Call me crazy but whenever a amusement ride is turned into a movie or comic book I’m skeptical. More times than not it’s a cash grab to build off what was created to be a 5 to 10 minute experience. To turn that into a full fledged story must be tough, so let’s take a look at Marvel’s new series and ask the question: is it good?
The Haunted Mansion #1 (Marvel Comics)
This story is set in New Orleans and focuses on a teenage boy named Danny who’s not very interested in taking risks. His grandpa is though and as they peer through the fence of the mansion he eggs Danny on to investigate it. Danny shrugs it off for another day, but before they can Danny’s grandpa dies in a horrible accident. It’s not until the ghosts of the mansion call out to Danny that his adventure takes him closer to the creepy crawlies.
Why does this book matter?
Writer Joshua Williamson knows how to craft a creepy and scary story–you only need to check out Nailbiter to know that. Plus this is the first Disney ride-turned-comic-book so the stakes are quite high for this comic to work. It’s an all-ages book, but that doesn’t mean artist Jorge Coelho can’t infuse this with all kinds of horrific imagery.
Remember kids, never enter a creepy mansion!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue sets up Danny and his overall lack of interest in exploration quite well. Williamson makes sure we know he isn’t a coward by any means, but that he simply doesn’t care much about scaling mountains or getting into trouble. By all accounts he’s an average good kid so when the haunted mansion calls to him he takes the call. Williamson thoroughly establishes his home life which is slightly abnormal, but most importantly he has a close bond to his grandfather which will be important as the story moves on.
Once inside the mansion, the story sets to showcase some of the weirdness wandering about its halls. Williamson sets Danny on a bit of a journey here that’s dangerous and filled with surprises. On top of that there’s a short song that’s a lot of fun and reminded me of something out of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s not all fun and games though and it’s made quite clear a dangerous ghost is after Danny that will mix up this adventure between danger and the happy weirdness of the mansion.
As an all ages book the comic never felt too dumbed down for an adult reader. Sure there isn’t any gore or truly horrific images to be had, but generally this reads more like an adventure similar to Goonies. The stakes are clear and the motivation makes sense to enter the mansion and for the bad guys to want him dead.
The art is quite nice with a style reminiscent of Walt Simonson. The heavy use of lines inside the mansion cast a creepy shadow and there’s a solidity to Danny’s hair and the structures around him that imbue a sense of dread.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Though it’s clear Danny isn’t the type to take chances and his family isn’t the most supportive I didn’t feel like I knew him too well once his adventure inside the mansion kicked off. He’s a good kid who can take care of himself, but aside from that this book is more about his bond with his grandfather than anything else. That leaves you wanting a bit more.
Is It Good?
It’s clear family is an important aspect of this creepy and fun first issue. It’s good for all ages with art that helps us dive into the magical nature of the haunted mansion.