This Wednesday, the third issue of Marvel's adaptation of Stephen King's Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born comes out, and I think this is the best issue of the series to date (Click here to see seven preview pages from the comic).
In this issue, we see the future Gunslinger, Roland, enter the town of Hambry, and find that the city he thought would be a sanctuary is anything but, while at the same time, he meets with the love of his life, Susan Delgado.
The artwork by Jae Lee is stunning, as you can tell from the cover above. However, for more evidence, just check out these two pages from the beginning of the comic (click on the image if you want to enlarge it)...
What I am even more impressed by, however, is by the nuanced writing of Peter David, who is adapting the story from Stephen King's work and Robin Furth's plots.
The control that David has over the dialogue in this work is expertly done. With the beautiful artwork of Jae Lee, it is almost like watching a stage play being performed for me, with the dialogue and the artwork mixing together wonderfully.
The economy of the work is impressive as well, as everything said in the book seems to have a purpose. There is no excess fat here, we're getting just the meat of the story.
This issue also gives us some examples of the evil of the villain Farson, where David also shines, throwing a little humor into the sadistic nature of Farson, as his men are betting on how far he can send a human head flying.
Later on in the book, Roland and his compatriots get into an altercation with the bad guys (the "Big Coffin Hunters") in a scene that, done poorly, would have been one of the hammiest scenes you could ever imagine. However, once again, the sheer control that David exerts over the story manages to turn what could have been a silly scene into probably the highlight of the book - making a joke scene into something serious and intriguing.
The relationship between Roland and Susan is displayed in the issue mostly through the reactions of OTHER characters, and there is a wonderful scene where the two characters express their feelings for each other without saying a word - just by facial expressions. We see Susan following Roland's eyes until she sees what he sees, and knows why what he sees disappoints him so.
I was not a big fan of the previous issues, but now that the main characters are finally in Hambry, the series has picked up tremendously for me.
As for criticisms, I suppose some more time could be devoted to Cuthbert and Alain, Roland's friends (I believe the King term is ka-tet. That's another thing, following King's Dark Tower dialect is really simple). But it is understandable, what with the page constraints and all, that they would get a bit short shrift. Each friend got their own glory moment in the aforementioned altercation with the bad guys.
This issue sets up a lot of the future stories, and I think it did so very well. I look forward to the future interactions between Roland and Susan and Roland's ka-tet and the Big Coffin Hunters.