If you've watched the original Planet of the Apes movies you will want to see what the planet was like twenty years before a man named Taylor fell from the stars.
Comic books don't often contain animals. The focus is usually on superheroes, vehicles and buildings. The very first thing you will notice is Gabriel Hardman's art. Being able to capture the look of the "apes" is what could make or break a Planet of the Apes comic. Not only does Hardman succeed in his portrayal of the apes, he also does an excellent job drawing horses and the building structures we've seen in the movies.
The comic opens with some lines from The Sacred Scrolls of the Lawgiver. They warn of the savage nature of man and we get an idea how their more civilized approach sets them above humans. We also discover that the most sacred commandment is "Ape Does Not Kill Ape." That being said, you know it most likely won't be long before someone comes along and breaks that commandment.
As with the previous comic from BOOM!, it's fascinating to get a look at the time before the movies took place. Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman do a good job in crafting a tale that truly feels it fits in that same movie universe. Seeing a couple familiar faces helps to bridge the gap in time as well. The comic isn't simply about a planet run by apes. Getting a feel for the politics of the society and seeing how events are affecting the caste system is fascinating. When I watched the movies over and over, I never really gave much thought to what happened before the first movie. We knew there was a big gap in time but it's great to see how the society got to where it was in the films.
I mentioned Hardman's art. Accompanied by Jordie Bellaire's colors, this is a great book to just look at.
Our main character is a former general named Aleron. We're used to the apes being more aggressive and less forgiving but Aleron is proving to be the last of a dying breed. You can't help but wonder why he wasn't part of the movies though.
This is almost one of those stories where you feel things aren't going to end well. We know what the society is like when Taylor arrives and the slight bit of corruption here almost leaves a bad taste in your mouth. This isn't a complaint against the comic but you shouldn't expect this to be the most uplifting comic you'll read this week.
There is also a mix of action and dialogue. Both are equally good but the few moments of action made me crave for more when Aleron was talking to council.
As a big fan of the original Planet of the Apes movies, this is, once again, a welcome treat. We know what society was like in those films and getting to see what it was like prior is nice. In the movies and comics, there is an emphasis on the caste system. Seeing it break down is almost like discovering the secret to a magic trick. This is the beginning of the end of life as they know it. Gabriel Hardman's art with Jordie Bellaire's colors are a sight to be seen. Compared to some Planet of the Apes comics I recall from the 80s, this interpretation is a welcomed surprise. We can assume the story won't have a happy ending but it's almost like reading about history. We know where the ape society ends up but now we get more information as to why it turned out the way it did.