Friday, 29 July 2016

Kong Of Skull Island #1 - BOOM! Studios

Publicised as “an original, limited comic book series… featuring the famous gargantuan ape, King Kong”, and coinciding with the increasing public interest generated by “Legendary Pictures” planned release of a “Kong: Skull Island” motion picture in 2017, the plot to Issue One of “Kong Of Skull Island” must surely have still come as something of a surprise to the twenty-two page periodical’s audience. For whilst Merian C. Cooper’s colossal-sized anti-hero does feature somewhat throughout James Asmus’ narrative, the gigantic gorilla is actually just one of several simian monstrosities referred to as "The Kong", who have been bred to compete in gladiatorial confrontations.

In fact the activities of the great warrior primates are undeniably secondary to a storyline which primarily focusses upon the mounting political tensions between the Atu tribe (who “gorge their Kong on our island’s precious limited resources) and the Tagu people (who “must sail for greener grazing -- just to ensure there will still be enough here for the people”). Certainly “BOOM! Studios” incarnation of the “prehistoric type of ape” appear to be just as much a victim of the events on Skull Island as their accompanying superstitious native sailors are, and swiftly succumb to the sudden savage attack of a giant Pteranodon flock.
Fortunately, despite its arguable lack of any titular character, the Stan Lee Excelsior Award-winner’s tale of a female Kong trainer and her beloved Prince K’Reti is rather well-written, even if it is a little too stereotypical in its portrayal of Usana as an evil, manipulative rival for the royal’s attention. The barbed banter betwixt Ewata and the various members of the arrogant Atu clan rather succinctly illuminates the fragile, patently one-sided arrangement the two populations ‘enjoy’; an understanding which presumably won’t last once the island's "comfortable" inhabitants realise they need the Tagu fleet to evacuate them before they fall prey to a volcanic eruption.

Carlos Magno’s artwork for this opening instalment of a ‘six-issue series’ is incredibly well-detailed, as his pulse-pounding drawings of the Kong battling one another attests. But whilst the Brazilian’s panels are somewhat reminiscent of an overly-cluttered Gil Kane illustration, the sheer volume of detail he depicts can at times actually make it hard to distinguish one cast member from another, especially when both Usana and Ewata are together.
Writer: James Asmus, Illustrator: Carlos Magno, and Colors: Brad Simpson 


  1. How do you find Asmus' writing? For me, his attempt at puerile comedy over at VALIANT (Quantum & Woody) has put me off his work for future unfortunately. I wonder if he handles a different style (away from 'comedy') better?

    1. I rather liked the writing for this one, Pulpcitizen. There wasn't much humour to be had tbh, except a bizarre scene where Ewata was sea-sick and one of her Kong thought she'd eaten some bad fruit. But that was soon over. I thought the acidic conversions between the two tribes was great and as surprising as the premise of gladiator gorillas is, I was left thinking it was a somewhat innovative idea.

      I'll probably be sticking with this six-issue mini-series, so if you're considering the tpb, you'll hopefully get a better idea as the issues go on. Although if the cover artwork continues to be as good as the first, then I'd recommend the comic books :-)