It’s Apes against Apes against humans in this bleak and violent spin-off of the popular Planet of the Apes series from the 60s and 70s. Set roughly 10 years after events covered in Battle for the Planet of the Apes – the fifth and final part of the original series of films – and some thirteen hundred years before the first Planet of the Apes movie (bear with me) this story fits seamlessly into the Apes mythology without covering material that’s too familiar from the movies.
In a franchise rife with the effects of time dilation, time travel and all the insane paradoxes suggested by those concepts, Planet of the Apes Vol. 5 refers back (or forward?) to characters and ideas across the whole series. So, while the story follows events shortly after the demise of The Lawgiver (the narrator ape played by John Huston in Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ bookend story) there’s also an early iteration of the weird nuke worshipping cult of bald psychics from Beneath the Planet of the Apes who become embroiled in this tale of civil war and power struggles. Daryl Gregory cannily uses the mythology of Planet of the Apes as a solid base to build a solid story upon rather than as a template for its construction.
The artwork similarly draws upon the films as inspiration without slavishly transposing classic imagery from the movies into the book. Costumes and locations are consistent with their look in the later films and there’s a strong sense of design at work. Post-apocalyptic, Ape-ruled Earth looks lived in and fully realised, and each panel is bursting with little background details that really flesh things out. Battles sequences are suitably brutal and dynamic and there are some lovely splash pages of Apes killing Apes, breaking the prime law of their simian society. Also, the apes look great, they’re well designed and easy to tell apart from one another (not as easy as it might sound) and Barreto throws in a load of different species and tribes of Apes to keep things interesting.
Smartly constructed and lovely to look at, fans of the Apes series would be well advised to get their stinking paws on this damn fine book.
The writer of this piece was: Joe Morrison
Joe is Freelance film journalist based in Glasgow.
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