In this stand-alone Kong story, the year is 1912, and a wealthy humanitarian has traveled to Skull Island with the purpose of civilizing the native Tagatu living there. Although the Tagatu accept his gifts and allow his team to live among them, they’re devoted to their god…and the team soon discovers that Kong is very, very real.
James Copland is a pilot, desperate to make his mark on history. When he accidentally stumbles upon an undiscovered island, with abundant natural resources and a tribe of savages to “drag into the modern age” and convert to Christianity, Copland sees his shot at immortality. Unfortunately for him, this island already has a deeply seated religion, and it involves one giant, angry ape.
Copland and his team ingratiate themselves to the locals, plying them with food and medicine, while looking for opportunities to exploit them and their land. Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s script spends a lot of time in the Tagatu camp, building the legend of the Kong through the oral tradition of the native storytellers and their shaman.
Somehow, the Tagatu survived for generations at the bottom of the food chain in the harshest, deadliest environment on Earth, and they worshipped the Kong as a living god. I always wanted to see more of that tribe’s culture in the films- specifically the “Church of the Kong” and their relationship with Kong himself- but that wasn’t the story they were telling. Now, it’s the story we’re telling. -Phillip Kennedy Johnson
The art team plays a huge role in selling that story. Chad Lewis’ heavy, scratchy lines and Dee Cuniffe’s aged palette call back to some of the earlier titles in all the right ways. The art brings a pulpy, newsprint feel.
Arguably the granddaddy of the entire daikaiju genre, King Kong has seen eight feature films and at least eight different comics runs since 1933. It can be very difficult to find a niche in a franchise this old and comfortably worn. Fresh takes on the legend can create sticking points in the canon. Johnson and co. seem to have neatly sidestepped the issue by focusing on a largely untouched facet of the story.
Kong: Gods of Skull Island #1, released on the 18th of October 2017 by BOOM! Studios, based on Joe DeVito’s Kong of Skull Island and Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Chad Lewis, colors by Dee Cuniffe, letters by Ed Dukeshire, cover by Jeremy Wilson.