‘Apes’ comics give fans what they wantWritten by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In this time of comic book reboots, relaunches and great uncertainty, it’s nice to know you can count on a few damn dirty apes. The “Planet of the Apes” franchise is enjoying something of a renaissance, with a new feature film and an excellent new comic book series.
“Planet of the Apes,” from BOOM! Studios, gives “Apes” fans what they want: stories set within the continuity of the original film series. Forget that Tim Burton “re-imagining” from a few years ago; the comic sets itself “1,200 years before a man named Taylor fell from the stars …” If you remember, the five “Apes” movies were something of a loop, each one feeding into the next. Writer Daryl Gregory cleverly plants the comic in a time period between the last film, “Battle of the Planet of the Apes,” and the 1968 Charlton Heston classic. It’s fertile ground for a fascinating tale: humans are losing everything that once made them masters of the world and the apes continue to rise in supremacy. Into this boiling kettle is sprinkled an assassin, who kills the ape Lawgiver and sets off further tensions between the simians and the increasingly subjugated humans.
All credit must be given to Gregory, a novelist by trade, for his characters. The denizens of “Skintown,” the human ghetto, are led by, of all things, a pregnant woman. Here is no buxom, bubbleheaded blonde in a loincloth; Mayor Sullivan is pretty, yes, but also intelligent, willful and full of action, despite her condition. The apes are represented by Sullivan’s former playmate, the Lawgiver’s daughter Alaya, and the towering Nix, a gorilla general who is released from prison to bring in the assassin. These characters crackle with life to the point that you’ll yearn to one day see them on the silver screen.
“Apes” artist Carlos Magno infuses the series with scruffy life and detail. While his apes tend to be a blend of the original film primates and the Burton reboot, Magno draws everything on the page with careful attention, making you want to go back and savor the art after devouring the words. He and Gregory have produced a book worthy of the “Apes” legacy.
Just in time for the new “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” film, August brings the fourth issue of the comic’s first story arc, the trade paperback collection of the first four issues and “Planet of the Apes” No. 5 for only $1. Get your paws on them, ape lovers.