Sunday, May 22, 2011

We Can Still Drink His Pleasure: "The Little Sisters of Eluria" #4

Here ya go, have some nightmare fuel:

If that isn't the worst thing you've seen today, then brother or sister, I don't wanna know what you been lookin' at.

Actually, here's something entirely unrelated, but even worse:

That's the worst thing I've seen since the photos of those Pakistani spider-cloud trees, and if you don't know what those are, do yourself a favor and never find out.

Wait ... why am I here...?


Oh, yeah; Stephen King comics.  Right-o!  Here's a review of Marvel's "The Little Sisters of Eluria" #4.

Issue #3 was a low-point for the entire Dark Tower comics series thus far, in my opinion, so surely #4 has nowhere to go but up, right?  Right.

And it's a very good issue, on the whole.  That's not to imply I have nothing negative to say (I do); but we're back to mere nitpicks as opposed to wholesale disapproval, which is a relief.

Let me go ahead and get one of those nitpicks out of the way.  Here is a bit of Roland's dialogue from page 2: "She's going to get me out of here," he says, after reading the note Jenna has left beneath his pillow.  "Sister Jenna is really going to do it."  That doesn't sound like Roland in the least, to my ears.  The desperation, the helplessness; the tone of these words imply too much weakness, and while it's true that even in the novella Roland expresses self-doubt over his ability to escape the Sisters, he never sounds this weak.

But that's a minor problem, and it's better to dwell on what this issue gets right, which is almost everything else.  The pacing is terrific, and the issue is divided between three major events in the story: the Sisters do for Abraham; Ralph (the bowler-hat-clad slow mutant) pays a visit, and does for John Norman; and Sister Jenna does for Sister Coquina.  None of this feels rushed, nor does any of it feel belabored -- Robin Furth and Peter David have done a great job with adapting these events.

Also doing good work, as usual, are Luke Ross and Richard Isanove.  Some of my favorite panels in this issue include: the five craven Sisters approaching Abraham, candles lighting their way (p. 3); two of the Sisters with some of Abraham's likely-still-warn blood at the corners of their mouths (p. 6); Ralph -- who looks a bit like Ron Perlman -- asking for whik-sky and 'backky (p. 13) and then indignantly reiterating his desires (p. 15); Sister Mary looking at Ralph with all the hate she can summon (p. 15); Ralph tearing out John's throat (p. 17); the Sisters trying not to let John's blood go to waste, while Ralph makes a hasty exit (p. 18); Sister Jenna, looking mighty fine in plaid and jeans with holsters around her hips (p. 21); and Sister Coquina, terrified as the doctor bugs swarm all over her body, their intent not to heal but to disperse (p. 23).  This is all great stuff, and I already regret that Luke Ross isn't coming back for the next arc in the series, "The Battle of Tull."

A couple of things before I shoot out of this post.

First of all, how, exactly, does Jenna get Roland's revolvers away from Sister Mary?  Am I to believe that Mary just leaves 'em lying around for any old trollop to swing by and abduct them?  That hardly seems likely.  Of course, this is a flaw in King's novella; it's never explained there, either.  I do wish Furth had addressed this somehow in the comic.

Finally ... well, I suppose I can't let the post come to a climax without mentioning the scene in which the Sisters, finding themselves deprived of Roland's blood, decide to consume a different kind of warm, sticky fluid from him.  This leads to what I can only assume is the first handjob in the entire history of Marvel Comics.  I mean, sure, I'd imagine that a lot of them happened between issues (of Cloak and Dagger, for example), but nobody ever drew it.  Ross does about as tasteful a job with this one as could be managed, but still, it's a bit odd to be writing about vampires who will take man-yonnaise when blood isn't available.

It's also a sticking point with me that Roland blows his load so quickly.  That, too, is straight from the novella, but it would have been somewhat amusing for Sister Mary to have to put some shoulder into it, and see her look increasingly exasperated and bored over the course of two or three pages; maybe even have to have Sister Tamara sub in for her.  As for Peter David's contributions, I could have done without the lame narration: "A hand reached beneath the bed dress...," our narrator says, then quips, "... and touches his, uhm ... tower..."

Really?  We're going to just make a Dark-Tower-equals-boner joke?  No subterfuge about it, even?


Still, it's a good issue ... and "The Little Sisters of Eluria" #4 wasn't too shabby either!


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