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The origin of King Kong and the people of Skull Island is told at last in this exciting and beautifully illustrated book. Return to Skull Island with this new mini series from BOOM! Studios and DeVito Artworks, LLC. ComiConverse Contributor Mitch Nissen is here with an in-depth look at this latest issue.
Review: Kong Of Skull Island #3
As we draw closer to the new year we also grow closer to the release of Legendary Pictures‘ new film Kong: Skull Island and hopefully the start of a new era for the king of movie monsters. However, before Kong receives his big screen reinvention BOOM! Studios and DeVito Artworks, LLC offers us a brand new prequel exploring the original world of Kong.
In 2004 a book was released by the title Kong: King of Skull Island. That book was created by famed artist Joe DeVito who illustrated and co-wrote along with science fiction authors Brad Strickland and John Michlig. The book explored the events immediately following the climax of the 1933 classic film as well as Kong’s past and his rise to being king of Skull Island. The novel paints a far more violent, gory, and terrifying depiction of Skull Island and the monsters that dwell there.
This new six issue mini series written by James Asmus, illustrated by Carlos Magno, and colored by Brad Simpson continues delving into this extension of Kong’s world and mythos created by Joe DeVito taking the story back even further. Before the 1933 film, before the prequel story in the book, this series begins before any human being or Kong ever stepped foot on Skull Island.
Issue one showed us a civilization of people divided into two clans, the Atu and Tagu, and a race of kongs living in harmony on an idyllic island. The Kongs were born and bred to fight each other for sport in boxing matches of monstrous proportions. Sailing between islands to a place to harvest crops and feed the kongs, strong winds blow the ship off course and into the waters surrounding Skull Island. “Behold… the place where death lives.”
Issue two opens with countless giant reptiles devouring every human in sight. From the water, land, and air these bloodthirsty monsters attack. With the help of the kongs they are able to right the ship, save a few people, and escape back into open waters. As they leave they turn back to watch as friends and loved ones still trapped on the island are ripped apart and eaten alive. When the ship returns home the volcano on the island erupts. Lava threatens to cover the entire island. Before ending we are given another glimpse of Skull Island seeing a lone Kong, left behind, battling for his life on the shore.
Issue three begins with the Atu and Tagu clans fleeing from their homes as chaos engulfs the island. The volcano spews fire into the sky and molten lava slowly covers the face of the island. Kongs lash out in frenzied fear adding to the terror of the people. The Kongs and those aboard the ship just returning from Skull Island disembark and begin helping everyone they can. The calm and collected kongs help as well, one of them battling and subduing the rampaging kong from earlier.
Before they can warn everyone of the powerful winds steering ships toward Skull Island, a ship full of Atu clan members sets sail. Only two ships remain without nearly enough room for supplies, the kongs, and all the people. The sick and dying are left behind, their king nobly staying behind alongside them. The ships set sail. From the deck of the ship the survivors watch as fear and madness consume those left behind, the people brutally murdering their own king, offering him as a sacrifice to quell the fury of the gods.
As before, strong winds blow the ships to the shores of Skull Island. When they arrive they see the first ship, beached, and the bodies of the dead lying strewn upon the sands. Arming themselves as well as the Kongs, they exit the boats as prehistoric beasts descend upon them from all sides.
Intense. Bloody. And friggin awesome!
James Asmus, Carlos Magno, and Brad Simpson have delivered a wonderfully nightmarish fantasy world taut with excitement and white-knuckled thrills. Fantasy storytelling doesn’t get better than this!
Carlos Magno’s art is nothing short of spectacular. He delivers very fine details in his pencils and inks. His art style is strikingly realistic, not only in its grand spectacle, but especially within the quiet and little moments. The art draws the reader further into the story transforming the shocking moments into an all the more visceral experience.
Magno is fantastic in just about every aspect of his art, but most particularly excels at the faces of the characters. The emotions of fear and terror upon characters’ faces as they are eaten by monsters look incredibly real and genuine. The horror these people endure jumps out at the reader. Emotions like happiness, malevolence, and peacefulness are also conveyed with equal precision. Whatever Magno’s using for his art references or characters studies is working well.
And the monsters! As good as Magno is at rendering human beings, the dinosaurs and the kongs look even better! During the scenes of monster mayhem and carnage I couldn’t help but recall the infamous Eclipse sequence from the manga/anime Berserk by Kentaro Miura when characters were being slaughtered in gruesome and horrific ways at every turn.
With all this detail in the art, Brad Simpson’s job with the colors must be daunting. Yet Simpson carries out his duty with care and equal precision employing an earthy color pallet to reinforce the realism. He isn’t too heavy handed with the colors allowing for the finer details of Magno’s art to show through. In the end the colors finish off the artwork stunningly and help the reader immerse themselves completely in the story.
As for the narrative, writer James Asmus has a talent for knowing when to use his words and when to let Magno and Simpson’s art do the talking. The writing compliments the artwork adding to the panic and terror engulfing most of the issue. With these three issues Asmus sets the mood between the Atu and Tagu clans with an outward appearance of civility and undercurrents of hatred. The hatred of the Atu towards the Tagu thrusts to the surface in this issue with bloody consequences.
When we meet the Atu and Tagu people in the 2004 novel they have already been fractured. Asmus sets the stage for that eventuality in believable and convincing ways. The characters in general are imbued with intelligence and resourcefulness making them appear far more three-dimensional. This story finds these characters at a time of prosperity and complacency only to take it all away, pushing their backs against the wall in the face of the worst horrors imaginable.
So far James Asmus is delivering a worthy addition to this already amazing fantasy world of Kong.
The issue ends with everyone coming ashore on Skull Island. With no home to return to and nowhere to run the next issue is poised to be a horrific and bloody action epic! Next month can’t get here soon enough!
The battle for Skull Island is about to begin.
Three issues are out so far of this six issue mini series. Each issue has sustained the same high quality levels of art and story making this book one of the best experiences of the year. Here’s hoping the final three issues will be just as good if not better.
If you love the world of King Kong and are a fan of excellent fantasy comic books give this one a try. It’s worth every penny. BOOM! Studios is nailing it with this fantastic book.
And be sure to check back here next month as we continue covering this title from BOOM!, the same studio that gave us new stories in the worlds of Big Trouble In Little China and Escape From New York.
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Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche
Source: Boom Studios
The origins of Kong and Skull Island are at last told in this new series from Boom! Studios. With a volcano destroying their home island, the natives are forced to travel to the only place left to go: Skull Island. What awaits them on Skull Island is nothing short of certain death. Amazing artwork and fantastic storytelling round out this can’t miss book.