Wednesday, February 07, 2007

My Ka: $3.99 a month for Seven Months

Well over a year ago, Marvel put out a press release trumpeting that Stephen King would be producing his first-ever comic. The very carefully worded release, very deliberately I'm sure, gave off the impression that King would be writing the comic and that the content would be new stories about the young Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, the central character in King's epic seven-novel Dark Tower series.

Over the last year, it became clear that the comic would not actually be written by, but merely overseen by, King, (Peter David does the actual scripting) and that it would be primarily a retelling of stories already told in the Dark Tower novels.

Today, the first issue of the series was released. And, because it's Stephen King and I simply could not resist, I bought it.

And liked it. Mostly. No; it's not what I had imagined when I first read that press release fifteen or so months ago. But it is a faithful and engaging translation of the deep and wonderful world King created through those seven novels. Peter David does a faithful job of aping King's style and of appropriating all of the relevant modes of speech, dialects, and lingo the novels are written with. But artist Jae Lee, as respected and obviously gifted as he is, seems the wrong choice for this world. The bizarre mix of Old West, sci-fi, and fantasy that King stirred up to create the world of the Dark Tower requires a less polished and abstract style than Lee's, a less pretty style. for all of Lee's talents, his faces have a certain sameness to them,and his rendition of the young Roland looks pretty much like all of his previous young, arrogant, vaguely Asian-looking protagonists. I was hoping for a more muscular style, a grittier, more realistic look that could better capture the wasted landscape and weathered characters King describes.

Be that as it may, there's something to be sad for the fact that I will continue to get the monthly issues of this book despite my heavy misgivings about the art, and despite the fact that I know the story already and expect to be surprised by very little. And maybe that something that's to be said is more about my gullibility and weakness in the face of the mighty Marvel hype machine. But maybe it says something as well about the enduring power and heft of the world and characters King has created. Most likely, of course, it's a little of both.

Until Whenever

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