I originally wanted to give this a go BEFORE I got anywhere near “Marvel Apes”, but my LCS had some issues getting a copy of “Guerillas”, so my review was delayed.
I had read of this book in an interview with Brahm Revel. I made a mental note to check it out. The book had a solid premise, that being the possibility that a platoon of apes could have been utilized in the Vietnam conflict. Interesting, I thought, especially if handled a touch realistically, rather than with Gorilla Grodd type primates.
What hit me immediately was Revel’s linework and tones. His work has a sense of graceful power akin to Darwyn Cooke, but the graytones add an emotional baggage Cooke was able to subdue with the colors of the heroes in “New Frontier”.
The content, however, is anything but subdued. Revel throws the reader hip deep into a rice paddy to slog alongside John Francis Clayton and company as they are ambushed by the Vietcong. Alongside the waste and bloodshed of the skirmishes, Revel also provides expletive vocabulary lessons aplenty, much as has previously been associated with the duties of our soldiers in wartime efforts.
The book provides an astonishing peek into the psyche of a young man, what informed his decisions and how he got to where he is now. At the end, however, is where the reader gets tagged by the promised original storyline, which was long-forgotten around the second time the characters were ambushed — militant chimpanzees.
The concept is an interesting one; chimpanzees are the great ape most closely related to humans. They are also the most violent of the ape species as well as the most trainable. Why not have them aid a wartime effort? Of course, none of these ideas would fly now, but in the 1970s, this very well could have been a reality. Albeit, it would have been an incredible stretch to achieve this as a reality, but it is certainly more likely than a hidden city filled with English speaking gorillas. This is comics after all.
In all, this book delivered a dark page-turner, but priced at $5.99, over the course of nine issues, this series also promises to be a wallet-burner. I figure I’ll give the next issue a go and see what happens from there.