Disney Kingdoms Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Big Success or Big Failure

The cover for issue #1 of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
The cover for issue #1 of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a must read for fans of the attraction, but die-hard comic book collectors may not find anything incredibly original about it’s plot.  To be fair, it is definitely geared toward the younger reader.  Seldom in a Marvel comic aimed at an older audience do you find activity pages where ads would normally be.  In fact, the only advertising in the book are ads sponsored by Marvel and very few of them at all.  That alone might make it worth the read.  But if you love the ride, you’ll love the book!

Title: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Writer/Artist: Dennis Hopeless (writer) and Tigh Walker (artist) with Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist)
Marvel Comics (under the Disney Kingdoms imprint)
Cost: $3.99 per issue
Genre: Western / Comic Book
Ages: All ages
Favorite Part: All the cool homages to the theme park attraction

Interior art featuring the famous goat on the mountain
Interior art featuring the famous goat on the mountain

Dennis Hopeless and Tigh Walker do a great job paying homage to the beloved attraction in this first issue.  On the first page you find the famous goat with a stick of dynamite in his mouth as the train goes rumbling by.  Riders of Big Thunder Mountain in Disneyland will remember that goat at the top as the train crests the second lift.  Also in the comic book, you’ll find references to the Rainbow Caverns (itself an homage to the original Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland attraction that used to be there), the bats in the caves, and even the giant dinosaur skull complete with waterfall that you go through on the first drop.  The train pulls into Rainbow Ridge (another homage to the original Disneyland attraction), but the action of the book takes place in Arizona which the rock formations are partially based on in the Florida, Paris, and Tokyo versions of the attraction.  It will be interesting to see how Hopeless and Walker are able to incorporate other elements of the ride into their books.

Overall, the plot is fairly basic.  Rebellious young daughter seeking to make her own way in the world defies her protective father and heads into the mines to explore them for herself and gets into trouble.  The heroine of the book is young Abigail Bullion who can handle herself pretty well.  She rides a horse with some talent and she’s quick on her feet if not a bit naive.  She continues Disney’s pattern lately of showcasing strong, independent women who are self-sufficient and capable.  The only detraction here is Abigail’s need to be saved by a mysterious stranger in hat and mask who comes swooping in during a mine cave-in.  The stranger looks an awful lot like the young man, Chandler, from earlier in the book who believes mining so deep is dangerous.  Time will tell if it’s him or not.

If you’re a fan of the attraction, you’ll enjoy this first issue.  It’s certainly fun to read the backstory on some of our favorite rides in the theme parks and too few these days lend themselves to original creative stories.  If you’re looking for a quiet reading diversion and you love the ride, this book is definitely worth picking up.  There’s much to enjoy within it’s covers.

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