Stephen King is famous for a plethora of works, including classics such as Carrie, Dead Zone, The Stand, It, Cujo, Insomnia, on and on, but his magnum opus is certainly the Dark Tower series, consisting of The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower (however, Stephen King has stated that he has plans for more Dark Tower novels), some short stories, and connections to almost all of his other works. Marvel has, in the past couple years, begun a series of stories that act as prequels to Stephen King’s novels, with the fourth one to come out soon. I have read and enjoyed the first four novels in the series (especially Wizard and Glass, from which most of the first volume of the graphic novel series is taken), and was excited to finally get the chance to dive into Marvel’s series.
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born recounts the flashback sections of The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, although told in sequential order without interruptions, and filling in details given in other books as well. Roland Deschain is a young man in a world slowly falling apart. His mother is having an affair with one of his father’s advisors while Roland’s father is away, and in anger Roland takes his test to become a gunslinger early, succeeding in best his teach Cort. However, with the surprise arrival of Steven Deschain, Roland’s father, and the anger of the agents of John Farson at Roland’s success, Roland and his two best friends, Cuthbert and Alain, are sent on a fact-finding mission to help Roland’s father in his war effort. However, Roland meets Susan Delgado, and falls in love, while the entire team realizes that they are in over their heads. Roland and company struggle to survive a losing battle that could have huge consequences for the war.
Under Stephen King’s direction, Robin Furth (of The Dark Tower: A Concordance fame) and Peter David (writer for a number of Marvel books, most famously his run in the 1980s and 90s on The Incredible Hulk) rewrite Roland’s tale for the graphic format, and do an excellent job. The wording is a perfect mimic of the Mid-World dialect King uses in his novels, and the important scenes are all played out without feeling forced. While the entire tale being fit into such a small page count meant that some of the extended love story of Roland and Susan is cut out, it still resonates in a wonderful way. The book moves very quickly, and the words match perfectly to the gorgeous art of Jae Lee and Richard Isanove.
This book is an excellent companion to The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, as well as an interesting introduction to the series for people who have yet to try it out. I would consider rereading this one after reading the first four novels, if you haven’t read them when you read The Gunslinger Born, as it will work even better as illustrating the framework of King’s books while letting you recall the emotional impact the novels have. I look forward to the next book in this series.