George: We’ve reviewed a few works of fiction at The Disney Review and the success rate is about 50/50. Usually, the author will sacrifice the layout or feel of the parks to facilitate the plot. So, when Space Mountain, the graphic novel rolled onto our collective desks, neither one of us knew what to think. Here was a comic book that was set in the future and made use of Space Mountain. The cover image showed three people, in front of Space Mountain in space, with one of them firing lasers. I really wasn’t sure where it was going to go!
Jeff: I heard about this graphic novel, well before the Museum of the Weird or the Journey into Imagination adaptions, but then it kind of fell to the wayside. When it popped up on our radar again (no pun intended), I was excited to see what they did with the concept. Considering the ride, for the most part, has no plot in place, they were free to create a story that could literally go anywhere. And to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised at the result.
George: They had me at time travel. Bloop.
Jeff: I knew that would be your selling point. But George is right: the story is centered around time travel. Teams of scientists travel back in time to observe human history, in order to learn from it. But, the plot of the novel revolves around two students who are picked to accompany the team on their first journey into the future. Alas, it’s only 24 hours into the future, but as we learn, a LOT can happen in that time.
George: It’s not exactly a new premise, but what’s incredibly unique and charming is the equipment that they use. I don’t want to give too much away, but you do see various attractions and ride vehicles used in the graphic novel. Space Mountain is a scientific research base in space and you’ll see a few other Disneyland icons serving important roles. It was a lot of fun to discover them in the book and see how they were put to another use.
Jeff: I think, to me, that was one of the most fun parts. There were a few times where I went “Oh, look at that!” or “Hey, it’s the so-and-so!” (names withheld to not ruin the surprise for you). But it is a neat way to tie some Tomorrowland attractions into the story itself. And speaking of the story, it reminded me a lot of some of the older Disney adventure films. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, I found it to be quite charming. There was one section, though, that I found to be quite dark. When a motive is revealed for why things went wrong (and let’s face it, they have to go wrong in order for there to be a story), I was a bit surprised. But, never in a bad way, and it kind of brought itself around in the end.
George: I agree on the darkness of the plot. I still think this is a great graphic novel for kids eight and up, so I wouldn’t worry about them seeing anything that will give them nightmares. The art style was very reminiscent of comics I read in the 70s with a lot of nods towards the more serialized adventures from earlier, like Buck Rodgers. There was less of a realistic approach, as it felt like it was styled more towards a fast-paced sci-fi story.
Jeff: The art was perfectly suited for the content, though, and to me, really enhanced the overall final product. As a fan of traveling through time and relative dimension in space, I was very pleased with this first outing of a Disney graphic novel. In fact, it kind of made me more excited for OTHER graphic novels based on Disney attractions (and, of course, the eventual sequel to Space Mountain, as teased by the cliffhanger ending).
George: The creativity in regards to the Tomorrowland attractions really surprised me and made a huge difference in the storyline. The book is geared towards 9-12 year-olds, but I think that Disney nerds of all ages will enjoy it. The Space Mountain graphic novel is a great book to help reticent readers find their love of reading, as well. Especially if you throw in their favorite Disney attractions.
Jeff: What attraction do you want them to tackle next, George?
George: Because you think I’m nine?
Jeff: That AND I know you were already thinking of possibilities. We should just write our own. “Jeff and George and Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train of Terror!”
George: Will we go back in time to save the world form an evil, rampaging caterpillar?
Jeff: I think that sounds totally legit to me!
Are you going to pick up this graphic novel? Which land do you think they should tackle next?
By George Taylor
The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor
Other places you can find George and Jeff:
- The 626 (Jeff)
- ImagiNERDing (George)
- From the Mouth of the Mouse (Jeff)
- Communicore Weekly The Greatest Online Show ™ (Jeff and George)
You can also see us EVERY week on Communicore Weekly on the MiceTube.