Review – Planet Of The Apes: The Simian Age #1 (BOOM! Studios)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Matt Kindt, Jeff Jensen, Ryan Ferrier
Artist: Matt Smith, Jared Cullum, Lalit Kumar Sharma
Colorists: Joana Lafuente, Gabriel Cassata
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 12th December 2018
BOOM! has always shown a great deal of affection for The Planet Of The Apes, and this oversized issue collects three stories celebrating 50 years of the franchise’s involvement with 20th Century Fox.
Whilst the three stories in this issue are very different and are set during different stages of the timeline, they all share the same central theme – the personal cost that inevitably comes from trying to do the right thing in the face of oppression and hate.
Jeff Jensen’s MOTHER OF EXILES was, for me, the best of the three stories on offer in this issue. Set just after the events of the first film we are introduced to Amy, a lonely, scared and scarred soul in a self-imposed exile, shunning her mate and the world that Apes have created, making her home in the remains of The Statue of Liberty. Amy’s story is one of pain, fear, regret and – most importantly at the end – of hope. This is a relatively short story being only twelve pages and it’s very hard to avoid spoilers, so I’ll just say that the emotional impact of Jensen’s tale is far and away the hardest hitting in this book and the one I was most invested in. Jared Cullum’s use of watercolours is also hauntingly beautiful, and he captures the mood of Jensen’s narrative perfectly.
APEX begins as a familiar tale of a soldier recounting his training and first deployment. Apex has learned to be a good soldier, to obey orders without thinking, but on his first tour his squad engages a camp of humans and he realises that the Golden Tenant “Ape Shall Not Kill Ape” isn’t enough. Despite some solid writing from Matt Kindt and Matt Smith providing a decent effort on the artwork, this story had the least impact of the three for me. It’s a good premise but I felt that the story was too superficial, and Apex’s reasoning and reaction was vastly out of proportion with the experience he had. If you’re going to discuss the horrors of war you really need to immerse yourself in the actuality of it and not just skim over the top.
The final story in this issue, CLOUD AND RAIN is set during the war against humans while Caesar, Koba, Maurice and Rocket are still paving a way to a better world for the Apes. I really enjoyed this story, and as much as it is about the namesakes of the story, two friends Cloud and Rain, it is also the story of Koba struggling to reconcile his hatred of humanity with Caesar’s hopes for the future. Much Like Koba himself, this is a brutal story and doesn’t pull its punches. Koba only wants one thing and that is freedom from the humans. However, his solution is very different to Caesars’, and he seeks to kill all humans and claim Earth for all Apekind. When the inadvertent actions of Cloud and Rain threaten Koba’s vision, his reaction is instinctive, swift, and brutal.
I liked Rain and Cloud as characters, there’s a simple honesty and naiveté in them that blinds them somewhat to the harsher realities of life. I’ve always felt that Koba kind of had a point though, the only way the Apes will ever have a world free from the threat of humans is to eradicate us. Too many times the plucky band of survivors rallies to mess it up royally for the conquerors and whilst Caesar’s path of compassion and diplomacy may seem the honourable route, deep down I think we all know that Koba’s path is the only one that will lead to peace. Whilst this story takes up twice as many pages as the other two in this issue, I didn’t feel that the plot was laboured as Ryan Ferrier does a respectable job of engaging us from start to finish. I thought Lalit Kumar Sharma’s artwork and Gabriel Cassata’s colours really brought this story together with drama and emotion on every page.
Overall, if you’re a fan of The Planet Of The Apes, you’ll enjoy this. It’s a good addition to the existing worlds within the franchise. If you’ve never picked up a POTA comic then I’d recommend picking this up, as hopefully it’ll encourage you to delve deeper into at least one of the timelines featured in this issue.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek
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