Like the theme park roller coaster of the same name, “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” #1 packs wild colors, amazing sights and an expected amount of the unexpected. Writer Dennis Hopeless climbs aboard the locomotive and brings artist Tigh Walker, colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu and letterer Joe Caramagna to explore the adventurous landscape of the Arizona Territory in 1878.
Caramagna makes an impact right away, peppering Walker’s artwork with the “BOOOOM” of an explosion, the comical “NOM NOM NOM” of a goat and the speech of a young lady as she seeks to shore up her confidence while riding into the unexpected. Caramagna carries that energy throughout the issue, and skillfully sculpts the oft-ample dialogue around Walker’s drawings.
Walker’s work is solid throughout the issue, giving readers everything from billowing dress bustles to a billy goat chomping on dynamite. While most of his characters are conservatively animated, Walker does find instances to unleash, with overly dramatic expressions and dynamic camera angles. Walker has clearly put plenty of effort into designing the cast of this comic, even when circumstance requires wholesale appearance alterations. Beaulieu fills Walker’s drawings with over-the-top oranges and balances those out with ample amounts of purples and blues, making this comic a visual inheritor of the palette surrounding the popular ride.
The opening scene brings readers in with a hair-raising turn of events that would make a breath-stealing pre-credits scene, as Hopeless introduces readers to the protagonist of the adventure and quickly shows us all what she is capable of. Abigail Bullion comes on as an instantly endearing individual, despite any gap readers may have in age, income or status. Hopeless has crafted a believable heroine worth readers’ attention and income, and the adventures that await her in the Wild West are only beginning to appear.
The opening scene sets expectations for “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” #1. While everything could easily be a letdown after a mountainside explosion and the ensuing chaos, Hopeless and company give readers a little bit of mystery, some humor and plenty of suspense for the latest of the Disney Kingdoms line of adventures. The high concept of the ride could easily be reduced to black hats and white hats hosting a mountainside shootout, but Hopeless and crew are writing an adventure first and investigating the world around the black hats and white hats to find the most interesting bits to present in a comic that scratches the need-to-go-to-Disney itch for readers of all ages.