I don’t care if you don’t read, or have never read, “comic books,” or dislike fantasy, or hated The Dark Tower series as it unfolded Stephen King‘s epoch, and oft-delayed, vision. I must nevertheless tell you this: If you appreciate great literature, you should be buying and reading and following Marvel Comics’ adaptation of The Dark Tower. All of the elements of great literature—passion, tragedy, pathos, irony, and nobility—are included within, in great and equal measure.
If I may, please let me recap what the creators of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: Fall of Gilead—Robin Furth and Peter David in collaboration on the narrative, and Richard Isanove on the artwork—have been doing with this volume and the three that preceded it. Their intent is to tell the opening of King’s opus in linear and in comic book form, with some additional first-class mortar added to King’s solid brick masonry. The result is a story with which you may already be familiar, with additional elements newly revealed, all told from a new perspective and with King’s approval and blessing. The result—with Fall of Gilead, four hardbound volumes to date, each of which collects a six-issue story arc as well as two sets of covers for each issue featured therein—is a flawless execution of storytelling born of concept, story, and art.
There is deep and dark tragedy within the pages contained between the binding of Fall of Gilead, and it is spooned out in heartbreaking, incremental pieces. Fall of Gilead begins with a crack or two in the foundation, which leads to other cracks, and then collapse. All of the above are occasioned by magic, bewitchment, betrayal, and passion. Indeed, it begins, as does everything, with sex, as the Magician, Marten Broadcloak, seduces the wife of Steven Duchain, Lord of Gilead, while she in turn is murdered by Roland the Gunslinger, her own son—by accident, but murdered nonetheless. The opening chapter, “The Sorcerer,” originally published as a standalone work, serves as an epilogue, if you will, to Treachery, the volume that immediately preceded it, and as a prologue to Fall of Gilead. “The Sorcerer” reveals more, but not all, of Marten’s grand scheme, providing additional and horrific explanation to what has gone before and provides the six chapters that, as published issue by issue, constitute the Fall of Gilead story arc. One by one, many of the friends whom we come to love over the course of the previous three volumes are irrevocably, horrifically lost, their passing made all the more terrible as much by the nobility of their death as by the offal-encrusted hands of those who cause them. Isanove’s art is unflinching here. The unadorned cruelty of Broadcloak and John Farson, the dark lord who believes that Broadcloak is in his employ (and who may be in for a surprise before all is done), and the betrayal of Gilead are unflinchingly portrayed as well. As with the prior volumes, the script by Robin Furth and Peter David is the equal of the art, a seamless story that respects the original foundation while creating something that is new and yet familiar, like a ghost memory come to life.
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower adaptation in general, and Fall of Gilead in particular, is nothing less than the dark matter of nightmare brought to vision.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 20, 2012