The Haunted Mansion is an five-issue comic book series produced by Marvel Comics under the Disney Kingdoms line. The series is written by Joshua Williamson, drawn by Jorge Coelho and colored by Jean-Francois Beaulieu. First launched in March 2016, the series concluded in July.
The story follows the adventures of Danny, a teenage boy who is inadvertently drawn into a mysterious mansion populated by 999 ghosts.
Issue 1 Edit
(first released March 9th, 2016)
Fifteen-year-old Danny Crowe has always been curious about the dilapidated antebellum mansion near his home in New Orleans. No one seems to know much about the history of the place - just wild and sometimes conflicting stories about headless horsemen, cursed pirates, homicidal brides and psychic mediums - but it is undeniably agreed that the place is haunted. Danny's adventure-loving grandfather tries to encourage him to explore the old place, but Danny is too scared to try it. He promises Danny that when he returns from his mountain-climbing expedition to the Matterhorn, they'll go investigate to mansion together, and Danny agrees. Unfortunately, the old man is killed by an avalanche during the climb.
A month after his grandpa's funeral, a still-grieving Danny has been making it a regular routine to visit the grave and talk about his day. He admits that he wishes he was as brave and sure as his grandpa had been, and how everyone around him has been weird since his death; he's been sent to a school counselor, and his parents barely acknowledge him. As he leaves the cemetery, a ghostly face appears in the plaque on the gate and whispers his name, but he does not hear it and walks past the mansion on his way home, noting how he feels he'll never be brave like his grandpa.
Danny returns home to find his parents gone and note from each saying they'll be home late and to order a pizza. Later that night, his meal is interrupted by a voice calling his name from the bathroom, and sees the ghostly face of a woman in the bathroom mirror, begging him to come to the mansion and that his grandpa needs him, fading away before he can learn more. Intrigued and emboldened, Danny gets some gear from his grandpa's travel trunk and ventures to the mansion.
Entering the house in the dead of night, Danny creeps around with his flashlight and enters the Stretching Room, where he sees the portraits elongate before the lights go out. A panel opens into the Portrait Corridor, where the paintings morph before his eyes. Suddenly, the monsters in the frames leap out and attack, chasing him through the mansion. Danny runs blindly into the conservatory, where he is frightened by the Coffin Ghost. He tries to escape down the Corridor of Doors as the family photos on the walls laugh at him and the portrait ghouls close in.
Danny flees into the Seance Circle, where Madame Leota - the face Danny had seen in the mirror - drives the monsters back with a command. She explains to Danny that she called him there because they need his help: an evil spirit, the ghost of a pirate captain, has trapped all the other ghosts in the mansion and is trying to convert the happy haunts into angry and harmful spirits to reflect his own hatred. Those ghosts that do not turn have their ability to haunt taken away by the Captain, and eventually disappear. She goes on to say Danny's grandpa is also trapped here as a ghost, and his connection to his living grandson allowed Leota to call out to him - only a living person can set the ghosts free. When Danny mentions he's only seen monsters and no ghosts apart from her, Leota chants an incantation to let him see the unseeable, causing the Phantom Five to appear.
Danny asks why Leota cannot escape if she was able to reach him, and she answers that she had only just enough haunting power left to reach him, and is unable to stop the Captain herself. She reiterates, despite Danny's insistence that he's a poor choice for a savior, that he can only speak to his grandfather's ghost and free his soul to wander the world again by undoing the Captain's influence on the mansion. The Phantom Five are to be Danny's guides as he seeks the Captain's secrets. Leota warns Danny to also avoid the attic and its resident specter, Constance.
As Danny follows the ghostly instruments of the Phantom Five down the Endless Hallway, one of the portrait creatures - the skeletal knight on horseback - watches from the shadows and murmurs about how the kid must be stopped before he ruins the Captain's plans, before he is seemingly decapitated from behind by a hatchet. The hatchet-wielding ghost watches Danny go, declaring she is coming for him.
Issue 2 Edit
(first released April 20th, 2016)
The Phantom Five guide Danny to the mansion's Grand Hall, where a swinging wake is in progress. He is quickly introduced to Pickwick, while unseen behind Danny, the spirit of Constance fades away before entering, saying to herself that the hall is cursed. Pickwick tells Danny that all the ghosts here had originally gathered to discuss their entrapment in the house, but it turned into party somehow. The spirits may still come and go as they please through the mansion, but every passage outside has been magically locked; to demonstrate, Pickwick attempts to open a door out and is blasted back by a spectral force.
Suddenly, the Dueling Ghosts step out of their paintings and start shooting at Danny, who takes cover behind the dining table. Pickwick chases them off, then tells Danny they were among the first ghosts to fall under the Captain's thrall. Because the Captain was one of the ghosts who actually died on the property, he has some control over the dark magic of the house, though he only discovered his powers recently. When Danny mentions that Leota warned him to avoid Constance, Pickwick nearly panics until he's told she's not around, and when Danny asks Pickwick why he and the others don't just leave the Grand Hall, Pickwick scoffs and asks why anyone would want to leave such a party. Danny points out that Pickwick said so himself earlier, but the ghost seems to have forgotten their conversation.
Pickwick asks Danny why he's come to the mansion, and Danny tells him about his grandpa; in a flashback sequence, a young Danny brings his broken bike home and meets his grandpa, recently back from a trip to Borneo. Danny was dared to jump a swimming pool on his bike and at the last minute he crashed it, but his grandpa commends him for even trying. It's revealed that Grandpa dearly missed his deceased wife, and that he hoped to find her again one day.
Back in the present, Danny wonders if perhaps his grandpa came to the mansion looking for his grandma, and now he's trapped with the rest. Pickwick tries to convince Danny to abandon his worries and join the party instead, becoming increasingly insistent and sinister as he does. Pickwick also tells the Hitchhiking Ghosts on the side that he likes Danny and hopes he'll become a permanent resident.
Meanwhile, in a flooded basement beneath the mansion, the ghost of the Captain is informed by the Duelists that Leota has summoned Danny for help, while the cat-lady portrait ghoul breaks the news that the horseman has been made headless thanks to Constance's hatchet. The Captain tells his henchmen that Constance is a threat, since her ax might be able to cut through his magic somehow, but that Danny is top priority. In an introspective moment, he tells of how he came to the mansion: once a pirate raiding the seas, he was told by a dying witch doctor of an immense treasure hidden within a haunted mansion. The Captain searched the world for the place he desired and finally discovered the mansion, though he was drowned before he could find the treasure. Trapped as a ghost and bound to the house where he died, he resents the other ghosts ability to come and go at will and cursed the Grand Hall to ensure no one left while he continued to seek the fabled fortune. The Captain vows that he will get Danny's help, whether the boy wants to or not.
Back in the hall, Danny is hesitant to join the revelry despite the encouragement of the ghosts, but Pickwick promises to help if he just cuts loose and has fun for a while. Danny does, and gets caught up in a whirl of dancing, joking and merriment. Gradually his memories fade until he's forgotten why he's there, but he no longer cares. Pickwick and the Phantom Five all laugh and cheer along with him as they celebrate indefinitely.
Issue 3 Edit
(first released May 18th, 2016)
The Captain, searching for the treasure, uses his enchanted cutlass to open a hidden door in an upstairs hall, only to find another empty room. Having scoured the mansion top to bottom, he realizes there's only one room he has not explored, and one he dares not enter without help. He travels to the Grand Hall to find Danny still madly partying with the other ghosts. When the Captain realizes Danny is being affected by the hall's curse and will not leave willingly, he cast another spell that turns the Hitchhiking Ghosts into hulking, grotesquely monstrous phantoms that begin smashing up the hall.
Still oblivious to the danger, Danny get thrown over the threshold of the hall and regains his memories as the spell breaks. The Captain comes bearing down on him, cutting one of the Hitchhikers arms off with his cutlass, but Danny is interrupted by the sudden arrival of the Hatbox Ghost, who spirits Danny away before the Captain can reach them (despite claiming he does not like to meddle in the affairs of other haunts).
When the pair re-materialize, they are in the Endless Staircase, a limbo of stairways running at odd angles. The Hatbox Ghost tells Danny that he is the first mortal to see it, and that despite its maze-like quality, the Hatbox Ghost knows the secret to navigating them and traveling to other haunted locations around the world. He explains that he had once wandered quite freely and was away for a long time, but now finds that the doors are locked and the ghosts of the mansion are fighting, because they have not accepted that they need to rest in peace.
The Hatbox Ghost takes Danny to the hidden Ghostly Materials Gallery, full of paintings of haunted buildings worldwide (including the Liberty Square mansion, Phantom Manor and the Museum of the Weird). He explains that the magic of the Haunted Mansion is not unique, and is tied to many places - sometimes these places are created so the dead can retire, sometimes they are built just to be explored, but all serve as reminders that life should be celebrated, even in death. However, the Captain has trapped the mansion's magic along with the ghosts, and it is up to Danny to find a way out so the ghosts and the mystical powers can be free again. Danny says he's too afraid, to which the Hatbox Ghost replies "Anything... that isn't a little scary in life... usually isn't worth doing..."
They take another passage to the library, where the Hatbox Ghost leaves Danny to face this task alone. Suddenly the Captain appears on a balcony holding Madame Leota's crystal ball, and threatens to smash her to the floor unless she tells Danny the truth. When pressed, Leota reveals that she lied about Danny's grandpa: that his ghost was never in the mansion to begin with, that Leota only reached out to Danny because she saw him talking to his grandfather's grave, figuring he might be able to help. She begins to tell Danny something about breaking the curse, but the Captain shatters the ball before Leota can finish, presumably destroying her.
The Captain threatens Danny to help him find his treasure so that his soul will be unbound to terrorize the world, or else be slain. To succeed, Danny will be forced to search the one room in the house the Captain will not explore: the attic.
Issue 4 Edit
(first released June 29th, 2016)
Flashing back to 1879, a living Constance prepares for her sixth wedding in the company of her aged mother, who laments the rumors surrounding the deaths of her daughter's five previous husbands under mysterious circumstances. She is glad someone else has proposed to Constance despite all the "bad luck" that has surrounded her. She leaves to greet the guests, and Constance brandishes a hatchet as she anticipates the "gift" she'll give to her husband that night.
Back in the present, the Captain tells Danny his theories about how Constance may have met her end on that wedding night, at the hands of her sixth husband, but he doesn't know for certain... and Constance certainly isn't telling. He also reveals that he hatchet can kill any soul that she strikes with it, living or dead. Suddenly Pickwick, the Mummy and the Valkyrie burst out of the floor and attack the Captain. Pickwick flees with Danny while the Captain fights the other ghosts, revealing that the Hitchhiking Ghosts transformation broke the curse on the Grand Hall and freed the haunts from its influence. Pickwick urges Danny to run to the attic, saying he might be able to escape out a window he saw there once, before fading away.
Having dispatched the Mummy and Valkyrie with his cutlass, the Captain summons a torrent of water and sends it after Danny, flooding the halls. Danny swims to a spiral staircase and continues upward, arriving in the mansion's cupola where the corpse of the Ghost Host hangs by a noose, high above the Stretching Room. Danny hesitates, worried he won't be able to make the jump to one of the cupola windows, and flashes back to an October day when he and his grandpa were putting up Halloween decorations on the roof of his house. Danny is too afraid to climb a ladder, but his grandpa encourages him to climb despite his fear, saying it's the only way he'll get anywhere.
Danny makes a leap and grabs onto the hanging corpse, trying to swing across the gap to the window. He misses, but tries to get the corpse to swing toward it again. The skeletal remains begin breaking, and Danny is forced to jump back to the ledge before the the corpse completely falls apart.
Out of options, Danny follows another passage to a doorway, which opens into the attic. Constance is there, seated among her wedding mementos and chanting her cryptic vows. Danny hides while Constance talks to the portraits of her husbands, saying that she loved their money more than them, but even though she's alone she's glad they're dead. Danny spots an old sea chest and creeps toward it. He opens it, but finds it empty, and wonders if there was ever a treasure after all, though this thought is cut off when he notices the open attic window and thinks it might be his way out.
Suddenly Constance is there, looming over him with her hatchet raised. Danny dodges her attack as Constance demands another wedding, raving that her motives were never about the men or the money, but that she just really liked weddings. Danny attempts to bargain with Constance to let him leave and, in return, he'll find someone else to marry her. She takes another swing, and Danny avoids it... by falling out the attic window.
Issue 5 Edit
(first released July 27th, 2016)
Danny lands in the graveyard behind the mansion, bruised but alive and right in front of the Caretaker and his skinny dog. The Caretaker runs away as multitudes of ghosts suddenly come pouring out the mansion behind them, thanking Danny for breaking the curse and setting them free. Pickwick explains that by finding the way out, and in doing so overcoming his fears, Danny lifted the spell on the mansion's haunts...including the Captain, who emerges from the mansion as a unfettered phantom.
The Captain plans to start pillaging and plundering the world with his new freedom, and to slay any and all beings that get in his way. Danny throws himself in front of the other ghosts to protect them, drawing the Captain away and barely dodging his attacks. The Captain demands Danny reveal the treasure to him, and doesn't believe him when he says there was no treasure in the attic. Just as he is about to deliver a killing blow, the ghost of Danny's grandpa rushes in and knocks the Captain over with a punch.
Grandpa reveals that he had been with Danny the whole time, unable to reach out to him but invisibly staying by Danny when he visited his grave and when he first set foot on the grounds. He could not enter the house due to the Captain's curse, and instead waited out in the graveyard for Danny to escape. He commends Danny not for being fearless, but for using his fear to drive him and not let it control him. The Captain rises again in a murderous rage, only to have his head lopped from his shoulders by Constance's hatchet as she suddenly appears behind him. Constance retreats to the mansion, claiming she's glad things are back to normal again before her wedding day.
Overjoyed that they can come and go as they please again, Pickwick and the other ghosts throw a graveyard jamboree. Danny learns from a restored Madame Leota, intact in her crystal ball, that the mansion itself was the treasure, being a place of rest and peace for those in the afterlife; the Captain's obsession with riches kept him from seeing the true value of the mansion. She apologizes to Danny for lying, saying she acted out of fear, and Danny forgives her.
Noting Leota's spell that lets Danny see ghosts is still working, Grandpa takes Danny aside to meet the ghost of his grandmother, whom Grandpa had found while Danny was in the mansion. Their reunion is short and sweet, as the ghostly grandparents urge Danny to keep living his life to the fullest before setting off to explore the world's other haunted spots.
The story concludes with an epilogue, detailing the aftermath of events. More and more ghosts are visiting the mansion, while Leota has returned to her seances with her powers recovered; Constance continues to haunt the attic, preparing for her next wedding; the Captain's disembodied head is kept guarded in a hatbox by the Hatbox Ghost to prevent him from reforming; and Pickwick is the host of many of the nightly parties in the graveyard.
Meanwhile, Danny has put up a sign for the Ghost Relations Department outside the mansion, to help give the people of New Orleans a better idea of what the mansion's purpose is. His parents are doing better, connecting to Danny again after he talked to them and they grieved together. He's likewise making new friends, though he has not forgotten his other friends at the mansion - as demonstrated when Danny states that Leota's spell seems to have stuck, and that a certain trio of hitchhikers have frequently followed Danny home.