By Frank DeAngelo IV
Before the fall of the great city of Gilead, before the Affiliation of Gunslingers lost the war against the devilish Crimson King, and before the Gunslinger ever followed the man in black across the desert, three young boys ran for their lives from a posse of the most ruthless hired guns in all the land.
DARK TOWER: THE LONG ROAD HOME—issue #3 shipping on May 7—continues the adventure begun in last year's Eisner award-nominated DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN, expanding on the world created by Stephen King in his acclaimed series of novels.
Reeling from the events of THE GUNSLINGER BORN where young Roland Deschain, Cuthbert Allgood, and Alain Johns journeyed to the outskirt town of Hambry to inventory the resources of the law-enforcing Gunslingers, the boys now race homeward to warn the heroic Affiliation
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that the town has fallen to enemy influence and can no longer be trusted. But disaster strikes the ka-tet, this trio bound by fate, when Maerlyn's Grapefruit, a mysterious orb that gives one the power to see anywhere at anytime, springs to life and draws Roland's consciousness into it.
With Cuthbert and Alain left to fend off the dangerous chase at their heels and care for their now comatose friend, LONG ROAD HOME writer Peter David argues that although the odds continue stacking against our heroes, they can survive if they utilize "the qualities that they already have in abundance: quick wits, bravery, and a steady gun hand." And while the brash Cuthbert and cautious Alain clash over handling the situation, David adds that he thinks "their different approaches actually complement each other."
When Roland awakens within the Grapefruit to the voice of Marten Broadcloak, an evil wizard in league with those plotting against the Affiliation, he soon realizes that this bizarre place exists in a pocket where the normal rules of time and space have no
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hold. Despite the surrealism of this pink realm, the dangers remain very real. If any hope exists for Roland to escape by his own machinations or the intervention of Alain and Cuthbert, David's not saying:
"Well, I could tell you, but what fun would that be?"
All the while, John Farson, general of the hellish Crimson King's forces, plots an epic attack against the Affiliation of Gunslingers. For long time fans, much of the war that resulted in the near extinction of the Gunslingers has remained a deeply shrouded mystery, but David notes that aspect of Dark Tower lore now hangs on the eve of its unveiling.
"The war is going to be a major factor and will continue to build as the series progresses," adds the writer, "[It will culminate] in the Battle of Jericho Hill."
In issue #2 of LONG ROAD HOME, the solemn Alain, whose reserved demeanor often gets mistaken by others for dull wits, surprised both Cuthbert and readers with a
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startling display of prowess and speed, catching Roland as he fell from a worn, rickety bridge into a deep gorge. When questioned if young Mr. Johns has any more tricks up sleeve, David replies, "Yes, but if I went into detail, they wouldn't be surprises."
Like Cuthbert and Alain, Sheemie, another supporting character introduced in GUNSLINGER BORN, has taken a step into the spotlight in LONG ROAD HOME. A simple slave boy now on the run from his abusive owners, Sheemie befriended the ka-tet when they first arrived in Hambry. Lost, confused and trying to catch up to his new friends, the boy mistakenly wandered into the Dogun, a dark place haunted by the creations of the Old People. While very little has been revealed of the Old People's culture, their technology devastated Mid-World into the barren wasteland our heroes have traversed. What initially appeared an attack from one of these robotic monstrosities instead imbued the lad with the power to teleport, but what this startling revelation will mean for our heroes David prefers to keep ambiguous:
"Whether it will have any impact at all, or simply set the scene for other elements in the world of the Dark Tower, remains to be seen."
DARK TOWER: THE LONG ROAD HOME, written by Peter David and Robin Furth with art by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, hits stores on May 7. For more Dark Tower, visit Marvel.com's Dark Tower Hub Page.