The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk is the first in a series of graphic albums from Legendary Comics concerning a monster hunter named Tower. In a little bit of a twist, this concept was actually hatched by Legendary Entertainment founder Thomas Tull (the producer or executive producer of Dark Knight, The Hangover, The Town, etc.) and Matt Wagner (Mage, Grendel, Sandman Mystery Theater). Wagner then wrote the comic, which is penciled by Simon Bisley and inked by Rodney Ramos.
Tower Chronicles has a very odd structure to it. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the somewhat episodic flow. The book opens not unlike a Bond film opens: Tower is chasing a monster. This runs 12 pages, basically half a normal comic book’s worth, before going into the first main plot of doing contract for a Russian gangster who suspects he has a problem. The second half of the book is a trip to Iowa to hunt a vampire and ends with a larger plan/conspiracy showing itself.
I had a lot of problems with the pacing of this comic and it reminded me a little of the Kickstart line of graphic novels that were adapting unplaced film and TV scripts. For instance, early on there’s a talky page and a half of the Russian gangsters climbing the cables up to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s something that would probably work better as a film scene. Likewise that initial 12 page sequence would probably be five minutes or less of an filmed version. It just doesn’t flow very well and up until the very end, it reads like 3 monster of the week adventures put into the same package.
There’s nothing wrong with them as monster of the week adventures, though the gangster errand felt a bit rushed. Nothing remarkable about them either. The Iowa vampire sequence gives some hints to Tower’s past and shows a shadowy organization pulling some monster-related strings. Again, nothing groundbreaking but it had a little more depth to it.
The story and flow would be much improved if the conspiracy was shown earlier and used to link the episodes.
Art-wise, this is a very subdued Simon Bisley. The wild Bisley art I’m most familiar with only shows up when a monster appears. There are a lot of pages where the art reminded me of Paul Gulacy more than it did Bisley. That’s not a bad thing and it’s well drawn on the whole. Just more photo realism as a baseline than you might be expecting from the former Lobo artist.
On the whole, I’m not really what to think of this as a package. It’s not a discrete unit, per se, so much as a couple stories and an extended chase scene thrown together in a book. It’s competently done, but there’s a certain generic quality to it. Worth flipping through if you’re into pulpy horror/adventure mash-ups. If that’s not your thing, probably not worth looking at.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.