Let me first start by saying that Big Thunder Mountain is one my favourite rides in Disneyland Paris (the only Disney resort I’ve visited), only narrowly beaten by Les Mystères du Nautilus. So of course, when Marvel and Disney announced that everyone’s favourite runaway main train was being turned into a comic, I was excited.
Design wise, it’s very pretty. Like all other Disney Kingdom series books it comes only in hardcover. Which is bad because it means a fragile flap and a higher price than what you’d pay for a trade paperback version. On the upside, once the flap is removed, you get a really nice sketch of the ride. That aside, from personal experience I know that Marvel soft cover editions tend to be rather more robust, so I’m not really into Disney’s money grabbing ways here, pretty look or not.
Now onto the story: Disney is basically retconning the original ride back story for their Californian park, making this one the one and only correct one.
For ride and Disney geeks, this is of course really interesting, and probably worth reading for this alone. It still leaves all the other Disney parks hanging when it comes to their back stories though, and to be fair, reading this comic, that’s not a bad thing.
Without giving away anything of the story: it’s a fun enough tale when it comes to a mining town setting in the Wild West era of the United States, with just a little hint of the Weird West we’ve all come to love.
In itself the characters are nothing original either and development is simply lackluster. The story is, all in all, just like the characters: plain unoriginal. Also the choice of the female lead/heroine feels a little forced. Whilst I applaud strong female characters, it just feels very force fed in this story, possibly because it’s just not an original story. It’s, once again, daddy’s girl isn’t pleased with society’s view on how a women should behave and look, and rebellious as she is, she “does something about it”. But in the same way we’ve seen hundreds of times before. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, trying as it may, is just not an original story, it doesn’t manage to grab and hold attention properly like it should. And sadly nothing can really change that.
The art is alright, but also not the most fine comic art (definitely not the worst either so there is that).
All in all, it’s just rather disappointing. It feels like Disney figured that people would buy this book anyway because of the popularity of the ride (they’re not wrong) and that because of that, they didn’t have to do a real effort. I can only hope they are doing a better job with The Haunted Mansion because this was one of the most disappointing comics I’ve read all year. It certainly does no justice at all to the iconic ride so many have come to love over the years.