I finally got round to reading book 2 in the current run of Tower Chronicles (Legendary Comics) this week, in between the screaming baby and preparing to move house and migrating the website over to a new server. God help you, this is my review.
Geisthawk Volume 2 follows the continuing adventures of John Tower as he tries to rid the world of Evil by fighting it with his fists while advertising his services on his website and taking bookings through his lawyer. Along for the ride is Expositional Trope and Audience Surrogate Agent Dana Scully no no no Alicia Hardwicke. If I’m going too fast for you, please slow down and read the words again. Oh, also Tower has a big knife and an internal monologue. It’s also good.
There, now you can skip the rest of this review and go to the pub.
Or, assuming you didn’t go to the pub, here’s the meat and potatoes version…
Takes bookings to wipe out supernatural bad guys on his website? So far, so Constantine with Paypal and a silly hood; which is a shame, because to characterise Tower as that would be to do it a disservice; yes, it’s a little derivative at times, but certainly not to the point it becomes distracting. Indeed, some of the familiar genre tropes could be seen as ‘homage’ rather than plagiarism, and even though Wagner’s riffing on Constantine, Blade and Preacher (at least), the overwhelming feeling is one of a bloody good book.
I’ll rephrase that. When, in the space of five pages we get Nazis, lost religious weapons and a severed foot in a monster’s maw, the overwhelming feeling is I’m Starting To Fucking Love This Book.
Does Tower have a bigger agenda? Almost certainly. Will be given just enough hints to drive us quietly insane until Volume 3 comes out? Oh yes. The structure of this book is designed to give tantalising glimpses of Tower’s past and in the process pave the way for a contemporary Big Bad.
It’s deftly handled by Wagner who keeps the narrative trim and tight, but recognisably cinematic in pacing and character; People and events are thrown in with the almost express intent of bringing them back later (a handy function of the time-jumpy narrative device). The only genuine complaint is the slightly obvious use of Agent Exposition to fill in the gaps and introduce the world of John Tower via coffee-house chat. Were this a movie it’d be understood that we need to be shoehorned into a plot with a limited running time so we can get to the meaty bits faster: Hell, the Opening Crawl is now a cinematic staple – There’s no time to waste with backstory. When you’re writing for comics, there are more creative ways to do it. With this medium we really don’t need her along for the ride, especially as most of Book 2 is backstory anyway. I hope she gets something interesting to do before the series is done, I’d hate to see her character reduced to running about and getting into Peril.
This is clearly a team effort, and although Bisley and Wagner lead, the rest of the creative involved hold up their ends admirably. Ryan Brown does a great job of the colouring. The palette is muted, mostly blues, browns and greys, and Brown handles it with subtlety where required, saving the splashier colours for where they can make most impact; based on this and other work he’s been involved in, Brown is one to watch. Bisley does a great job of creating memorable monsters and dynamic action alongside the quieter moments. Reigning in the ‘cartoony’ style characterised in some of his Marvel work, we get a more mature approach which nevertheless allows for some outrageous confrontations alongside the cinematic scene-setting. There are some delicious gore moments and the perennial fan favourite, the double page splash.The details are nicely preserved and shadowed by Ramos on inks, too…
Although I’ve never held one in my sweaty little hands, I’m assured this is a handsome Edition. At under $10 and 68 pages with a cover by Alex Ross, it’s a great addition to any fan’s collection, especially at this time of year. Go get it!