Legendary's Tower Chronicles Off to a Mundane Start

With iconic creators Matt Wagner and Simon Bisley coming together to work on the title, most fans and critics expected The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk #1 to be a smash. The first of 12 prestige format volumes, the stories will come together to tell the story of John Tower, a supernatural bounty hunter whose stoic exterior will gradually reveal that there's depth and humanity behind the gruff mask after all.

And all of that is on display here, along with a female FBI agent who has paired herself with him and a series of early "missions" that showcase his skills and his penchant for brutality. Wagner has compared Tower in these early issues to Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name, a grizzled drifter who lets his actions speak for him. It's not an unfair parallel to draw, except that The Man With No Name always managed to seem legitimately complex and genuinely troubled. Everything with John Tower is right there on the surface, leaving nothing to the imagination and, thus, making everything feel artificial.

Simon Bisley's art gives the whole thing a sense of the surreal, but that's undermined by the fact that everything that happens can be seen from five pages away. The dynamic between Tower and his FBI handler feels distinctly like The X-Files, as she's constantly telling him how she doesn't believe in his abilities and he's constantly ignoring those criticisms in favor of pursuing his agenda. It's not the best work that either Bisley or Wagner have done.

Legendary is, of course, a movie studio first and foremost and while John Tower won't be greenlit until and unless the comic is a bona fide success, the whole thing certainly feels like what a movie studio executive's idea of a great new comic book should be.

All of the hallmarks of trendy, European comics are here: it's a book that's full of violence, and sex, and morally ambiguous characters who all revolve around a lead you don't want to like. He's a mountain of a man, who demands a high, non-negotiable rate for his services and drives a ludicrously fancy car.

And there's nothing particularly bad about this book, except that the sex and violence don't seem to serve a purpose. It just isn't worthy of the talent working on it, and if--as Wagner said--he was brought in because they wanted someone who could say no to the boss (Thomas Tull, Legendary's owner, developed the concept with Wagner), it appears as though he either failed, or has a decidedly Hollywood-friendly sensibility himself, the volume feels like any number of B horror movies that you see in theaters around this time every year.