Christmas is creeping up on us, and as always, this time of the year makes me think of things from my past that still bring me joy to this day. That’s why I decided to choose to once more take a look at King Kong, a giant movie monster that has always brought me joy, and what better way to kick off our countdown to my Christmas Eve update then to do a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update that breaks down Kong Skull Island and the Legendary Comic prequel comic series released to promote it. Now I am sure some of you readers are saying “What!? Kong Skull Island is not a Horror Movie but an Adventure film!” My answer to that is that I have always considered King Kong and Godzilla films to be giant monster horror films that have elements of fantasy, adventure and science fiction…plus if Fangoria and other horror magazines covered Kong, then it has elements of a Horror Movie. So let’s sit back and take a look at From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Kong Skull Island.
Before we explore Skull Island we should first take a look at its ruler, King Kong! King Kong is a massive giant gorilla that stands about 104 feet and makes his home on Skull Island. He is very protective of his home and most of the creatures and primitive humans that live on it. No one is really sure where King Kong and his massive family blood line came from; all that is known that in the Legendary Pictures timeline is that he’s the last of his kind up to this point. He is massive in stature and stands more like a human than a primate and is super strong as well as smart when coming to survival. He also uses the land around him to his advantage, and while not overly aggressive toward man, he could easily kill one in seconds. King Kong uses his pure power and size to crush, smash and pummel his target. He also can use his fists to deliver massive hits to his enemies and can use his huge sharp teeth to rip and tear his foe. His brain allows him to make better decisions, making him more dangerous than most of the monsters his size. We should also note he can use things like trees and chains as weapons! But while Kong is massive, he does have weaknesses like all living creatures such as fire, bullets, bites and beatings. All can hurt and even possibly kill him. King Kong also bleeds and wounds effects him like they would normal gorillas. But while he can be hurt, it’s very hard to keep King Kong down as his heart and will to survive is a true force of nature.
So now that we know the power and attack style of King Kong, we should take a look at the film that this version of Kong comes from. The film’s write up will be coming from our friends at IMDB and it will be followed up with a little production history of the film as well as some of my memories of watching it for the first time. So let’s dive into the movie that inspired this comic mini series.
Kong Skull Island (2017)
“A washed up monster chaser convinces the U.S. Government to fund a trip to an unexplored island in the South Pacific. Under the guise of geological research, the team travels to “Skull Island”. Upon arrival, the group discover that their mission may be complicated by the wildlife which inhabits the island. The beautiful vistas and deadly creatures create a visually stunning experience that is sure to keep your attention.”
In 2014, Legendary Pictures was going to team up with Universal Pictures to make a King Kong movie, but this plan quickly changed when Legendary switched to Warner Brothers in order to add Kong into the world of Godzilla. The next step for them was to find a director and many names were suggested like Guillermo del Toro, but they ended up picking Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Next up was the script that had lots of writers attached with names like Max Borenstein, John Gatins, Dan Gilroy and Derek Connolly and the finished product had elements from each writer’s ideas. Next they worked on the design and look of King Kong for the movie and then cast names like John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson for major roles. On October 19, 2015 filming started, and it was over all a smooth production that ended on March 18, 2016. The only bump this film had was a lawsuit from writer and artist Joe DeVito who wrote about Skull Island and felt this film stole many of his ideas. The film’s budget was $185 million and brought in $168,052,812.00 at the US Box Office and $398,600,000.00 foreign. The film was also scored by Henry Jackman, and his music was very well done and fitting. The film was # 20 for the year and beat out such other Horror and Sci-Fi films as Split, Annabelle: Creation, The Mummy, Alien: Covenant, The Shape Of Water and Happy Death Day to name a few. The film was meet with mix reviews from critics and fans with most finding it very enjoyable.
Kong Skull Island was one of my most anticipated films of 2017 and was one of the films that I along with my gal Juliet and friend Jeremy Hoy went to on opening night at Cinemark Dayton South. I was blown away by it as the film lived up to what I wanted and that was King Kong fighting other giant monsters with a fun human story. On my “Matt Goes To The Movies 2017” update Kong Skull Island was my top Horror Film of the year. Since I was a youngster, I have always been a big fan of King Kong and when this film was released I made sure to get the film on DVD as well as got the CD of the score that I have played on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO Public Radio. Kong Skull Island leads to Kong’s next appearance for Legendary Pictures in 2020 that will have him taking on Godzilla with the makers of this film saying there will be a clear cut winner! While I also really love Godzilla, I am cheering for King Kong as he has the brains and raw power to stop Godzilla’s rampage and rage. Do yourself a favor if you have not seen this film yet and make sure to check it out as it’s a giant monster film packed with action and adventure and even a little horror.
Kong Skull Island was a prefect choice to make a comic series based around it, as the movie starts with a young Kong with his family already dead. So this comic series brings his past to light and allows us to witness the sadness and rise of Kong to really be the King of Skull Island. I also really want to say that I have been looking forward to sitting and reading this comic series since it was released as I truly do enjoy King Kong in films, comics and novels and this one being tied to the newest film in the Kong series really peaks my interest. I want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for getting me these issue for my pull file and would like to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s see what Legendary Comics brings to the table with this mini series.
Skull Island The Birth of Kong # 1 **1/2
Released in 2017 Cover Price $3.99 Legendary Comics # 1 of 4
The year is 2012, and a group of sailors find a Monarch recorder and return it to the company. It turns out that the recorder belonged to Aaron Brooks, a solider for the company and son of Houston Brooks that has been missing sense 1995. Houston unlocks the recorder and starts to listen to Aaron’s words. He lead a team to Skull Island as he doesn’t trust Kong to keep the islands’ monsters in check. Before Aaron and crew can land on Skull Island, they are attacked by giant flying monsters that cause them to have to leap out and the pilot and helicopter to crash. As Aaron and his crew move, they are attacked leaving one of his people dead and another missing a leg when dinosaurs attack, and if not for Kong they all would have been killed. After they regroup, they are soon greeted by natives who are speaking English, showing that Skull Island is changing!
Skull Island has become a place that has been hidden and kept secret by the government and Monarch as they just keep an eye on it as well as its King the great ape named Kong. But a young worker for Monarch does not think it’s right that the world does not know about the monsters on the island as well as relying on Kong to keep the monsters in check, so he and some other hotshot workers travel to Skull Island to expose it to the world…and this was a big mistake! Aaron Brooks is a young hotshot who thinks that he knows it all and wants to expose the world to the giant monsters, and at this point all he has done is get some of his crew members injured and dead on an island he has no business being on! His crew are all go getters, but now it’s clear they are second guessing going along with Aaron’s plan. Our baddies at this point are the creatures that live on the island, and they are just hungry and want to eat what they can kill. Kong himself appears briefly as he smacks away man eating dinosaurs who were eating our cast for lunch, and as quickly as he saves the day he also disappears. The Natives seem to be educated, which makes you wonder who has taught them and why they think Aaron and his crew are special and been foretold would come for decades. This first issue is a build up for our mini series, and while good, is a little slow and bland and thus far only adds a hint of Kong and a heck of a lot of Aaron and his cocky way. The cover is great and very eye catching for fans of King Kong and the interior artwork is good but not my style and is done by Zid. Over all this is a good issue but nothing special, and I am looking forward to issue two and hope Kong has more of a part and we get some answers to questions this issue has presented.
Skull Island The Birth of Kong # 2 **1/2
Released in 2017 Cover Price $3.99 Legendary Comics # 2 of 4
Aaron and his crew find themselves the guests of the IWI who are nursing them all back to health and are telling them that they have been waiting for them to come. Aaron finds out that one of the young tribesmen learned English from Hank Marlow, a downed U.S. air force pilot who taught his father many years back. Aaron also begins to notice one of his own men is becoming addicted to the juice the natives are given them and is having visions of the islands past and the bloodline of King Kong! The young tribesman and some warriors take Aaron and his crew on a very important pilgrimage to the parts of the island and along the way they find some history of Kong and the people who live on the island and are almost even attacked by a massive water animal, but they also find old weapons left behind by Monarch from years back. But before they can use them, the mighty roar of Kong echoes out and the creature goes back into the water as Aaron and his crew gear up and head out to finally meet King Kong.
The second issue has Aaron and his crew being taken in by Skull Islands natives and being healed of wounds and shown the history of the Kong bloodline. While Aaron and most of his crew are cautious and focused, one of his members is acting odd and over drinking a juice and claiming to be linked to the island and filled with visions. Aaron is kind of just a man who rushed into something thinking he was going to be the hero of the day and in return just got his crew lost and in some cases dead. Thus far to me, he has also really come off as a self centered person who craves to be that guy who sticks it to the system. The rest of the crew are just around, and one is clearly slipping into madness and is one I think will be the downfall of not only the crew but also himself. The natives seem nice and mean no harm to the crew and even seem like they would die to protect them. Kong is not seen, and we only get treated to quick flashbacks of his family from the past. While this second issue is a good read, it also is a very slow burn and even with a monster showing up and “attacking,” nothing really seems to happen and it feels like a filler issue. The issue has no blood and scary spots, and the biggest issue this comic has is that Kong, the main attraction of the mini series, is nowhere in site. The cover is cool and showcases Kongs fighting skull crawlers and the interior art is fine and done by Zid again. Over all not much to say about this issue so let’s move onto number three.
Skull Island The Birth of Kong # 3 **1/2
Released in 2017 Cover Price $3.99 Legendary Comics # 3 of 4
Aaron and his crew, while looking for Kong, find the body of the sea monster as Kong has killed it and all the other giant beasts are coming to the area to feed. While the feeding frenzy takes place Aaron gets word from his pilot that he is alive and the helicopter can still fly and they plan to meet up in the bone graveyard and end their trip to Skull Island! When getting to the graveyard they soon find it crawling with Skull Crawlers and must take shelter in a cave and in a vision from one of the crew, they are told about the death of Kong’s parents as well as his birth that all took place on the same day…baby Kong witnessed as Skull Crawlers killed his mother and father before his young eyes. Aaron has heard enough, and as they all rush to the approaching helicopter they witness it get shot out of the sky thanks to their crazed fellow crew member who also shoots one of his own dead and demands they all go and see Kong!
This issue brings our story more on track as Aaron and his crew decide that Skull Island is not for them and just as they are about to leave, they are forced to stay due to one of their own turning crazy and downing their helicopter killing the pilot as well as one of his fellow exploring crew! Aaron in this issue is finally becoming a character that’s likable as he knows now that he has made a big mistake in coming to Skull Island to try and test the rule that Kong has over it, but while he finally sees his mistake, he still has lead three people to their deaths. The crazed crew member is a psycho who really thinks Kong is a god and is willing to kill his own friends just to be able to see the great ape in person. The Skull Crawlers are around and are as mean as ever, and lucky for Aaron and his crew they have not been spotted and became dinner…yet! King Kong is shown as a baby in a heart breaking part of this comic as he as a newborn watches his parents die! As an adult we only get to see the aftermath of his fight with the sea creature that is dead. Two things I really like about this issue is that we do get to see Kong’s parents in action as they take on a horde of Skull Crawlers and that when Kong kills something, the rest of the beast around come and feed on the corpse of the fallen. This issue has lots more action and suspenseful moments making it the best issue in the series thus far as it delivers a more classic Kong feel. The cover for this issue is heartbreaking for fans of Kong as it shows him as a baby crying over the bodies of his Mom and Dad. Interior art again is done by Zid who I should also say did all the covers as well. Over all, a good solid issue that was a fun and quick read and really does make me look forward to see what happens when Aaron and crew finally do get to see King Kong in all his hairy glory.
Skull Island The Birth of Kong # 4 ***
Released in 2017 Cover Price $3.99 Legendary Comics # 4 of 4
Aaron along with what’s left of his crew and the tribes men are being held captive by a Wildman who has lost tough with reality and is taking about blowing up the fence around the village to see if Kong will protect them all and prove he loves mankind. Aaron and the rest escape the madman when some creatures from the jungle appear and attack letting them get to the village, but they are too late to warn the villagers as the madman blows up the walls and allows giant spiders to enter who start attacking and killing any one they see. They even kill Aaron’s last crew member besides the madman and all hope seems gone, until Kong shows up and starts smashing the spiders and saves human lives. After Kong runs off the spiders, he also smashes the madman and looks at Aaron letting him know that he is as people say the true King of Skull Island and a protector of man. Aaron decides to stay on Skull Island and help the IWI rebuild the wall and sends his recorder on a small-unmanned boat into the ocean. We end back in modern times and Aaron’s dad at his retirement party tells his former co-workers that he is going on a cruise to some place warm.
Now this is what I have been waiting for in this comic series as we get King Kong beating up and smashing giant spiders and saving human lives and even taken one of a clear crazy man! The issue’s plot has Aaron and his crew being taken out one by one by the creatures of Skull Island as well as one of their own who has flipped his lid and believes he is one with the island as well as linked to Kong. The mad man also decides to test the nature of Kong and blows up the wooden fences around the IWI village allowing all the creatures to enter and attack and kill and waits for Kong to save them…what a nut and he does get to witness Kong who appears and saves the day but he also get the wrath of Kong who smashes him into the ground! Aaron learns that some secrets are best left hidden and that he must stay on Skull Island to help rebuild what he and his now all dead crew destroyed. And Kong proves that he really is the King of the island and that he does understand that he must help the weak and small humans from the beasts that make up his home. This issue is filled with action and adventure and really allows our characters to learn from mistakes and witness the wonders they questioned. Aaron who at first was an unlikable rebel character by the end turns into a guy you come to understand and cheer for as he does the right thing. This issue has violence but no gore or mass amount of blood and does have an adventure horror feel to many of the scenes. The cover is eye catching for fans of King Kong and has him doing what he does best and once more like the interiors is done by Zid. This comic mini series is a slow burn just like the Pacific Rim one I took a look at early this year, but unlike it, I found this one to be entertaining even with the lack of Kong in issues. Over all if your fan of Skull Island and King Kong in general check this series out. While it is not the best Kong has to offer in the world of comics, it’s at least a solid one with a fun story. Check out the art below to see the work of Zid and see what King Kong the 8th Wonder of the World looks like in these issues.
King Kong will always be my favorite giant movie monster and while I also love Godzilla, Kong will always be the tops for me. Plus I really do think that Kong makes for a great comic book character and hope that more issues of his rampages and adventures will come out sooner than later! Kong Skull Island was one of my favorite movies of 2017 and was a perfect film to go alongside the original 1933 film. So with this being the Christmas season and all, I think that my next update will be something everyone loves to chat about for this Holiday time of the year and that’s the 1961 giant ape film Konga! Wait what? You don’t gather with loved ones and chat about Konga over a glass of eggnog while sitting by the fire? Well if you have not, you don’t know what you’re missing! So we will be leaving Skull Island and go to London for our next update, and until then, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always enjoy your Holiday season with all your loved ones. See you next update for a Konga good time.