From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.168
Hello all and welcome back to our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! I hope you are all having a great 2014 thus far and those on the East Coast are recovering from the blizzard caused by the polar vortex that swiped around these parts. 2014 has been full of a lot of surprises for me, like a reference to Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion in this week’s episodes of Nobunagun (anime fans can catch this cool show simulcast on Crunchy Roll), or even more surprising for myself this week I bought two Marvel comics! I have not candy coated my vast disappointment with Marvel Comics since their Marvel Now revamp in this column, so usual readers should not be surprised with my lack-of-love, but this week they came out with two non-traditional Marvel titles, the re-release of Miracle Man (110% not a kids title for those who read this column looking for stuff for their younger ones), and the new Disney tie-in Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird. And whelp, the two interesting concepts got me over my bitterness towards the turd dubbed Marvel Now, and I made a self-agreement to crack open my first titles published by Marvel in over a year.
Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird has a lot of potential. Cool, weird creature designs that translate well to comic book form. The fact that it’s based off a concept that was going to be used for an attraction in the Magic Kingdom, designed by Rolly Crump, that never came to fruition, thus Marvel can really go wherever they want with it and they are not tied to a strict narrative, as per say basing it off attractions like Splash Mountain or the Pirates of the Caribbean. Finally, and probably from Marvel’s aspect as a company owned by Disney now, they have created a character named Uncle Roland whose visual look and personality are so incredibly Johnny Depp that one wouldn’t wonder if there was a secret agenda going on at the Mouse House to flip this mini-series into a film.
All that said, the first issue of this 5-part mini-series suffers just slightly from issue #1 story/character set-up. One of my issues with Marvel is they notoriously have grown to writing issues to be read in collected editions and not as much individual issues anymore (with the exception of a few like Hawkeye), and our first issue here tries really hard not to be an info-dump, but still is just a big set up for hopefully what will now be a non-stop rocking four issues. The comic follows teens Maxwell and Melody, whose parents run a shop called Keep It Weird, which specializes in all sorts of odd Ripley’s Believe It or Not-esque objects. Then one night somehow all these monsters, which look like two animals weirdly fused together, kidnap their parents. To the rescue comes their long lost Uncle Roland, who saves the kids and takes them off into the secret Museum of the Weird, in which he needs to collect a few ingredients to save the parents.
The different monsters and creatures are fairly cool that appear in the issue, and Johnny Depp–I mean–Uncle Roland is a pretty cool character who has a gun that fires screaming skulls! Think about that. Screaming skulls, dude. Aside from all the weird stuff, which was inspired by Rolly Crump’s designs, the thing that really stands out is the colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu on the title. It is the right mix of everything, colorful yet eccentric enough that really make the art in this comic take off and propel it into second reading territory.
Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird is a title I look forward to reading the whole mini-series through. You may want to wait until issue #2 is out and pick up 1 and 2 together to read back-to-back, or wait for the collected edition to come out, but its concept and execution could blossom into something brilliant, and if not it will still be entertaining along the way.
That’s it for this week, see you next!