Marvel’s series of Disney Kingdoms comics that are inspired by Disney theme park attractions continues. This time, the creatives at Marvel and Walt Disney Imagineering are tackling the wildest ride in the wilderness, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The story takes place in 1878 in the Arizona Territory (101 years prior to the attraction opening at Disneyland Park). We are introduced to Abby Bullion, daughter of Barnabas T. Bulliion. If that name is familiar, he is the character that was added to the official backstory of the attraction in 2012. At that time here is what Imagineering had to say:
[quote_box_center]Barnabas T. Bullion is the founder and president of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The longtime mining magnate comes from a powerful East Coast family and considers gold to be his very birthright by virtue of his oddly appropriate name; in fact, he considers the ultimate gold strike to be his destiny. And that is why he is having so much trouble with Big Thunder Mountain. According to superstitious locals, Big Thunder Mountain is very protective of the gold it holds within, and the unfortunate soul who attempts to mine its riches is destined to fail. And so far that prophecy is coming to pass. The mine has been plagued by mysterious forces and natural disasters ever since. And yet the Big Thunder Mining Co. is still in operation. In fact, Bullion is discovering new veins of gold and digging new shafts every day, offering a closer look at the Big Thunder mining operation than ever before. But a word to the wise for anyone attempting to visit the mountain: watch out for runaway trains.[/quote_box_center]
Now Barnabas, looks suspiciously like Imagineering icon and Disney Legend Tony Baxter, but that is not important right now. Obviously, Big Thunder is a dangerous place filled with runaway trains a goats holding dynamite, so Barnabas wants to protect his daughter from the dangers of the mountain. But Abby has different ideas, she wants to live a life of adventure and see the storied mines of Big Thunder for herself. So when she runs away to the mines she finds herself in serious danger… luckily she does have someone watching her back…
This new story is a great addition to the Disney Kingdoms line. Thanks to Big Thunder’s vague back story, it perhaps fits in as “canon” more than the previous two titles, the Haunted Mansion inspired Seekers of the Weird and Figment. The story even references Rainbow Ridge which is a nice touch. In fact, there are many Disney easter eggs throughout the book.
Writer Dennis Hopeless, whose work within the Marvel Universe I have enjoyed, writes a well-paced story that is a nice expansion of the Big Thunder mythos. The characterizations are complex yet believable within the pages of the book.
Tigh Walker’s art captures the aesthetic of the Fronteirland area while increasing the world’s scope and grandeur. In a story where many characters are unfamiliar, he does a nice job keeping the characters diversified while being consistent within each character to help new readers understand the story. His best work, however, are the scenes that take place inside the mountain which evoke the classic attraction while adding something new.
As each Disney Kingdoms title is a different genre, it is hard to pick a favorite. But Big Thunder Mountain adds something new to the line, while paying tribute to the attraction and the Imagineers that helped bring it to life. I look forward to seeing where the story is headed.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is available at comic book shops, select Disney Theme Park merchandise locations, and the Marvel Comics app.