by Mike Favila, Reporter
When I first heard that Legendary Entertainment, the company behind 300 and the Dark Knight Trilogy were putting out comics, it seemed like it could be a good match. Even though the movie studios have been strip mining the comic industry looking for the last decade or so, it’s not often that the reverse occurs.
The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk Vol. 1 is only the second release from their comics division, after Frank Miller’s controversial Holy Terror. Bob Shreck, legendary (forgive the pun) editor at DC & Dark Horse, is the man in charge of the line. The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk Vol. 1 is based on concepts from Thomas Tull (Executive Producer of 300) which were then fleshed out and made into a working story and narrative by Matt Grendel, who created the excellent Grendel and Mage books. The story is broken down as a planned trilogy of books, which is not too surprising coming from a movie studio.
John Tower is Geisthawk, a mercenary who takes unique detective cases through his website and his lawyer. He’s pretty strong, carries very specialized weapons and loves to work alone. The book is broken up into three cases that Geisthawk is hired to solve.
The first episode starts with the cookie cutter damsel in distress, fleeing a would be pursuer. She runs into the cops, who are unable to protect her. Only later, when cornered, does she reveal that she is actually a supernatural owl that has possessed and deformed the woman’s body. It’s a total flip of the generic situation. It kind of reminds me of a variation on the Buffy concept, where the damsel is actually the hero. In this case, the ‘evil’ attacker turned out to be our hero. The other stories involve a scientist on the run from the mafia who suddenly disappears and a serial killer that turned out to be a child vampire. Through the stories, a few tidbits are revealed about Tower, which is just enough to make you ask more questions.
The episodes could be described as almost a supernatural noir, like Philip Marlowe, if he had some more killer weapons from the future. Each story works as a mini CSI, while slowly presenting an incomplete picture of their protagonist. I hadn’t had a good occasion to check out Simon Bisley’s work in-depth before, but here its fascinating viewing. Between his pencil work and Rodney Ramos’ finishes, they present a very unique hybrid approach. The book’s artwork is both lifelike enough to make you feel like you’re watching a movie, but with enough comic touches in the background and clothing to still keep you involved like a comic can. I’m mainly familiar with Matt Wagner for his art, but his writing is relatively efficient and not wasteful. (Bonus points for a Jim Lee cover. I’m convinced that he could make a cereal box cover look action packed.)
Overall, I really enjoyed Vol 1 of The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk. Even though the story is made up of parts we’re all somewhat familiar with, they are mixed together so effortlessly that it feels like a pretty new concept. I’ve always liked Matt Wagner’s books and the depth of their characterization, so I’m fairly confident the story will develop into something more substantial. As with any origin story, you have to establish the characters first before you blow them up and send them through their arc. I can’t wait to see what Wagner and Bisley have planned next.
ComicsOnline.com gives The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk Vol. 1 3.5 out of 5 ghost daggers through the heart!
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