Marvel and Disney Kingdoms released their new series this week – The Haunted Mansion. Taking a cue from the famed attraction, this series explores what makes the mansion so ghostly. The story follows Danny, a young boy who loves his grandpa. But, his grandpa has a tragic end that results in a connection to the mansion. As Danny goes inside, he discovers its secret, and embarks on an adventure to help the ghosts inside.
Elements of the story are taken from the possible back stories that have been known to Disney fans over the years. The very first pages mention a pirate, a bride, a doomed wedding, the headless horseman, and a psychic. All are legendary figures both in and surrounding the famed attraction at Disney parks. It’s great to see Joshua Williamson, the writer, play with these notions within the comic.
Jorge Coelho does a great job at the art. It’s not too cartoony. It’s not too creepy. It’s somewhere right in the middle of those. He also does a great job at capturing parts of the attraction in a comic representation. If you’re looking for something more akin to the attraction, this artwork is more true to a comic than ride art. Also, Danny’s characterization is good most of the time, but it somehow gets a little too cartoony when he ventures into the Mansion.
So, how does this stack up for reading material? The first issue is the beginning of a solid story. Everything seems straightforward, but it’s nice to have it this way. This is not quite the mystery like Seekers of the Weird was (another Disney Kingdoms release). It’s a mission based adventure using the famous Disney attraction as its fuel. From this issue, we know the players, we know what’s at stake, and we are thrust into the action with a cliffhanger at the end. It’s just a great start!
Still, is it worth it for anyone to read? I’d say yes. There’s a great cast of characters. There’s a solid story to go by. It’s just a fun book with great art. It’s one of the few from Disney Kingdoms that’s great for regular comic readers. A simple story may seem like something comic readers would avoid, but I think having this basic framework makes for a fun series. The Haunted Mansion has always been more about the potential of characters and their stories, and not just a history of the building. There are many ghosts to explore, and that’s what this book is about.
Besides regular comic readers, Disney fans will get a huge kick out of it. There’s a few easter eggs to look at or pick up on. And, again, it’s about one of the best rides from Disney ever made. There’s been so much history with it, we now get to explore that history officially.
I also liked that it hints at an expanded universe. I hate to spoil a part of the comic, but the way the grandpa meets his demise is from an expedition up the Matterhorn. Coincidence? I think not. Disneyland has had a small story with its attraction for a long time, and I would take an educated guess that Marvel and Disney Kingdoms would want to explore this mountain more in comic form.
In all, The Haunted Mansion is a solid comic. This first issue has put it high on my list of the Disney Kingdom reads (though none of them are bad). It’s fun. It’s nostalgic. It’s just plain good ghostly reading.