If I didn’t know better, I would swear that this story is a comic book adaptation of an unseen “Planet of the Apes” movie from the 1970s. That isn’t simply because of the apparel the apes wear, the settings this story occurs in, or the appearance of Dr. Zaius. Those items do factor into the overall experience, but the essence of the story just feels like an original “Apes” movie.
Set twenty years before Taylor invades their society, this adventure of the apes shows a great deal about their society. Corinna Bechko and husband, co-writer, and artist Gabriel Hardman show the apes going about ape business, but some of that business is the daily affairs of the law of their society. Most specifically, “ape does not kill ape.”
Readers of the first issue know that there is a great deal of falsehood in that statement. This issue illustrates that all the more. In the previous issue, the reader was witness to one such killing. In this issue another is implied. The end result is a thrilling mystery that has political and social implications. Bechko and Hardman quickly established the premise of the tale in the last issue, but also included action and intrigue, which they really let fly in this issue.
The duo layers in a mystery from the past to shade the problem of the present. Former General (now referred to consistently as “Citizen”) Aleron has been brought up on charges of murdering his long-missing lieutenant, Varus. That leads to Aleron being imprisoned, which adds a whole new setting to this briskly-paced tale.
Hardman’s work is a perfect fit for any “Planet of the Apes” product. It amazes me how many comic professionals just don’t get “apes” right, but that is completely not the case for Hardman. He could be giving “How to Draw Apes” lessons. After all, he drew many of the adventures of Ken Hale (a.k.a. Gorilla-Man). He’s a natural fit for the characters and his style is equally suited for the dim, hard-chiseled world of the Apes.
While we’re not given a satisfactory conclusion to the tale in this issue — it is, after all, only the second installment in this series — we’re definitely given reason to come back for more. This series is full of uncertainty and excitement, great characters, a good setting, and the possibility for, well, anything to happen. I have no doubt that whatever happens, Bechko and Hardman are going to make it well worth it to follow along. Congratulations to BOOM! For not only delivering more “Planet of the Apes” product, but delivering more high-quality product that contributes to the legacy of the brand rather than just adding more clutter to the shelves.