Written by: Peter David
Art by: Jae Lee
Published by: Marvel Comics

I am a newcomer to the world of Stephen King’s Dark Tower, his dark fantasy opus. He has said that this is one of his most personal works, so it’s understandable he is much more hands on than he has been with some of the movie translations of his work. His partners at Marvel have spared no expense in translating this story to the comic book medium. While Stephen King oversees the production (and there is plenty of supplemental material featuring him), New York Times Best Selling Author Peter David (X-Factor, Fallen Angel, Incredible Hulk) writes the actual script. For those more familiar with the complex mythology get the appendix story written by Dark Tower mythos expert, Robin Furth. And rather than this being a case of too many chefs spoiling the soup, what we get is maximum story for our comic book dollar.

Jae Lee’s art has never done much for me in the past. I don’t know if it is Richard Isanove evocative painting over his work or what, but there is a depth to the work that I hadn’t noticed before. Clearly the assembled artistic team realizes the importance of this project and have stepped up their game in light of this. They have opted to tell the story of Roland the Gunslinger in chronological order, thus we get to experience the entire arc of the hero’s journey.

“You have forgotten the face of your father.”

Joseph Campbell, in his landmark work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, outlined the prototypical path of the hero’s mythological adventure. Campbell defines the journey this way:”A hero ventures forth from the world into a region of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

Just like the tale of Roland Deschain, the essential story, the monomyth, echoes the story of Christ. We see this pattern–separation (the reluctant hero taken from the world that he knows), initiation (the hero tested), and return (the hero returns as conqueror) in many of our great heroic epics. For the hero’s task to be worthy, he must overcome various trials and temptations.

“Ka-tet means ‘one from many,’ but more than that … It’s a group of people bound by fate—by ka—heading toward the same goal and, like as not, the same end.” –Narrator

In this first story arc, we follow the journey of Roland’s discipleship into the way of the gunslinger. The path of true discipleship would involve a change in three areas: belief (we turn to a new way of thinking), behavior (our lives become–slowly–transformed, centering our lives around living out the heroic mission), and belonging (we join a specific community).

Discipleship, simply defined, can be seen as a process of how we transform everything we do in order to “take on,” or becoming more like, a true hero. In a lot of ways, the hero seeking after their heroic “master” has to define what it means to be a disciple and what it means for them to live and work in light of that relationship. But I’m betting a thorough read of the Dark Tower stories would reveal an entire system of thought and theology wrestled out.

All of the creators come to the table ready to do justice to the epic mythology of the Dark Tower series. The mark of any great adaptation is its ability to spur interest in the original work, to spark interest in exploring the rich world of the Dark Tower. Me? I’m already hunting the original novels and, in the mean time, I’m settling in for the journey.

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