Review: ‘The Tower Chronicles: GeistHawk’ #1

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“The Tower Chronicles” makes its debut with the first of four installments of GeistHawk, as part of an eventual larger trilogy. The book comes from the new publisher, Legendary Entertainment, the comic book component of the famous Legendary Entertainment production studio which has produced blockbusters like the Dark Knight Trilogy and 300. The co-creator and writer, Matt Wagner exceeds all expectations with a story that flows with action and eeriness from start to finish. Accompanied by art from Simon Bisley, a master of his own trade, “The Tower Chronicles: GeistHawk” #1 offers plenty more than your typical demon-bounty-hunter story.

WRITTEN BY: Matt Wagner
ART BY: Simon Bisley
PUBLISHER: Legendary Comics
PRICE: 9.99
RELEASE: September 26th

“The Tower Chronicles” follows protagonist John Tower, a super natural bounty hunter, who may charge a lot for his services, but always gets the job done. The book begins by exploring the type of work John deals with on a daily basis. Unl thiike a lot of supernatural bounty hunter stories, where the protagonist focuses on a specific type of evil, Wagner makes it clear from the start that John Tower dabbles in every aspect of the supernatural. The opening chase scene is cinematic in nature – not surprising given that it’s published by Legendary – but it serves as a prime introduction to John’s gritty world. The narrative, as told from John’s perspective, is often curt, yet there are subtle hints of a man who is more than just a demon hunter. As the character exposition continues, it becomes clear thats first volume is merely a glimpse into a world that has huge potential.

The story takes a quick spin as a suspicious Russian mob boss hires Tower to prove the death of a man who stabbed the mob in the back. Thanks to Tower’s hard-boiled detective work, he discovers that the dead man is, as the mobsters feared, not quite dead. This part of the story takes place in a laboratory/library filled with ancient books and vials that helps to set a particularly chilling mood, showing off the paranormal horror aspects of “The Tower Chronicles”. After Tower deals with the mob’s problems, the story transitions smoothly to an FBI case about a gruesome serial killer. FBI agent Alicia Hardwicke turns to John Tower in a moment of desperation, fearing this killer might be a bit over her head. By transitioning from demon to ghost to monster, Wagner ensures that John Tower will be fending off a mixed bag of ghouls throughout the series to keep things fresh.

It seems clear that Wagner’s goal with “The Tower Chronicles” is to mesh genres, and it works very well for the most part. John Tower is essentially a costumed hero – perhaps a bit too much at points. At times he gives off a Batman vibe, and at others he gives off a Rorschach vibe. Underneath his dark demeanor and stolid attitude is a troubled man, and though we don’t see much of this yet, it assures us that there is much more to this character under the muscly surface. Wagner mixes the superhero tropes in with elements horror, mostly brought about through Bisley’s fantastic monster designs. On top of that there are elements of dark fantasy and pulp fiction that I hope to see more of as the series progresses.

John himself is a secretive character; the use of the narrative throughout the story gives us the only real insight into his past since it’s written to a lost love. The narration also does an excellent job revealing the mood. Tower gives a play by play during battle scenes with the speedy vampire-monster which offers a sense of how dire his situation is. The dialogue, despite some cheesy lines, and all too film-like moments, works for the image Legendary is trying to build.

Simon Bisley does an outstanding job with the characters and their movements, but his real talent lies in delivering amazing backgrounds in every panel. In an interview with Matt Wagner, he mentioned that he was blown away, not only the talent and skill of Simon, but the complete suitability for this book. Reading this issue, it’s easy to see why Wagner was so pleased. Ryan Brown does a fantastic job coloring this book to give each panel a painted look. However, the panel layouts are all too generic, which sometimes make it feel like you’re reading storyboards. With so much creativity, I would have hoped for the panel layouts to be a little more diverse.

While the book is to be praised for it’s genre melding and entertainment value, it’s far from perfect. I’m disappointed to come across dialogue that replaces curse words with characters like, “!@#$”. I know it allows for younger readers to take part in the action, but it irks me to see it in a book that has no problem offering nudity and grossly sexualized women. FBI agent Alicia Hardwicke is written as a strong female character, yet Bisley gives her the ass and tits of a porn star that bust out of her skin tight pant-suit. Some elements of the story feel a bit forced, giving it that all-too-familiar studio feel.

“The Tower Chronicles: GeistHawk” #1 is an incredibly solid comic. Wagner and Bisley are the perfect team; together they are building an epic story that will put Legendary on the map as a serious publisher. The next book drops in November, and though I hate that its coming out bi-monthly, it gives everyone a chance to sink their teeth into this first installment. “The Tower Chronicles” should not be overlooked by genre fans.

It should be noted that this is a beautifully published volume. It’s a 68-page story, no ads, a nice cover, interior flaps, and thick pages all for under ten bucks. It’s well worth the cash.

4/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – GreenBasterd