Back in the days when we had to wait once a week for Disney programming on television (it didn’t have its own channel, let alone three), The Wonderful World of Disney would offer up TV movies with vaguely recognizable actors and sometimes lurid titles that were just family fun. (My favorite titles, for the record, were The Mystery of Dracula’s Castle and The Treasure of Matacumbe, though neither of them quite lived up to what was in my head before I watched them.)
The point is, they were fun, they put kids front and center in the cast while still allowing them to behave like kids, and Mom and Dad didn’t mind watching them, though Dad probably was more interested in 60 Minutes. These types of movies still exist on the Disney Channel, but they don’t quite feel as whole-family friendly, or maybe that’s nostalgia shading them.
But with Marvel’s new collaboration with Disney’s Imagineers, we’re getting the best of both worlds. It’s a comic savvy enough to age up the kids a bit like a modern Disney Channel movie, but clever enough to echo the time it draws its inspiration from — the 1960s.
For those coming to it blind, Seekers of the Weird is the first in a series of mini-series inspired by Disney attractions world-wide — at least, we hope world-wide– under a blanket imprint called “Disney Kingdoms”.
Back in the 1960s, legendary Imagineer Rollie Crump designed an adjunct to the Haunted Mansion called “The Museum of the Weird”. Walt Disney loved the idea, allegedly several props were built, and it would have been a walk-through attraction that led directly to that crumbling mansion at the end of New Orleans Square.
However, Disney died and budgets got cut, and the Museum disappeared. And perhaps we can provide a direct connection to this comic’s story; writer Brandon Siefert has placed siblings Maxwell and Melody as heirs to an other-dimensional Museum, full of designs from Crump’s drawing board.
But they only discover this after awakening to find their parents kidnapped by other-dimensional chimerae. Their swashbuckling Uncle Roland, never met before this day, shows up just a bit too late and begins unlocking secrets for them.
If only Melody had paid more attention to the inventory at her parents’ mystical items shop, and if only Maxwell wasn’t such a… well, a Maxwell. They’re recognizable Disney tropes, siblings who are two halves of a whole well-rounded person, so it’s fairly easy to see where this story is going.
But if you’re eight or nine, it might not be. Besides, Siefert writes at a fast pace, and artist Karl Moline fills each panel with enough detail that it doesn’t matter if we know where it’s all going to end; this journey looks fun. Uncle Roland is a great character design, and we’re seeing so many throwbacks to a golden age in Imagineering, that each page is one kids are going to pore over again and again (and a few adults will, too).
The cover design by Mike Del Mundo also bears mention, because though it is still drawn in a modern style, it echoes the layout of an old Gold Key Comics cover painting — the kind you would have found on one of their adventure comics in the 1960s. It isn’t heavy-handed in its nostalgia, but still evocative.
Perfect for kids, and definitely a book Disney fanatics are going to seek out, Seekers of the Weird #1 promises a lot for the Disney/Marvel alliance. It took a while, but it was worth the wait.
Derek McCaw is the publisher of Fanboy Planet. Check out his fantastic website!