“Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm” #4 shakes the foundations of the world around Dr. Zaius, thanks to the machinations of Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman and Damian Couceiro. Unfortunately, aside from tossing around Zaius’ name and burying him under calamities, there isn’t much in this book to celebrate, or even remember.
Overall, while Couceiro’s art is technically sound — he draws figures well and has them move through space in a believable fashion — many of the panels seem to be just a little too small. Either the size of the panels themselves is mismanaged or the characters depicted inside those panels are poorly planned. There are no panels in this book that are more than half a page large. Sure, that’s economical for image count, but it also eliminates any truly memorable images being able to proclaim their awesomeness as everything melts together in a collection of sameness. Additionally, this is a dim issue, filled with earthtones and shadows that may actually have been better served to be delivered in grayscale as the colors don’t accentuate the narrative.
The story itself is unapologetic and harsh, hitting Zaius in the worst possible ways as his family suffers all around him. Bechko and Hardman do a nice job building suspense and paying off readers with surprising developments. Considering there is plenty of time between this story and the arrival of Taylor, anything is possible and the writing duo does not allow the readers to forget that.
While this “Planet of the Apes” book is the one most likely to connect to the common consciousness or public perception of the concept of a world ruled by apes, it falls short of being memorable. It’s decent and entertaining, but by this time next week I would be hard pressed to distinctly recall anything that happened in this issue with any specific detail. I enjoy the Planet of the Apes brand and like the concept of telling early tales of the adventures of Zaius and the lot from the feature films, but given a choice, I’d like to see Hardman step in to the art chores.