My rating is 2 out of 5 stars.
I was killing some time at a Barnes & Nobles bookstore the other day and picked this graphic novel up. I’m a sucker for anything dealing with Roland the Gunslinger, especially back story regarding his younger years, so I figured this was a “can’t miss” for me. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
The story itself begins right after the death of Susan Delgado, as told so hauntingly by Roland the Gunslinger in “Wizard and Glass,” Dark Tower IV. Here, an emotionally devastated Roland and his friends have slipped into the town of Hambry to cut down Susan’s charred body from the Charyou Tree, as Alain and Bert argue about whether this was an idiotic idea. Naturally, things turn toward the supernatural quickly as Roland “loses” it, firing at Maerlyn’s Grapefruit, which instantly turns into an eyeball with tentacles. Said running eyeball attacks Roland, enthralling his soul, even as it incapacitates him. Of course- at this moment – a bunch of local thugs and the last Big Coffin Hunter appear, beginning a chase of our three friends, which drives the frenzied plot forward the rest of the book.
In my opinion, “The Dark Tower: Long Road Home” should best be viewed as a tribute to Stephen King’s original story. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this graphic novel, because it is enjoyable, the fondness a reader feels while viewing it is mainly nostalgia from the return to King’s Mid-World, not an enjoyment from the story itself. No doubt, this tale was meant to be a “filler” of the events narrated in Wizard and Glass and the first Dark Tower book, but Peter David’s narrative really just bounces around through events already mentioned in the Dark Tower novels without adding anything new to them. Well . . . in fairness to Mr. David, it does add one new tidbit: what became of poor, old Sheemie from Hambry. But even this bit of lore, which was the most interesting story arc in my opinion, was merely okay, nothing more than that.
As for the artwork, many of you will no doubt love the scenes created by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove here. Truly, the images spring off the page at a reader, bringing the story to life in a world filled with bright, bloody, red mist and autumnal twilight. Everywhere one looks there are shadowy faces, barren lands, ghastly pursuers or vicious beings of techno-magic. Even during the dream-like sequences, Roland is shown trying to maintain his grip on sanity while existing in a hazy landscape full of withered trees, or “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” on acid as I viewed it.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with the backdrop that Lee/Isanove created for this story to move upon. No doubt, it arguable captures the horrid situation Roland the Gunslinger is experiencing internally at the death of Susan, his one true love, but it grew repetitive and overblown to me. After a few pages, the red, brooding background faded away as I tried to focus on the story, and in a graphic novel, this is not a good outcome for an artist. When reading a graphic novel, I personally want the artwork to both compliment the story and evoke some feeling within me, make me stop reading to soak in the backdrop, in awe of what the artist has created here. I never felt that in “Long Road Home,” just a constant sense that everything is red and dead.
If you’re a Dark Tower junkie you probably should pick this up. If nothing else, it will satisfy your need for another “hit” of Roland the Gunslinger. On the other hand, if you’ve never read the Stephen King novel, I doubt this one would interest you at all.