Artist Carlos Magno deserves a medal for his work on “Planet of the Apes” #15. This issue features a coup in the city of Mak, a call to arms from the Ghost Battalion and a struggle over the fate of Julian.
Magno illustrates all of those scenes to further writer Daryl Gregory’s tale of Julian, a silent human born of Sully, the former mayor of Skintown. As this series goes, war was declared upon humans a decade previous to this arc. At that time, Sully’s newborn son was taken by the ruler of the Apes: Voice Alaya. In the time since, the humans that were lucky enough to survive the attack on Skintown have been marshalling their forces, waiting for a chance to strike back at the apes.
Although this is part three of a storyline and the fifteenth issue of “Planet of the Apes,” this story is wonderfully wide open. There’s a brief summary on the inside front cover, but Gregory’s straight ahead story is action-packed enough to encourage readers to dive in and worry about their bearings later. The action that occurs in this issue is just a segment of the larger narrative that Gregory and Magno have been producing for well over a year.
Magno, unlike so many of his contemporaries is able to draw distinctly recognizable humans who carry unique traits much as you would find in real life. Beyond that, however, Magno delivers distinctly recognizable apes as well. So many comic book artists struggle with drawing animals that the very concept of having to draw characters with animalistic appearances that need to be distinguishable from one another would have them throwing down their pencils in agony. The gorilla soldiers are discernibly different from the chimpanzees like Voice Alaya. Even among the ape species there are distinctions. Alaya cannot possibly be confused with Nerise. While both are female and chimp, each moves in an inimitable manner and has physical features all her own.
Magno goes beyond characters (ape and human) and renders backgrounds, weaponry, horses and scenery with the same dedication and passion. Even in black and white this would be a stunningly gorgeous book, but Magno has the luxury of being colored by Darrin Moore. The colorist dazzles up the panels with spectacular hues and patterns. Never are any characters lost in the murkiness of muted color, but in the same, the color palette remains hushed. After all, this is not a superhero book.
Letterer Travis Lanham completes the visual package. Lanham’s work with the narration boxes (the only way we know anything about how Julian thinks) across the range of characters featured contributes to the individuality being established here.
Once you enter “Planet of the Apes,” Carlos Magno’s art is certain to amaze while Daryl Gregory’s story convinces you that this is the right comic for excitement, adventure, wonder and awe. This is a book that needs to be seen to truly be appreciated. Treat yourself to a peek in our previews. You don’t have to be a fan of any other incarnation of the “Planet of the Apes” brand to appreciate this series, but it does certainly help augment that appreciation. Month in and month out, this is the one non-big-two book I look forward to the most and it consistently delivers.