"Planet of the Apes: Volume 1" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Daryl Gregory
Illustrated by Carlos Magno
2011, 112 Pages, $9.99
Trade Paperback released on October 18th, 2011
I don't know about you, but I love monkeys. Sure it would be awful to have one as a pet because they'd be shitting everywhere and I don't keep any fruit in my house, but I still think they're cool. You can imagine my fascination with the Planet of the Apes movies. I love that series both because of the simian involvement as well as the comprehensive story. It's a big circle when you get down to it and that is just awesome. While I haven't seen the latest film, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the first trade paperback from BOOM! Studios, continuing the Planet of the Apes story in comic book form.
The comic takes place 1,300 years before George Taylor arrives on the Planet of the Apes. I guess you could also say that it takes place some time after Battle for the Planet of the Apes too. The apes have struck up a shaky alliance with the humans. They live segregated, the people in Southtown (aka Skintown) while the monkeys live in the Industrial Zone. Things seem fine until the peaceful Lawgiver, the leader of the apes, is assassinated by a masked human. This causes tensions to rise between the two groups. In an interesting twist, it turns out the Lawgiver raised the human leader Sullivan side-by-side with his granddaughter Alaya. The pair of them view each other as sisters which makes the situation all the more difficult as both sides want answers. Alaya gets desperate and releases the gorilla war criminal Nix from prison in order to hunt down the assassin. Meanwhile, the humans are conducting their own investigation as they want to avoid all-out war.
Author Daryl Gregory does an amazing job weaving this new story into the already existing continuity of the Planet of the Apes franchise. There are nods to almost all of the films, such as the cult from Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Caesar's near religious status towards the end of the series. This is all handled while introducing an entirely new cast of characters at a pretty quick pace. This trade collects the first four issues of the ongoing series and a lot is packed into these pages without resorting to pure exposition.
The art on Planet of the Apes is handled by Carlos Magno. He has a very pulp fiction kind of style which fits this type of book very well. At the end of the day, this is a comic book about talking monkeys so it can be difficult to take it seriously at times. Fortunately, Magno keeps it grounded with pencils that are heavy on detail. The pacing flows like that of a movie, which is fitting considering the subject matter. The panels move similarly, having close up shots for some of the dialogue, but moving back for a wide view of some of the bigger, more epic scenes.
This is just the first volume from this ongoing series. I won't spoil the details, but this ends in a cliffhanger that is too good not to pick up the next issue. Gregory escalates the already tense situation to an even higher level. If you consider yourself a fan of Planet of the Apes at all, you should be reading this book.