By James Asmus, Carlos Magno and Brad Simpson
Kong of Skull Island #1 is a nice introduction to what could be a really cool series. Any fan of the original King Kong film will be rewarded here with a franchise-approved six- issue prequel. The story is dense at the outset and clearly the results of a highly developed backstory for the legendary giant gorilla. If setting can be considered a character in and of itself, then Skull Island is the best way to flesh out any and all details in this universe. Sure, the contrast of King Kong in an urban environment was fantastic for the big screen, but there has always been an undeniable attraction to Skull Island. Whereas the 1933 film showed us the final chapter, it was obvious there was substantial history leading up to King Kong’s abduction. Now we return to the island of monsters where King Kong was found, this time lead by a creative team that’s up to the challenge.
As a comic book Kong of Skull Island barely holds onto the plot while trying to pack it all in, but hold on it does. The pacing is quick, thanks to multiple two page spreads, though dialogue-heavy at times. The spreads aren’t a bad thing, this is after all an epic story deserving of wide shots depicting massive action sequences. Within the first five pages there are two such spreads depicting more than enough satisfaction for anyone picking up the book purely for Kong-action. But the space between spreads is cramped now and then and makes for some minor pacing issues. Still, as a first issue, it pays off again and again and does a great job setting up the series.
James Asmus (Quantum and Woody) tells the story largely through dialogue without it feeling unnecessary. It sounds natural when the characters divulge their situation to the reader and not as if they are repeating themselves discussing the obvious. What saves the book from coming off too wordy is the epic scope. Right away the comic comes across with a near self-realization that it needs to be colossal through and through. That monumentality is maybe the most critical piece and Asmus nails it. It’s got a nice pulpy vibe.
None of it would be possible, though, without Carlos Magno (Planet of the Apes) who does nothing short of kicking ass on these pages. We may never see what Magno can’t draw as he pulls off one intense scene after another. His style is to use every inch of space no matter the size of the panel, but that’s what makes his larger scale artwork look so good. Gargantuan beasts or mere human beings, Magno always seems to keep things proportionate and, with a story like this, that can’t be easy all of the time.
Brad Simpson (Vengeance) brings a dynamic level to the artwork and to the storytelling. At times he uses a palette one step away from being monochromatic, which almost sacrifices too much contrast. The reader is perhaps left wondering what such a color story would have been like instead. Aside from those moments, Simpson assists in creating a world that just can’t exist, with impossible colors and vibrancy worthy of this title. Overall there’s a sense of genuine excitement from cover to cover and that is due in part to the colors.
Seriously, if your local shop doesn’t have this book on the shelf, make them order it. If the shipment is delayed, don’t give up and make sure to go back for this one.