One of the things I’ve always loved about Disney is the imagination and creativity that goes into their parks. The different lands and attractions all have very intricate back-stories, and I was obsessed with them in my younger days. So what better way for Marvel and Disney to work together than making comics based around Disney Park attractions?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Disney Kingdoms. This gem of a series was born when a group of Marvel and Disney executives talking during a baseball game. Among those present was Joe Quesada, the man behind the infamous One More Day arc of Spider-Man. Despite his past misgivings, Disney Kingdoms has partially redeemed Mr. Quesada in my eyes.
Disney Kingdoms is divided into a series of five issue miniseries, each based on a different Disney attraction, that take place in a shared universe. Today we’re going to be talking about to first of these miniseries: Seekers of the Weird, based on The Museum of the Weird.
It follows two siblings named Max and Mary Keep. They live in New Orleans, where their parents run an occult curio shop. One night the shop is attacked by strange magical creatures. Mad and Mary are saved by their uncle Roland, but their parents are captured. Roland revels that their parents are members of a secret organization that guards a museum of strange and powerful artifacts. This is of course The Museum of the Weird. Now it’s a race against the clock to save Max and Mary’s parents before time runs out.
Some of you might be scratching your heads wondering why you haven’t heard of The Museum of the Weird. Well there’s a reason for that: it was never built. The Museum of the Weird was conceived as a walk-through experience that would be complimentary to The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. For various reason it never got built, but it remains one of the most intriguing “what-ifs” for Disney Park enthusiasts. There was really a lot of planning involved with it, lots of backstory and miniature models, and it’s well worth looking into.
Anyway, let’s talk about the comic itself. Well first of all, if you’re looking for a great all-ages comic book series then Disney Kingdoms has you covered. Hey, it is a Disney series, so of course it’s going to have appeal to all ages. That having been said, this is a horror comic and there are a few scene that might be a little scary for readers on the younger side. Just use your own discretion and it’ll all work out fine.
Now let’s talk about the characters. Max and Mary are your typical yin-yang siblings. Max is intelligent but not much for physical activity; while Mary isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but she’s is quite the sports star. So it seemed like the comic was setting things up for moral about the importance of teamwork and how everyone has something to offer, but that’s not quite how it panned out.
The main problem came down to the old adage “show, don’t tell”. We are frequently told that Max is intelligent and knows about the occult and weird thing. We are told this, but we never really see any evidence of this other than his love of reading books. For the most part, Mary seems to get by pretty well just by punching her way through the museum. I’m not sure if it was clumsy writing or maybe it just seemed that way to me.
In other characters we have Uncle Roland. He’s got the outfit of a dashing explorer and he has a gun that shoots ghosts out of it. His main role is to act as the adviser and moral support since he loses his legs early on. He does manage to get in on the heroics towards the end, but I wouldn’t want to spoil that for you.
The villains don’t really have much motivation beyond the typical take over the world for evil’s sake motive. Admittedly, that is rather par for course as far as Disney villains go. Their main goal is to summon their boss, The Reaper King. He’s got a pretty simple design, and he doesn’t appear for very long, but he is a powerful presence for the scenes that he is in. The last time he got loose the Black Death happened and 1/3 of Europe died. Those of you up on your history will remember that this was actually good for Europe in the long run. After all, it did lead to the collapse of feudalism. I will concede, however, that those who lived during the Black Death would beg to differ about it being good for Europe. Though admittedly, that stuck out more to me since I’m a history nerd.
There are plenty of little details and artifacts throughout the museum that are just begging to be elaborated on. I guess the artists and writers were trying to save something for potential sequels. Hey, Dreamfinder and Figment got a sequel to their series, so you never know. The Haunted Mansion has its own series now, so maybe there will be some shout-outs and hints in it. Speaking of art, the artwork itself is that same top-notch work we’ve all come to expect from the artists who work for Marvel.
Well there you have it. Thrills, chills and fun the whole family can enjoy. Seekers of the Weird is the first in the Disney Kingdoms line, but you don’t have to start there. Each miniseries is self-contained so any of them can be your starting point. It’s always refreshing to find a comic book series that isn’t bogged down in years of continuity. I really enjoyed Seekers of the Weird, and I’m sure you will too.