In Review: Kong of Skull Island #2

A fantastic monster story that has sumptuous visuals to match its epic scale.

The covers: Some guesswork is required, but this appears to be Ewata and K’Reti standing before five Kongs in a jungle. This is most likely on Skull Island itself. If so, this calm scene can’t continue too long, given the nature of this dangerous place. This Regular cover by Nick Robles really brings some power to the giant simians, and having two humans for scale really makes the Kongs strong. The lighting in this is also good, with the light on the beasts’ backs showing that this setting isn’t all darkness. The Variant cover was the one I had to purchase since the illustration is by Stan Sakai of Usagi Yojimbo fame, with colors by the iconic Tom Luth, of Usgai and Groo fame. Anything by Sakai is worth having and seeing this illustration of Kong fighting an overwhelming numbers of raptors is outstanding. The green lizards with their orange marks are also overwhelming the colors of Kong, and that beautiful violet sky nicely highlights the creatures. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: The boat has overturned, leaving Ewata flailing in the water as one of the Kongs does battle with a monstrous reptilian sea creature. As she goes under, Ewata’s only thoughts are ‘Did I cause it…? Ignoring our history…warning signs. I brought us to our death…my friends…my friends. My…’ and all goes black. She bobs to the surface. ‘No! Not without a fight.’ And what a fight it is that’s causing the ocean to explode! Another sea creature roars out of the water, claiming a villager as a victim. One Kong holds a woman above the water as it tries to fend off a beast. She screams at the ape to hit the eye, so the oversized simian puts the girl close to the reptile’s head and she kicks out its orb. The woman screams for the survivors to get out of the water, though one man realizes they should help Ewata right the boat. Those who have made their way to the beach find out that Skull Island has many threats also on its shores. A ton of action in this opening from writer James Asmus, as the villagers are fending off creatures left and right, with the Kongs doing what they can. Back at home, K’Reti expresses displeasure to his father for having to marry Usana, stating that their marriage seems to be a distraction to the possible catastrophe that stirs in the volcano. His father will have none of it and an exchange with Usana doesn’t help things. Page 12 has Asmus making things worse for the young lovers, and 19 is a shot to the heart for one character. I didn’t pick this book up for the humans’ story, but I admit to finding myself falling into the drama of this pair and wondering where it will go. If this is too much mush for some readers, they shouldn’t fear, for the final two pages show the fate of one Kong after discovering some familiar plant life. I’m loving this story. Overall grade: A+

The art: I purchased this book for some monster action and illustrator Carlos Magno is delivering it in spades! The first page teases the action nicely, with the focus on Ewata as she begins to drown. Pages 2 and 3 is a double-paged spread, with two small circular panels in the upper left and lower right, that show the sea creature grabbing its latest prey as the hapless villagers and apes look on in terror. The water work on these pages is stunning; every ripple and splash of liquid is photographic in its quality. When one of the Kongs holds someone, I’m instantly transported to the classic film in its scale and feels. The third panel on Page 4 gave me joy, as did the third panel on the following page. The dinosaur work by Magno is stellar. When a Kong decides to battle one of the giant lizards on 6 and 7 it’s a monster lover’s dream come true. The suffering home of the villagers is sumptuous. The stonework on 11, 13, and 14 is great, and the design that Magno is puts into 14 makes the setting stunning. The real showpiece of the issue is the large panel on 19; this seemed like it was pulled from a classic film in its content and composition, but this is a wholly original piece and it’s outstanding. As wowed as I was by this image, the final page of the book leaves me ravenous to see what thrills Magno will create for next issue — that’s a great visual cliffhanger! Overall grade: A+

The colors: The first issue in this series had very stylized coloring, with the characters and the backgrounds being very similar in their colors. This book, again colored by Brad Simpson, opens with more traditional coloring and it was a neat change. The first three pages have the characters and creatures in natural colors and the pages look good, especially with the amazing job that Simpson does on the water and the splash of blood from a creature’s victim. The scenes in the water with the Kongs are simply beautiful to look at. Back on the soon-to-be-doomed villager island, the colors are very orange, but I now get that this is done to remind the reader of the angry volcano. At night, a more varied colored scheme is used and it looks great. Simpson has changed things up, keeping the reader alert to what should be focused on and making the visuals shine. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, sounds, dialogue, yells, screams, and the tease for next issue are created by Ed Dukeshire. Everything he does looks good, with the sounds making those action sequences joyously loud. The Kong roars really bring out the primal nature of those characters. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A fantastic monster story that has sumptuous visuals to match its epic scale. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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