"The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk - Volume 1" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Legendary Comics
Written by Matt Wagner
Illustrated by Simon Bisley
2012, 72 Pages
Graphic Novel released on September 26th, 2012
With their first foray into the funny book business, Legendary Entertainment is coming out swinging with The Tower Chronicles. The comic centers on John Tower, a mysterious gun-for-hire who specializes in the supernatural. He hunts down creatures of the occult and puts them down...for a fee. He's very good at what he does and that includes covering his tracks.
This first volume of The Tower Chronicles is broken up into four sections (a prologue and three chapters) that give a good introduction to this world. It seems that these monsters are popping up quite often so Tower has been well funded as of late. We're shown a variety of the types of obstacles that he comes up against, ranging from a strigoi in the form of an owl regurgitated from a woman's mouth to your typical vampires and ghosts. Tower takes them all on and he's prepared for each.
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Although this is a relatively quick read at only 72 pages, author Matt Wagner manages to drop just enough hints to an overall story throughout the graphic novel. Each chapter serves as your basic "monster of the week" formula that you'd find on a show like Supernatural (but clearly only in the first season and not in later years where they were pushing for longer overall arcs), but each establishes the players in the space and shows what Tower is really up against. There's a deep dark past lurking in this man and little is revealed about that. Instead, we're given glimpses of the people in the shadows that are keeping Tower so busy. It's a bit of a conspiracy and I'm interested enough to want more.
The idea of what is essentially a supernatural bounty hunter is a great one. All too often you see stories like Buffy where these characters are out there killing monsters and saving the world because they feel obligated to do so. They always end up flat broke and complaining about it. Here you've got Tower getting paid to put down these creatures and driving around in a fancy car when he's off hours. It's a nice spin on it, but I haven't seen enough yet to understand if Tower has a conscience or not. Will he intervene if someone needs help even if they can't afford his services? What are his policies regarding pro bono work?
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Joining Wagner on The Tower Chronicles is the legendary Simon Bisley. His art can be incredible, especially when it comes to monsters. That owl thing I mentioned above is creepy as hell on the page. Picture a huge owl struggling free from a woman's jaw, her mouth already five times its normal size with her throat a rippled mess. It's like this bird was keeping this lady together and the moment it decided to evacuate, she fell apart into a pile of skin, blood, and hair. Bisley is a fantastic artist, but there are several panels throughout the book that have some odd looking characters. People are disproportionate or they just have weird faces that look out of place in this story. These are few and far between though.
One thing that Bisley really nails is the character of Tower. Every time he's on the page, whether he's in his hunting gear or a business suit, you can tell that he's a total badass. Everything about him just screams "Don't fuck with me."
This volume of The Tower Chronicles is a nice introduction to the character and the world that he resides in. There are numerous things that go bump in the night and John Tower is there to put them to rest and get paid to do it. I would have liked a bit more story, but this is still a steal at the cover price. This is just the first part of a planned trilogy and I can't wait to check out the next chapter.