James Copland

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James Copland
James in Kong: Gods of Skull Island
Species Human
Occupation Missionary
Related to Mary Talbot (Love Interest)
First appearance Kong: Gods of Skull Island
In fifty years' time, any sign of my life and work will be dust in the wind. I tried to claim this place, but failed. Tried to save Mary, but failed. This place is his. Kong is real. It was me that wasn't. I am a ghost. Less than a man in a land of gods. Gods laid low by one of their own. All hail mighty Kong.

— Copland's closing monologue

James Copland was a Christian missionary dying of lung failure who discovered Skull Island by accident in 1912 while attempting to kill himself. He debuted in the 2017 Kong of Skull Island graphic novel Kong: Gods of Skull Island.


Kong: Gods of Skull Island

In 1912, James discovered he was dying of a lung condition and flew into a storm west of Sumatra to kill himself. However, while flying, Copland discovered an island with a small civilization, and flew back to Sumatra, intending to explore it. Three months later, he approached the island by sea with the crew of the Contender. Copland guessed that they were to be the first white people on the island, and intended to bring them Christianity, and along with it their interpretation of civilization. During their approach, they noticed several people on the shore, so James ordered for their companion ship to head to the other side of the island to search for another entry point in case things went poorly. Before landing, James gave a speech to the crew about how even if they were met poorly, the natives were to be treated with compassion and understanding, and assured them that while they might be unwilling to hear them now, but that their grandchildren would thank them. When they reached the beach, James noticed that the people were scarecrows, similar to ones he had seen before, meant to scare off intruders. These scarecrows however, were not geared for attack, but just seemed to be engaging in daily behaviors like conversation and carrying water. Just as he was remarking this to the group, one grabbed him. It turned out to be a small, disfigured boy, whom their companion Mister Hodge attempted to attack before being stopped by Copland and Mary Talbot. James offered him an apple, while their interpreter, Mr. Patel told them that the boy seemed to be telling them they shouldn't have come. The man's father struck the boy, and a Shaman named Bar-Atu came from the crowd and confronted them before a woman who identified herself as the Storyteller came to call for them to cease their hostility.

The next morning, Copland found Talbot talking to some of the islanders, including the boy from the beach, whose name was Kupak. James noticed that she had already been teaching Christianity, and she told James that their god was a giant who lived in a mountain. That night, Mr. Patel told them his findings on the culture. Half of the islanders followed the Storyteller, and the other half followed Bar-Atu and his Church of Kong. The followers of Kong smoked a black vine that grew on the island's great wall and told tales of the Kong. James took a cigarette, and listened to the stories. Long ago, an evil wizard came to Skull Island to use his magic to kill Kong. He created golems of flight, fire, stone, and steel. Kong easily slayed them all. The wizard then resurrected the bones of Kong's ancestors, but Kong put them back into the ground, and the wizard with them. One hundred years later, white slavers from the outside came to the island and killed many of the Tagatu warriors before the Pteranodons began to attack them and the Sea Creatures destroyed their slave ships, pushing them back into the jungles where Kong and the Deathrunners came for him. When the hallucinogen wore off, James was approached by Mr. Hodge who informed him that their other ship still had not returned. James opted to wait until tomorrow to send some men over the wall to search for the other ship, not wanting to risk the Contender if it was their only transportation. However he did suggest they search for natural resources to begin to think about trade.

One month later, James oversaw the construction of a Christian Church after the destruction of their previous attempt, but all the while the third ship that was supposed to come after them was three weeks late. However, James heard news that their Captain, Mister Riley, was still taking missions to search for the other boat, despite the Contender's value at their only means of leaving. Riley revealed that he had found a cove a few miles North, which was the only safe place the other ship could have landed. Mary agreed with Riley and took James away to talk. She had noticed his horrible cough, and asked if that was the reason he refused to leave the island. Mary expressed her worries that the Tagatu were using them, and that when their gifts ran out, so would their safety among them. She feared that James' fanaticism was not worth the minimal resources they had found on the island. James however, reflected on the Contender's past failures, where the civilizations they had left behind had taken to the ideas of other civilizations just as easily as they had taken to their's. James felt that Skull Island was his last chance at building a legacy for himself. Mary understood James' feelings, but tried to make him understand that it was a lost cause. She then shared plans to leave the island with Kupak, whom she felt was too sweet and bright to be safe on the island. James stubbornly refused to let the Contender go, and told Mary that she could take the next ship when it came. Mary angrily tolh him that the next ship was never coming, and James told her to quit if she wanted, but maintained that he would never leave the island.

One night, while smoking and listening to Bar-Atu tell of they young Kong and his mother defeating a giant worm that lived underground that had kidnapped him, James turned to Kupak and told him that if he wanted to leave the island and be a proper Christian, he needed to give testimony. Kupak then entered the Church of Kong and began to recite Bible verses, which resulted in his father rising from the crowd to beat him. Mary scolded James for his actions, and demanded to take the ship and crew, but James sarcastically remarked that Kupak had simply shown the courage of his dedication. That night, while under the influence of the hallucinogen, and dreaming of having sex with Mary, he was taken by Bar-Atu from his tent, and to the top of the wall, where they were spoken to by the Storyteller. Copland awoke with a start, and Mary cut his bonds and told him that because of his stunt with Kupak, their camp had been burned and they were banished. However, two crewmen managed to escape with the Contender. She began to berate James for his death-wish, but a serpentine creature came hissing out of the jungle. Luckily Hodge was able to scare them off with their guns, which he had gotten from their tent while the others were being gathered up. Mister Patel then told them that the Storyteller had told him that the only place the predators did not hunt was on Skull Mountain, for that was Kong's domain. The party headed North, and passed a pit of bones of Spanish Conquistadors. Despite this, James maintained that there was no such thing as Kong, and the skeletons were not necessarily slavers. As they made their way through the jungle, they were attacked by everything from the animals to the plants. The group sought shelter in a cave, where they found the corpse of one of their crewmen from the lost ship, and its captain, who had gone mad and lived in a colony of odd birds. Despite his claims that Kong was watching them, and the presence of an enormous worm-like skeleton, James maintained that there was no such thing as Kong. After fleeing the cave, they cross a Kong graveyard, and through the surrounding fog, Mary spotted the peak of Skull Mountain. But at that point, odd creatures Mr. Patel dubbed Harpies, began to sing, and an enormous dinosaur attacked. Even as the harpies began to call out Kong's name, he maintained he was not real.

However, the fabled Kong came to their rescue and tore the beast's top jaw from its body before turning on the humans. He then leaped to attack the Contender crewmen, and killed most of them, including Mister Hodge. After the battle, he saw James and Mary on the ground. He poked at Mary and smelled her before picking her up and walking off with her toward Skull Mountain. In an attempt to spare Mary a fate worse than death, James shot at Kong, but to no avail. Mary looked back at him from the giant's great fist. Two of the remaining crewmen carried James to where the Contender was waiting on a Northern shore, and he finally admitted that Kong was real, and that he himself was simply a ghost in a land of gods.



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