so.

Synopsis: The Dark Tower: The Battle of Jericho Hill was plotted by Robin Furth, onetime assistant to Stephen King. The books are set in the Dark Tower universe created by King with art by Richard Isonove and Jae Lee and scripting by Peter David.

In the dark times after the fall of Gilead, the remnants of the Association and their handful of gunslingers continue to do their best to hamper the plans of John Farson while struggling to stay alive. It has been seven years since that great battle and now Roland Deschain is a young man who is taken responsibility for this small band of survivors.

But the forces of the Good Man Farson are not satisfied with just conquering Gilead - they mean to completely change everything in this world. And the next phase of their plan begins with a massive Beam-quake as one of the legendary beams that cross the land is destroyed. And thus Roland sees his fate ahead of him - the only way to restore his world to balance is to find the legendary Dark Tower and use his powers to bring back the former glory of the peaceful years before. But to do that, he'll need to survive the machinations of Marten Broadcloak and determine the identity of the traitor in their camp.

The comic captures a moment in Roland's history that really brings him to his lowest. As much as so much tragedy has already happened in his life with the death of his family, his friends, the destruction of his own and the increasing madness that appears to be taking over Mid-World, the wheel of ka isn't quite over with him yet. And quite frankly, this is going to be pretty bad indeed.

Without a doubt, the cards are definitely stacked against Roland and the remnants of the Alliance. John Farson's army is fearsome indeed and he has key generals like the Marten Broadcloak, Edoacer Grissom and the varied forces of the slow mutants and the Troitans. And its not just a conventional army that we're talking about - they have fearsome weapons including tanks, automatic weapons and even lasers. And all the Affiliation has are a handful of skilled gunslingers and a lot of nerve and courage.

As always, betrayal remains at the heart of the plot and how Farson's plans ultimately reach fruition. And you'd think that he would have no such means at his disposal anymore given the many spies and traitors and other turncoats that he has used to bring down Gilead and the House of Eld, in a manner of speaking. You'd think that his destruction of all that made the world civilized had already been complete, but no it wasn't. And I know I already sound like a broken record just repeating this one refrain over and over but I cannot stress enough how bad things get. Because we know that all Roland has left to him along with the Affiliation survivors are his friends, his ka-tet. And even that sacred circle is meant to be broken.

But this is also the dark point where his journey eventually begins. This is the crisis point that breaks Roland completely so that he can rebuild himself and find a new path forward. This is the fire that tempers his steel and turns him into the single-minded weapon that he becomes. And his singular target and practically the obsession is his life is the goal to gain the Dark Tower itself.

The Dark Tower: The Battle of Jericho Hill is a great comic that captures a critical point in Roland's dark and blood history. I was glad to be able to experience this part of his life through the pages of this comic and eventually gained a new facet of insight into his person/. Thus we rate the comic an impressive 4.5 key character deaths out of a possible 5.

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