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Over the years (my kids are 25 & 23), we’ve been to Disney World in Orlando a dozen times or so.  We know the older rides by heart. Tommorowland, Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion are all some of the original rides, and you can tell.  Other than adding Jack Sparrow to Pirates several years ago, these rides are as is, until last year when the Haunted Mansion was among a couple that received a much needed facelift.  I haven’t ridden the new version yet, but I can only hope it’s as good as the new comic from Marvel.

Written by Joshua Williamson (Nailbiter, Birthright, & Ghost’d), with art by Jorge Coelho (John Flood, Sleepy Hollow), colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Howard the Human, I Hate Fairyland), and letters by Joe Caramanga (Mockingbird, Black Widow), the Haunted Mansion tells the story of 15 year old Danny, who is deathly afraid of the titular mansion and unexpectedly loses his adventuresome grandfather to an avalanche on the Matterhorn.  Danny is an awkward kid.  Thin and frail, kind of gawky,  and very shy in public, Danny’s grandfather was trying to bring out his adventurous side when he passed.  They had even talked about confronting the mansion.  After the death in the family, Danny’s parents were not much help. In-different at best, they leave Danny to his own wares, sometimes not even bothering to set up his dinner while they both work late.  So Danny goes out to visit his grandfather’s grave and talk with him, seemingly the only person who cared about him.  As he leaves the graveyard though, the gate calls his name (which he doesn’t hear).  When Danny gets home to a once again empty house though, his world changes.  When he enters the bathroom, a female face appears in the mirror and yells at him to get to the mansion, his grandfather needs his help.  Inspired for maybe the first time ever, Danny goes through his grandfathers travel trunk, gets some supplies and sets out for the Haunted Mansion.  Trying to encourage himself to be brave, he enters the mansion……and encounters all sorts of oddities.  Paintings that stretch, dark hallways, mysteriously appearing doors and all sorts of creatures crawling out of pictures.  All of this leads to the last thing you would want to see, a coffin, which spawns the first real line of humor “A coffin? are you kidding me? who keeps a coffin in their house”.  The coffin, of course leads to yet another creature joining the brood that are trying to attack Danny.  Danny flees, with all the creatures hot on his heels. As the creatures are about to catch him, Danny finds a room with a crystal ball that contains the floating head of Madame Leota, who vanquishes the nasties.  Madame Leota explains that the ghosts and his grandfather need his help.  An evil pirate captain has trapped all the ghosts in the mansion and Danny can help them by learning the captain’s secrets.  Danny agrees and follows the gosts into the Boundless Realm of the Supernatural to discover the secrets. But, the madame sends him off with one final cryptic warning , “Don’t go in the attic, avoid Constance the Bride at all costs”.

Josh fashions an old school Disney tale.  With an intriguing story set up, a heart wrenching hero, and a creepy locale. The Haunted Mansion captures the old Disney vibe while giving what feels like a new look. And the art is beautiful and fitting. Reminiscent of classic Disney art, Jorge has captured the feel of creepy and adventurous while also keeping the cartoon like look. I remeber the days of Walt Disney having a show on Sunday nights on CBS (?).  I remeber the great stories of adventure, fun and wonder, and this book captures that. And as a #1 it gives us the basis behind the story and a reason to go somewhere with it. So buckle in to the new Haunted Mansion, come meet some or all of its 999 ghosts, but most of all enjoy the ride, it looks like it’s going to be fun.

 

Sammie Cassell

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