A comic book based on a theme park ride has no business being good. And yet, Marvel has managed to make a pretty fun story out of Disney‘s The Haunted Mansion. Yes, it essentially forces a mythology upon the ride, but it does it well. Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Jorge Coelho keep things lighthearted and fun throughout the entire story, never dragging along the way. When it come down to it, The Haunted Mansion is a pretty good time.
Williamson manages to tell an exciting all-ages adventure with The Haunted Mansion, which is no easy task. Using the infamous mansion as a backdrop, he sends a teenager on a quest to find his grandfather, stop the crazed ghost of a pirate captain, and save the goodnatured spirits who just want to party. This is a comic you can read with your kids, whether they are Disney fans or not. That can’t really be said about most Marvel superhero comics.
Coelho and colorist Jean-Francis Beaulieu add to the aforementioned fun with their bombastic art. The Haunted Mansion moves a lot. The characters are constantly running, dodging ill-willed spirits, and dancing (they really do love to party). Coelho’s line work is brimming with energy and the movement is something you can feel just from looking at a panel. Beaulieu’s colors are the perfect mixture that go from of dark and scary to blindingly bright. The ghosts just leap off the page. It should be noted the Coelho also does a fantastic job of making things scary, but not too scary. Like we said earlier, you can read this comic with your family and not worry about the little ones being haunted by ghost-filled nightmares.
The only thing that hurts this collection is just how much Williamson and Coelho had to pack into a mere five issues. There are moments that seem just jammed into the book in order to land a reference to part of the ride. Sure, the groundskeeper and his dog are perched outside the graveyard on Disneyland ride, but they add nothing to the comic book story. Fortunately, the creative team keeps things moving fast, so these moments don’t hold the story down, too much.
It’s worth noting that the backup material here is amazing, too. While there’s not a ton of it, Marvel did fill the back of this collection with some insanely cool concept art for the original ride. If you’re a fan of the ride, you’ll adore these images and probably wish there were a lot more of them reprinted here.
The Haunted Mansion is a must-buy for fans of the ride, Disney fanatics, or anybody looking for a spooky comic to read with their little ones this Fall. It’s probably the best comic book based on a theme park ride ever produced.
Rating: 4 out of 5 haunted burritos.
Images: Marvel Comics
Benjamin Bailey writes for the Nerdist and can be found on Twitter talking about Godzilla, comic books, and hardcore music.