Aug 14, 2012

[Comics] The Dark Tower: The Fall of Gilead

I'm normally rather wary of creative ventures that creep into what I'd term to be dangerous or protected geek territory with respect to an existing body of work or creative franchise. They don't often go well and they end up going into dark directions that I'd rather not know about - a very good example of this is how Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert continue to muck up the Dune universe with their various prequels and sequels to the original books.

But then having someone like Robin Furth involved in the project can certainly do wonders for a story given she has acted as Stephen King's assistant for many years and thus was witness to the original creative process behind the original books and in many ways participated in the formation of that core story. Thus she has brought an interesting perspective to Roland's history and has made sure that the comics continue to follow the spirit and tone of the original books. Combinbed with some pretty fantastic art and we end up with a very powerful comic book series indeed.

And the comics do address parts of The Dark Tower universe that were previously unknown to us readers and help shine a light on the history of the enigmatic gunslinger that we've all come to know and love in our own way.

Synopsis: The Dark Tower: The Fall of Gilead is the six-issue comic book series plotted by Robin Furth and scripted by Peter David. This series aims to depict the final fall of the almost mythical city of Gilead back in Roland Deschain's childhood and how he yet survived to eventually appear in the main books of the series. Illustrations for the series were done by Richard Isanove.

The comic picks up right where we had left off in Treachery - with Roland realizing that he had just shot his mother whom he had mistaken for Rhea of the Coos due to a false vision presented by Maerlyn's Grapefruit. Meanwhile, Vannay and Cort (Roland's teacher) now search Kingson's quarters in the hopes of finding more clues related to the Good Man John Farson. But among the items in his room is a false diary that had been laced with poison by Marten Broadcloak (as depicted in The Sorcerer), thus dooming the great Cort to a slow and painful death.

Meanwhile Steven Deschain, Roland's father, discovers that Maerlyn's Grapefruit is no longer secured from where he had locked it away. And thus he is slowly learns of truth of the betrayal his wife Gabrielle had committed against Gilead and how she had played them all for fools. It's only a matter of tie before Steven will learn of what his son had done and thus must he deliver justice that is fair to all.

The political landscape of Gilead prior to its fall is rich with complex characters, intricate plots and diabolical schemes. Marten and the rest of Farson's forces have prepared quite the complex web of conspiracies and treacheries that made Gilead's fall all but certain. And yet our heroes must do as their natures urge them to do - which is to fight against all odds and hope to find a way to uphold those ideals most dear to them.

Now the universe of The Dark Tower is one that has moved on, and thus it's never meant to be a warm and fuzzy place. Thus you're going to see a lot of rather gruesome scenes depicted rather beautifully with Isanove's art, which seems rather complimentary to Jae Lee's work on the earlier books in this series. Yes, good characters are going to die, especially given this is about how the great city of Gilead will fall. We all knew that this was going to happen - going through the comic is just about filling in the blanks and finding out how it all comes down.

It is rather disturbing to see just how vast and formidable Farson's army was at this point. Beyond sheer numbers of followers, slow mutants and other miscreants, Farson also commanded some fearsome weapons and massive engines of war. We're talking about tanks and machine guns with our heroes with nothing but revolvers to challenge his might. And despite the odds we see them fight to the very last.

These comics present a unique insight into the many tragic and often traumatic experiences that eventually shaped Roland into the grim, cynical figure that we first meet in The Gunslinger. And this was definitely a key moment in Roland's history that a lot of us Dark Tower fans were keenly interested in seeing. And I think the final result remained pretty impressive, to say the least.

The Dark Tower: The Fall of Gilead is an exercise in tragedy - we've been building up to this inevitable end and now all of Marten's (and thus Farson's) plans truly come to fruition. And you really need to be there to witness it all in order to better understand why Roland dedicates the rest of his life to seeking out the Dark Tower itself. Thus the comic rates a solid 4 great heroes of Gilead felled through treachery out of a possible 5.

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