Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.
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Boom Studios! and DC Comics team up for the release of The Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern crossover event starting this week. Combining elements of both franchises, the history altering story will unfurl over the next six months and our contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a look at issue 1.
Review: Planet Of The Apes/Green Lantern #1
Before I start I want to make something clear. I love Planet of the Apes and have bought pretty much every tie-in comic that has been released since the early 90’s. Some have been outstanding; some have been entertaining; others have been dire but I have a soft spot for anything Planet of the Apes.
I’ve never read a Green Lantern comic. My knowledge of the Green Lantern corps comes from event stories in the DC Universe or the New 52 Supergirl crossover with the Red Lanterns. I saw the film but everybody is in agreement that that doesn’t count.
This may explain why I have so little understanding about half of this comic while an annoyingly in-depth knowledge of the other half.
The Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern Review
In the depths of space a mysterious, hooded character is draining energy from a collection of alien beings. A resultant energy blast sends a golden ring towards a distant planet which turns out to be (not really a spoiler) The Planet of the Apes.
After months of searching Cornelius (Chimpanzee; main character from original movie) finally finds Nova believing this will lead him to Taylor (Charlton Heston’s character from the original movie; human). But this momentous meeting happens at the crater caused by the falling Lantern Ring. Cornelius’ scientific interest leads him to collect the ring but lose Nova. He heads home obsessed by the ring.
Meanwhile; it’s all kicking off between the Red and Green lanterns. No-one seems to know why but it doesn’t matter, the Green Lantern characters are being introduced and the main point of this sequence comes with the reveal of the mysterious, hooded character: Sinestro!
The fight is taken to Earth and the DC characters are thrown through a time displacement. Back on the Planet of the Apes Cornelius has put on the ring and transformed into an Orange Lantern (Gold Lantern? Obviously I need to read some Green Lantern comics). He wanders dazed and confused until he meets the Children of the Bomb where things really start to heat up.
First impression from an initial read through is that this comic is a lot of fun. It’s packed with adventure and action with an almost fair share of page space for each franchise.
The first half of the comic is used to introduce the characters who are taking the central roles in this crossover. Each is introduced in a way befitting the original concepts of the characters with Cornelius being an inquisitive scientist and the Green Lanterns as a heroic, intergalactic team. The only problem is this characterisation is superficial unless you recognise the characters in first place. If you have no idea who Nova or Hal Jordan is then you’ll find their introduction underwhelming and potentially confusing.
If, like me, you’re only familiar with one of the franchises then you may be left in the dark regarding some of the narrative. For example, the villain reveal is dealt with in a monumental way with the emphasis clearly on the ‘shock reveal’ aspect of the moment. Unfortunately, I haven’t the faintest idea who or what Sinestro is therefore the build-up and cloak removal falls flatly. The same experience can be said about the Planet of the Apes aspects; why doesn’t Nova speak? What are the Children of the Bomb all about? What’s that bit with the Statue of Liberty all about? Although if you don’t get that last reference then I’m assuming that you’ve never heard of Planet of the Apes.
Other than this, to be fair, usual problem with franchise crossover stories the narrative is very inclusive and moves along at an entertaining pace. There are hardly any points where it feels like two separately established worlds being forced into one, awkward story. And, unlike the previous Planet of the Apes/Star Trek miniseries, the Apes and Lanterns both have significant parts to play, one isn’t there just to prop up the other.
Robbie Thompson’s story is a magnificent sci-fi adventure littered with references and nods to the expanded franchises but it doesn’t get lost in trying to accommodate decades of history. Add to this Justin Jordan’s enjoyable script and you have a comic that will keep you reading to the very last page. Jordan makes a distinction between the characters and gives each their own individual voice.
Barnaby Bagenda is a talented artist who isn’t afraid to draw over the gutters and attempt to bring the action off the page. He also has an extraordinary flair for layout composition; manoeuvring the reader around some complex pages with ease. The transitions from panel to panel are outstanding. Just look at the moment when Green Lantern and Sinestro dive into the ocean in the first two panels of the page and Hal Jordan reverts to his civvies to pull himself onto the beach before the remains of the Statue of Liberty. A beautiful sequence all to pay homage to the ending of the original movie.
The only criticism that can be made about Bagenda’s art comes is in the depiction of some of the more recognisable characters. His style is too harsh on the chimpanzee characters and gives them a much more aggressive tone. Luckily the actual characteristics for these don’t reflect the artwork.
Alex Guimaraes’ colors are the shining light of this comic as they set the scene and distinguish the worlds of each franchise. There is a definite tonal difference to the Apes and the Lanterns which helps each element of the narrative to flow independently of each other.
Overall Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern is an enjoyable story and a successful crossover. It is much better than some of the previous PotA mash ups and should keep anyone who picks it up interested.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to pick up some Green Lantern comics.
Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he might use his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson