"The Tower Chronicles: GeistHawk - Volume 3" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Legendary Comics
Written by Matt Wagner
Illustrated by Simon Bisley
2013, 72 Pages
Graphic novel released on January 30th, 2013
John Tower has been busy lately. He's tracking down a variety of supernatural artifacts around the globe while working with the FBI to solve a few bizarre murders in his spare time, all the while eliminating monstrous threats whenever they pop up. It's a hard life but it's what he's resigned himself to. But why does John do all this? In Volume 3 of GeistHawk, the first collection of The Tower Chronicles from Legendary Comics, we get a small peak into the further history of this bounty hunter. It raises some new questions, but it serves to make him even more interesting.
Here's the thing: John Tower is old. I'm not saying old like he was in a few movies in the 1970's and now looks all wrinkly. I'm talking old in that he's been around for centuries. This volume reveals that in 1680, he was a pirate that would make Captain Jack Sparrow cry in his rum bottle. Going by the name Jean LaTour, Tower terrorized the seas looking for various items and trying to stay one step ahead of the Brotherhood of the Rose. The reason for this search is unclear, but it's definitely tied to a woman. As Tower appears to be ageless, I'm thinking the love of his life was killed years ago and he's dedicated the remainder of his lonely days to finding a way to bring her back. It's a noble cause, but it leaves him cut off from the rest of the world as he's so laser focused on this task.
In addition to all this, author Matt Wagner sheds some light on Tower's antagonists, the Brotherhood of the Rose. It seems that they're constantly working to block Tower and safeguarding these mystical artifacts from him. Could it be that they're trying to protect the world from whatever the man would unleash? Or is it simply a matter of an evil organization looking to gather up all the power they can? One thing is clear though: They do not know the secrets behind John Tower. They believe him to be the latest in a long line of agitators. This can work to his advantage.
The Tower Chronicles continues to be a world-spanning adventure book with loads of different monsters and a pinch of conspiracy added for good measure. The slow reveal of John Tower's background is working to pull me in with each volume. It's amazing that Wagner is able to cram this much story into such a short book. In these 72 pages, Tower fights his way out of the catacombs under the Vatican, takes over a pirate ship (in flashback), defeats a succubus, and cleans up an apartment building infested with rat-like creatures called Kobolds, all the while dropping tidbits of his past and moving the overall story along. It's never boring and nothing feels ancillary.
The stand out chapter (aside from the aforementioned pirate reveal) is the final one in this volume with the apartment building. Tower is called in to investigate a series of strange deaths that have occurred there recently. He discovers these Kobolds, which look like a cross between the ugliest rat you've ever seen and the greasiest goth teenager in the world. Actually, those two might be the same thing. You get the idea. These creatures work like little birds perched out of sight on the backs and shoulders of the people living in the building, whispering horrible things into their ears. They're telling them to kill themselves. Of course, Tower can't let this stand and puts a stop to it quickly and efficiently, while maintaining his badass nature.
Simon Bisley continues to impress on The Tower Chronicles. I like to think that Wagner is writing this book for the sole reason of finding weird stuff for Bisley to draw. I'm sure there are loads of other reasons to tell this story, but after looking at this art, I want to see what other strange creatures Bisley can get his hands on. The Kobold take the cake for the most unsettling monster in this volume, but the scariest goes to the succubus. Bisley starts with a drop dead gorgeous woman. Picture a cross between Mary Jane Watson and Christina Hendricks but hotter. Yes, I just asked you to think of a mash up of a fictional character and a real person. Just go with me here. Then, when she starts to work on her prey, she transforms into a large, red spider to suck the life from her victim. It's a literal representation of the spider woman and it works so well.
This is the penultimate volume in GeistHawk, detailing the first adventure of John Tower in the funny books. Legendary Comics has structured the comic in a unique way, choosing to release four graphic novels per storyline. You get more bang for your buck and it's a higher quality than you'd get from some of the bigger publishers. This book dives deeper into the backstory of the main character and makes it way more interesting. It's tough to read this and not immediately want to find out what's next. Fortunately, there's one more volume.