Planet of the Apes #1

The latest comic book series to attempt to celebrate the planet ruled by apes comes from BOOM! and they've decided to go retro. This series calls more to the 1968 origins of the "Planet of the Apes" franchise than the Tim Burton remake from 2001.

Not content to simply stay in the "retro" realm, Carlos Magno contributes some stunningly detailed, photo-influenced (but not traced) art that makes this book an absolute visual treasure. The faces of the apes are distinct and discernable, from chimpanzee to gorilla to orangutan, they're here, they're well drawn, and they're magnificent. Magno's art is detailed and real, but carries in it sensibilities of art nouveau. That makes the details seem more detailed but cleaner and refined. The end result is a book that flirts with being cluttered visually, but stops at simply dazzling the senses. There are details on the details in this book, demanding to be studied, analyzed and soaked up. "Planet of the Apes," despite the dystopian setting and the gruff relationships depicted within it, is a beautiful looking book.

It's a darn good thing that the story matches the magnificence of the art. This story fits the world established in 1968, but adds in more intrigue and suspense. Daryl Gregory limits the number of characters he gives voice to in this issue, but he fills the world with color and character through those select few. Add in the assassination of the Lawgiver as depicted in the preview here on CBR and this book has a lot going for it beyond the simple juxtaposition of humans and damn dirty apes.

That assassination takes borderline trust and magnifies it, giving each side reason to cast suspicion upon the other. There are problems that have been lurking under the surface within this world, that much is clear in this issue, but the killing of ape (allegedly by human) threatens to scratch off the scab that has been holding back the oozing sore of inequality.

There's been a bit of flurry surrounding the upcoming "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" film. This book doesn't play off of that, in front of that, or tie into it, save for the "Planet of the Apes" brand. This is "Planet of the Apes" boiled down to what made it successful the first time around: ape and human engaged in philosophical conflict that becomes embodied by physical conflict. This is an exciting and gripping story that grabbed me by the nape of the neck and locked me for an intensely uninterrupted read.

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