Publisher: Legendary Comics
Writer: Marie Anello
Colour Assists: Syncraft Studio
Lettering: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Release Date: 6th April 2021
With the eagerly-anticipated (to some, anyway) cinematic monster smackdown Godzilla vs. Kong now available on streaming services everywhere, Legendary Comics have released not one but two prequel graphic novels to help fill in some of the storyline gaps from their MonsterVerse.
This first release sets the scene from Kong’s perspective, taking us back to Skull Island alongside a group of military pilots as they prepare to make the dangerous journey into the Hollow Earth. The bulk of the narrative is focused on Audrey, a pilot who is haunted by the tragic outcome to her previous clash with the Titans, and her battle to overcome this trauma and carry out her mission. We also check in with the rapidly-growing Kong himself as he battles beasties to maintain order on his isolated island.
Writer Marie Anello does a solid job with the narrative, blending character drama with large-scale Titan mayhem effectively to keep the pace interesting throughout. Audrey’s a sympathetic enough protagonist, if perhaps a little derivative, but her gradually developing interplay with the other pilots does a good job of livening up the human-based sections – sections which can often feel like filler between the next Titan smackdown.
Unfortunately, the main drawback for this graphic novel – for me, at least – is the artwork. Don’t get me wrong, the Titan sequences are fantastic, with ZID showing a real flair for large-scale action as Kong takes on all manner of feline and noctilionine threats. However, the human characters feel fairly lifeless – possibly a result of what feels like a serious overreliance on photo-referencing techniques. Everyone’s facial expressions feel forced and unnatural, which really detracts from almost every major character beat, and while there’s clearly a high level of technical ability on display, the end result really doesn’t work as a sequential narrative.
The final pages introduce some familiar big-screen faces, and while it doesn’t quite bridge the gap completely between the existing continuity and the recently-released movie, it does go a long way towards fleshing out the Hollow Earth theory and adds some interesting new threats and wrinkles into Kong’s ongoing saga. Well worth a look if you’re a bigtime King Kong fan, and certainly well written, but for me, the artwork was too much of a hurdle to overcome for me to fully recommend this one.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]