"The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk - Volume 2" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Legendary Comics
Written by Matt Wagner
Illustrated by Simon Bisley
2012, 76 Pages
Graphic Novel released on November 28th, 2012
After a great introduction in the first graphic novel, the background of John Tower is explored in this second volume of The Tower Chronicles. Picking up literally right after the previous book, Tower and FBI agent Alicia Hardwicke regroup. This woman has just seen an eight year old girl turn into a vampire, so she has a few questions. The supernatural bounty hunter fills her in on some of his exploits but still leaves his past clouded in mystery.
There's a reason that John Tower hunts monsters for a living. It's not just because it pays well. He's trying to avenge someone's death. Al of his actions are made in some way to honor this deceased person. We don't get much in the way of details, but the thoughts that go through Tower's head as he enters a new battle reveal enough for us to create some theories. Whoever this person is, they clearly meant a lot to him and odds are they died in a pretty horrific way at hands of some supernatural creature.
The bulk of this volume is actually backstory as we hear about a previous encounter our hero had with Davros, the vampire responsible for the creation of the eight-year-old monster from the last book. When they last crossed paths, Tower was hunting a bog-wight that was nabbing African American children during the Civil Rights Movement. Davros was passing through the area on his way to Mardi Gras to have a little fun. He caught the scent of the scared little girl that Tower had just saved and wanted to get a quick snack for the road. The two left without any shots fired, but it was clear that they had a history and it would not end that night.
In addition to this background, there's a story of Tower's escapades during World War II. He took a job from the Nazis to take out some Allied troops. He used the Germans to get close to a cache of ancient magical artifacts. This story – as well as another one in the book that has the bounty hunter dealing with a zombie of sorts – is told from the point of view of others. Tower is just a player in the memory that's being shared. It's interesting to hear how other people describe the man, but if he was able to participate in WWII, there's definitely something more than human going on with Tower. He would be pretty old by this point.
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All of this serves to lead Tower to his next mission, an extermination in the Vatican in one of their secret vaults. They've established that he'll do just about anything to get his hands on certain mystical items, so Tower would jump at the chance to get this close to a horde of them. Of course, it's a set up.
John Tower is a pretty cool character all around. He has the no-nonsense attitude that you've seen in other characters that hunt monsters to save the world. Unlike organizations like the B.P.R.D., Tower gets paid for his kills and as a result, he lives rather comfortably. That's not to say that his life is easy. He's clearly a tortured soul with a lot riding on his conscience. He doesn't let the pursuit of the all mighty dollar get in the way of his morals or his goals, despite the fact that he worked with the Nazis once.
Simon Bisley turns in some great art in the second volume of The Tower Chronicles. He manages to make the main character look brooding and menacing in every panel that he appears. You know right away that this man is not to be messed with. There's a panel towards the beginning of the book where Tower pulls out a sawed-off shotgun and blasts a monster right in the face at point blank range. His teeth are gritted and there's not an ounce of uncertainty about him. This guy is badass.
While Bisley can make John Tower look awesome, the creatures are where things get interesting. The bog-wight at the start of the book starts out like a normal person but quickly transforms into a large snake with two smaller snakes for eyes. It's such a strange but incredibly creepy look. The zombie that he takes out later on is like something you'd expect from the Goon. It's disgusting and filthy. The first time you see it in the light it's eating a human foot. It's disturbing.
The Tower Chronicles is set up in an interesting way. A trilogy is planned, but each chapter is broken up into four volumes. This is the second volume of the first part called Geisthawk. I have no idea what that means yet, but I'm not bothered by it. Author Matt Wagner has created a fast-paced supernatural action comic. It doesn't get old and it's never boring. The mystery surrounding John Tower is vast and you can't help but get drawn into his story.