"Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes" is a fantastic title on many levels. There are so many people who should be reading this comic. Obviously, Ape fans are all over it. But if you dig on crime comics, here you go. If you enjoy comics for the art, a master class is at your disposal. If you grew up on the cinematic stylings of 70s cinema, this will scratch you right where you're itching. This is a comic hard not to love on.
The continued efforts of the establishment to bring down Aleron continue. With three of the four issues down, this book is a crisp crime drama where bleak turns abysmal in the hopes of extinguishing the light of truth and purity in any of these good apes. Things only get worse. The fact that we still don't know Aleron's original actions makes the tension thicker; we can't be sure which truth to believe. I hope he did kill Varus because so far it feels justified. Aleron can join the ranks with Popeye Doyle of hard-ass leads I want to kill the bad people.
Amidst the character moments and nuance, we also get genre defining set pieces. Aleron is incarcerated and as such we get an ape riot within the prison walls. Gabriel Hardman draws these scenes like he's channeling the might of Frank Miller and the artistic heart of Hal Foster. Even wordless action sequences become virtuosic orchestras of mood and strength. Hardman makes a dropdown from an ape feel like hundreds of pounds of muscle thudding onto your page.
It could almost be enough that this book looks so wonderful. Jordie Bellaire continues to thematically deliver her colors so characters and situations have their own mood. You could tear out these pages, lay them in order on your floor, and feel the passion and violence of the tale from afar.
It should also be mentioned how unfair it is for one title to be given two gorgeous covers. Variant covers are not always pretty on the eye. Hardman and Declan Shalvey work tirelessly to outdo each other every month and the winners are the readers every time. (I would declare Shalvey the winner this month, though.)
This book succeeds because it is inherently involved in delivering a taut tale of characters and situations. This isn't resting on the laurels of being an Ape book, nor of having speaking characters covered in hair. Bechko and Hardman make interesting parallels between ape hierarchy and race assumptions in our world. Yet there isn't a wink or a nod at all while it's played out. This book is for keeps and must strictly be taken seriously.
"Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes" is so easily and effectively put together. One of the best products BOOM! has put out recently, which is saying something. This terse thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat because you care so much for the characters and you honestly worry things might not work out so well. That feeling of your fingers creasing these pages is the sound of you being engaged. Enjoy it.