When I first saw Marvel Apes solicited, I said to myself, "No way." No way was I buying it, no way was I reading it, even if it was free. Of course, then Augie looked at his bullpen of reviewers, and in his best J. Jonah Jameson bellow, shouted out, "PARKER!" When no one answered that, Augie realized that none of us were named Parker and changed his tone. He put this book out and offered it up. With no "Final Crisis" and no "Secret Invasion" on the shipping list for the week, surely THIS BOOK would be the highlight of the week.
Then, I suspect, Augie returned to his lair of Augie-ness, cackling all the way.
Taking the bait, I decided to review this book. After all, I remember reading a "Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man" nearly twenty years ago that featured the lead character from this adventure, the Gibbon.
As can only happen in the world of comics, the Gibbon, while lamenting his place in our world, is thrown headlong into an adventure that takes him into a world resembling one of his dreams wherein he is among others with simian-like features and talents. But the underlying theme in this issue is "be careful what you wish for".
The world Gibbon finds himself on is filled with a ruling simian class, where the heroes of the day are the likes of Spider-Monkey, Iron Mandrill, Gro-Rilla (an analogue of Yellowjacket) and such. Much like the real world, among the animals, justice carries a different meaning, as a jury of peers is not the same as in the world of Homo sapiens.
Bachs turns in a workmanlike effort, but throughout the primary tale, I cannot shake a mental comparison between the appearance of the Gibbon and Mark McKenna's "BananaTail." That said, it cannot be easy for an artist to shift gears so significantly as to try to render the naturally comical anatomy of lower primates when he is accustomed to drawing things in a more realistic manner.
The backup tale is crafted by the duo of Tom Peyer and Barry Kitson and provides a history of the Marvel Universe dominated by apes and monkeys that Gibbon and his gal-pal Fiona Fitzhugh find themselves stranded in during the primary tale. Needless to say, Kitson's work is grand as always, and Peyer brings a lightheartedness to this segment.
All in all, this book hits a mark much higher than I had set for it, but given the nature of apes, very few things are ever out of reach. That's not to say this was a great book, but I have purchased worse. While I was hesitant to pick this one up, I found myself almost enjoying the purchase in spite of my expectations. I'm certain that I did not enjoy it enough to have my LCS hold a copy of #2 for me, but if it happens to be available, I would at the very least flip through it.