As mentioned before, Merian C. Cooper had the idea for a “gaiden” story for King Kong back in 1935, detailing exactly what happens in the time of that smash-cut between when Denham (on Skull Island) proclaims everyone will be rich and Kong’s name in lights on broadway. The Venture had quite a trek from the Indian ocean, and there’s the logistics of keeping Kong sedated, getting through customs, etc, but that’s sort of dull, so the idea also has the boat getting caught in a storm, making emergency landing in Africa, and running into another king of apes: Tarzan.
Much like Joe Meets Tarzan, this never came to pass (save for some highly-suspect Bollywood productions), but just a couple of months ago Will Murray published a novel version of the untold saga, as the first entry in the Wild Adventures of King Kong line.
The book, authorized by both Cooper and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ estates, is set in continuity with Kong: King of Skull Island, meaning that Skull Island wise-woman Penjaga features heavily. Most of the story is about the troubled voyage, but they get to Africa a little past the halfway mark, when Kong escapes, and decides to behave as he would in his natural habitat by murdering every single thing on the continent. Things pick up with the introduction of Tarzan, and there are some clever plays that make for a good crossover, such as Nkima and Ignatz bonding, or the fact that Denham had totally already run into Tarzan during his prior jaunts across Africa. The fact that Tarzan arrives so late into the story, and that he’s able to best Kong as easily as he is, may prove a little controversial for fans of either franchise, though. I’m just stunned at how easily the crew agrees to go recapture the big ape (then again, Englehorn agrees to return to Skull Island pretty quickly in Son of Kong, so…).
This wasn’t Murray’s first crossover with a pulp hero in King of Skull Island continuity, although the prior one is potentially confusing because they refer to Tarzan as a fictional literary character throughout. The other I refer to is the sixth Wild Adventures of Doc Savage book (a line that also occasionally guest stars The Shadow ), published in 2013: Skull Island!
This novel has the Man of Bronze reminiscing about an adventure he’s had as a teenager, when he and Clark Savage Sr went to Skull Island in pursuit of Doc’s grandfather, the legendary Stormalong Savage. The characters in the book are fairly entertaining, though I do think it odd that the main threat is a party of Dayak pirates rather than all of the bloodthirsty indigenous life there. Again, Penjaga plays a big part, and the book’s frame tale fills in some of the blanks from King of Skull Island, particularly the aftermath of Kong’s 1932 rampage. I am keen to read some of the other Doc Savage tales after this one, if nothing else to make a drinking game out of Doc whistling or humans’ complexion being compared to some sort of mineral.
Hopefully this leads to other interesting crossovers in prose… King Kong vs Sherlock Holmes? Perhaps Dracula? Or should they stick to the ones of the time period, like The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and The Green Hornet? I guess at this point, only Will Murray knows… oh, and the Shadow knows, of course.