Tony Black reviews Kong of Skull Island #2…
Two rival civilizations and their Kongs must make a home of the horrors that inhabit life on Skull Island. There is no escape!
The second part of Boom! Studios’ prequel to the original King Kong novel gets off to a thumping start, as Kong of Skull Island immediately hits head on the cliffhanger writer James Asmus established at the end of part one, which saw not just Kong but the array of human players in the Tagu & Atu tribes facing the terror of the titular Skull Island. As it turns out, Asmus slightly delays fully embracing that mysterious lost land, as in a thrilling few opening pages he has Konga and the other Kong’s battling dinosaurs in some gloriously drawn battles by Carlos Magno, really making use of the scope afforded to him by the freedom inherent in drawing comics, to depict one hell of a desperate scramble involving monsters, boats and crushing waves. Beyond this, Asmus continues establishing the world and a few character beats beyond which, free of introduction, work better this time around.
While the tribes folk on the array of ships face the monsters of Skull Island, you have the Tagu & Atu tribes back home facing the realities of the political situation, as the people of the tribe grow more into a mob angry at how their resources are not being split fairly – all in the shadow of a nearby volcano seriously about to erupt and plunge them all into a potential Pompeii-esque disaster. It falls to young Tagu prince K’Reti to potentially embrace a political marriage to enlightened Atu princess Usana, who very much sees beyond her time to a point where belief in Gods isn’t used as a means of controlling the population & preventing chaos, and she’s more pragmatic than the hot blooded young prince – K’Reti cares less about uniting tribes in the shadow of disaster, and more for his love Ewata, currently amidst the Kong’s as they battle for survival. Come the climax, Asmus delivers several really huge and interesting cliffhangers, both in terms of character beats and massive changes in the world itself, which look set to plunge the series more into the kind of supernatural danger the Kong’s face at the beginning.
Altogether this is a step up for Kong of Skull Island than the previous issue, with some great artwork from Magno which conveys the ancient world and delivers some major Kong smackdown action the previous issue slightly lacked, and strong writing from Asmus which further illuminates character while building out the social & political aspects of this ancient world – all the while ensuring there’s enough action happening to justify the panels. It’s not yet top drawer and essential a run, but it’s certainly improving fast.