The original 1933 film King Kong was an immediate
financial success. An inevitable sequel soon followed with the
humorous but tepid Son of Kong being released late in
1933. King Kong eventually became the second most viewed
movie in history (second only in theaters to Gone With The
Wind and on TV to The Wizard of Oz). Over the last
seventy-odd years, several Kong related projects were produced
including an awful 1976 remake and the cult favorite King
Kong Vs. Godzilla.
The planned December release of Peter Jackson's re-imagining
of the original epic has spawned new Kong-related fictions.
Conceived by artist Joe DeVito, Kong: King of Skull Island
purports to be both a sequel and prequel to Delos W. Lovelace's
novelization of the original King Kong conceived by Edgar
Wallace and Merian C. Cooper. Kong opens with Carl Denham,
the man who brought the giant ape to New York, returning to
Skull Island months after the great ape's demise. (Apparently
for the purposes of this sequel, Son of Kong never happened.)
In 1957, Denham's son Vincent elicits the aide of Jack Driscoll,
hero of the original story, to uncover what happened to his
father on his last visit to Skull Island. Leaving his wife Ann
(the Beauty to King Kong's Beast) at home, Driscoll joins Vincent
on an adventure that reveals the origin of King Kong (he's part
of a race of Kongs!), the natives of Skull Island, and the fate
of Carl Denham.
Throw in lavishly painted full color images from creator DeVito
and Kong: King of Skull Island should be an unforgettable
thrill. Sadly, it is not.
I have never read a Brad Strickland novel, though according
to his bio he has written or co-written 60 published books.
Odds are I will not seek out another. His writing turned a potentially
thrilling story into something forgettable.
The plot was slow and predictable. It jumped from viewpoint
and place at inappropriate times and for no apparent reason.
As soon interesting events began to unfold, Strickland moved
to another character, plot point, or place. I'm all for cliffhangers,
but when they become commonplace, the impact dulls.
Award-winning artist and sculptor Joe DeVito supplied painted
images to correspond with the tale. While DeVito's art style
is a little too realistic for my tastes, I found the illustrations
striking and very well done. I wish the artist and writer had
communicated more, though. In some scenes, the paintings and
descriptions do not match.
Overall, Kong: King of Skull Island is a subpar King
Kong sequel with some excellent illustrations. If you are
looking for a book with superior ape and dinosaur images, then
this is the book for you. Otherwise, watch your King Kong
video and wait impatiently like the rest of us ape freaks for
the Peter Jackson remake.