After making a big splash in Hollywood, Legendary is making a lateral move into the comics industry under their new Legendary Comics imprint, and they’re bankrolling some big comics industry names to add to the roster. But, with this transition, they’re bringing both their filmmaking strengths and weaknesses to the process.
The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk tells the story of John Tower, a freelance bounty hunter of the dead and undead. Called upon by desperate people in dire circumstances, he serves as a last chance for those without hope. Or as Legendary founder Thomas Tull puts it, “. . . a man with a dark and mysterious past, who hunts down ghosts, ghouls and demons… for a price. And, his name is John Tower.”
To bring this idea to fruition, Tull enlisted editor Bob Shreck who brought in Matt Wagner (Grendel, Mage, Sandman Mystery Theatre) to give the tale the scope and humanity needed for a story of this type, and if anyone can deliver those two things, it’s Matt Wagner!
Operating under the aegis of the Gheisthawk Agency, Tower offers “Exclusive Aid for Paranormal Predicaments.” Contacting the agency gets a potential client a meeting with Tower’s lawyer, who vets each case for merit before referring it up the ladder. If Tower takes the case, the fees are enormous, but the results are usually stellar.
Being told in a trilogy of four-issue volumes, Tower draws from a variety of genres, moving from crime drama to historical fiction to outright horror, with vibrant artwork by the brilliant Simon Bisley, whose talents shine, especially in the action sequences; however, while vibrant, the staging of the pages doesn’t benefit from Wagner’s usual sense of style, coming across as flashy but feeling more like an outline for a film shoot than an illustrated story.
And, while initially compelling, the story feels vaguely . . . familiar so far. Almost as if cobbled together with pieces from Grell’s Jon Sable, DC’s Constantine, and a host of other sources, Tower doesn’t stand out as of yet. In one chapter, Tower assists a non-believing, red-headed FBI agent in getting to the bottom of a mystery that defies normal explanation (shades of The X-Files?). In fact, I found myself drawing comparisons to Wagner’s own epic work Grendel at times, noting that Tower has a scar drawn down one eye, mirroring that title character’s trademark signal, and even battles vampires at one point.
But, Wagner has also layered enough differences and mysteries to keep things interesting. While Tower searches for certain objects in his quest, another person is keeping tabs on him. A skirmish in an Iowa cornfield hints at a much longer history than is initially apparent. And, while Wagner is telling us the story of his exploits, Tower seems to be talking to his own ghosts, possibly his lost love. But, as death is apparently not an ending in this book, I’m looking forward to some great supernatural storytelling fireworks in the next volumes.