Moreci Rises To The Challenge Of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"

Michael Moreci ("Hoax Hunters") and Dan McDaid ("Vandroid") will be chronicling the ape revolution in the "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" miniseries from BOOM! Studios. The six issue, November 26-launching series takes place in the decade-long gap between 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and this year's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" as ape leader Caesar amasses power and humans Rita and Malcolm attempt to save their species.

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A franchise reboot, "Rise" focused on a chimp named Caesar whose mother was exposed to an Alzheimer's drug while pregnant. Her offspring not only inherited his mom's natural intelligence, but also genes altered by the drug which made him super smart. After several years and a variety of circumstances, Caesar exposed his fellow primate sanctuary residents to an updated version of drug and lead an uprising against humanity that continued ten years later in "Dawn." Unfortunately for people, the drug kicks off a deadly simian flu that ravages the human race while enhancing their evolving enemies.

Known for Image comics like "Hoax Hunters" and "Curse," Moreci has been expanding his line-up with a variety of new projects. He and "Hoax Hunters" co-writer Steve Seeley teamed up for "Hack/Slash: Son of Samhain" at Image, "My Little Pony: A Brony Adventure" #1 at Dynamite and "Prime-8's" at MonkeyBrain. Earlier this year, Moreci wrote his first comic at BOOM! with the "Robocop: Hominem Ex Machina" one-shot which helped lead to heading up the new "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" series.

CBR News spoke with Moreci about chronicling this era of Planet of the Apes history, the human characters trying to survive the ape takeover and his personal history with the long running franchise.

CBR News: Michael, before getting into the details of your story, let's talk about "Planet of the Apes" as a whole. What's your history with the franchise?

Michael Moreci: I know it's the requisite thing to say, but I've always been a huge "POTA" fan. I saw the original who-knows-how-many years ago, and it stuck with me. What the series accomplishes is right up my alley, that mixture of an adventurous, sci-fi/pulp story with really smart, subversive things to say underlying it all. I think Jonathem Lethem calls it "brain candy," a term I find really apt.

Granted, the first set of films have become a little dated. A little -- I think their immersion in pop culture have aged them more than an actual viewing of the movies. When "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" came out, man, it was so good that it made all the other films feel as smart and salient as ever. And "Rise," in its own right, is a brilliant movie. I remember seeing it in the theatre with my wife and both of us walking out and both of us being head over feet for it -- it was so smart, entertaining and touching.

And we haven't even spoken about the comics! The series by Daryl Gregory, Gabe Hardman and Corinna Bechko are incredible. I'm not kidding -- the Gregory run which takes place years and years before the first "POTA" movie is one of the best comics I've read in recent years, I kid you not.

Personally, as a comic fan steeped in continuity, I became fascinated by the chronology of the original films. Did that appeal to you too?

Well, thank God I didn't have to touch that. Because the whole time-traveling aspect of it can get dicey and -- challenging. As a fan, though, I love that stuff -- like, that Zira is kind of her own inspiration? That's really cool. Not to mention the presence of the original Caesar and how his actions may or may not have prevented the cataclysmic events of "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" -- it's such goofy fun.

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You're working in a different world, though, the one set up by "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." For you, is it more or less of a challenge adding to a world with so many fewer existing stories?

Way less challenging. The original films are so lived-in that it's nice to be able to contribute to a more compact and linear chronology. Not to mention it's really the right place at the right time. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" has been wildly successful and, I'd argue, was the best blockbuster movie of the summer. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to tell a story in the original "POTA" continuity, but jumping into the nu-Apes has been a blast. The whole setup is extremely convenient for me. Between "Rise" and "Dawn," there's a ten-year gap, which leaves a whole lot of room to tell interesting stories bringing those two pieces together. At the end of "Rise," the apes are fleeing into the woods; in "Dawn," they established a complex society. How did they bridge that gap? What were the struggles along the way? It's a fascinating hole to fill, and I'm glad to have the opportunity to do so.

When working on something like this that fills the gaps between two films, do you have any interaction with the studios or screenwriters?

Not directly -- they don't talk to a lowly comic writer like me! Everything goes through my wonderful and patient editor. They've definitely been present, helping to steer the ship in a certain direction and keeping tabs on keeping the universe consistent.

Anyone who has seen "Dawn" knows that things don't go so well for humanity in that decade span. What can you tell us about the decline of man?

It's been a challenging thing to depict, because I really want to do justice to the intelligent nature of the series. I don't want to go the tired route of post-apocalyptic road story, where the hallmark characteristic of the story is how relentlessly bleak things can get. I have zero interest in that kind of story. Humanity's decline, in this world, is attributed to an inability to cope in a world without the resources and utilities we rely on. There's no marauding cannibals; it's more about the desperation to fulfill our modern needs of energy, health and food. That's a big part of Malcolm and his family's journey -- they need to find a sustainable place to live, somewhere that will provide safety, food and stability.

We see this mirrored in the apes side of the story, how Caesar -- through some challenges -- is leading his kind to adapt to their new world and embrace their newly acquired freedom. Caesar and the apes are succeeding in adapting to this post-plague world; the humans are not.

What can you tell readers about the human characters in this book, Malcolm and Rita? Why do they take on the responsibility of trying to find a cure for the plague?

Well, I don't think I should reveal too much. But their reasons are certainly clear and very personal. It blends their purposes to find a suitable place to live and, at the most basic level, stay alive.

What's it been like working with artist Dan McDaid on this book?

Great! It's funny, but I was about to approach Dan for an Image book when I found out he got the "POTA" gig, so it's nice being able to collaborate with him. Dan's a great artist and really perfect for the book; I know he'll bring the story where it needs to be.

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" #1 from Michael Moreci, Dan McDaid and BOOM! Studios rises on Nov. 26.

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