Review: War For The Planet Of The Apes #1

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
July 13th, 2017

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.

Review: War For The Planet Of The Apes #1
Comics
0
Price:
Exceptional

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On July 13, 2017
Last modified:July 13, 2017

Summary:

A brilliant start to a bridging story between two Ape movies. It is a standout comic as part of a franchise but also as a narrative all by itself. Get it now before War comes to the Planet.

Price:
Exceptional

Reviewed by:
Rating:

5
On July 13, 2017
Last modified:July 13, 2017

Summary:

A brilliant start to a bridging story between two Ape movies. It is a standout comic as part of a franchise but also as a narrative all by itself. Get it now before War comes to the Planet.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Continuing a long line of movie tie in comics, Boom Studios! release a new Planet of Apes comic just in time for the theatrical release of War for the Planet of the Apes. Our contributor and Planet of the Apes fan, Darryll Robson, takes a look at the first issue of the new miniseries.

War for the Planet of the Apes #1

War is marauding its way through cinemas as you read this and collecting some of the best reviews for not only the Planet of the Apes movies but 2017 movies in general. I have read that it is the best Apes movie ever, which is a bold claim.

The last comic book tie in, for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, was an intriguing comic hampered slightly by the limitations set by the storyline. The central Ape and Human characters were also central to the movie plot and therefore couldn’t interact in any outstanding way. Similar issues were experienced by the early Marvel Star Wars comics where the most popular characters had to be kept a part in order to maintain the movie narrative. However, the Dawn of the POTA comic still proved to be a worthwhile read and addition to the ever expanding franchise. Does the ‘War’ tie in have such problems or has it been able to find its own space in the POTA universe?

Credit Boom Studios!

Synopsis

After a brief introduction to a group of wandering survivors, the narrative picks up another group of humans on the night of the Ape/Human battle in San Francisco, as depicted in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.   The selection of citizens try to make their way through the rioting Apes until they become trapped. Facing the inevitable, their lives are saved at the last moment by the massive explosion signalling Caesars victory over Koba.

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Caesar prepares his Apes for the coming war while Maurice pleads “There must be a better way”.

In Florida a group of Ape hunters question the extent of the Flu epidemic and the urban myth of rioting Apes but their beliefs are soon put to a bloody test.

And at the Primate Research Centre in Atlanta Dr Burke continues his studies on the Simian virus despite a shortage of Ape specimens.  “There is always something to learn” he says foreshadowing the events of this mini-series in relation to the new movie.

Credit: Boom Studios!

Analysis

The first thing that stands out as you read this first issue in the series is the setting; it’s not located in one small area of the world or focused on one group of protagonists. There is a sense of grandeur to the narrative, an encompassing arc which incorporates elements already familiar to the reader but also a host of new characters and ideas.

There is a fascinating insight into the minds of the human survivors, something which was missing from Dawn of the POTAs. Despite what happened in San Francisco, the rest of America is still trying to deal with the Simian virus and is almost oblivious to the rising Ape nation.  This gives the narrative a new angle to investigate while also allowing the writer, David F. Walker, to tread more familiar ground; that of Human encountering intelligent Ape. It is a technique that works well, expertly blending the familiar and the unknown to create a griping tale.

Walker’s other success in this comic is the script. Each of the characters has such a distinctive voice, which is difficult to achieve at the start of a series, especially with such a varied cast. The humans in each of the cities have different experiences and this is depicted through the levels of fear that they emit. The introduction of the characters is a clever step back from the viciousness of the oncoming war, with each group that is introduced the action gets further away from the Apes. It’s as if Walker is calming the reader down from the hype of the movie and reintroducing them to a world not yet lost to the Humans. For a drama about the destruction of the world as we know it there is a large expression of hope woven into the character arcs.

That’s not to say that the war isn’t coming, that it isn’t there on the horizon. The reader has Caesar and his followers there to remind them but for the most part this comic is about Humans and not Apes. This seems to contrast the movie itself* where the empathy and central narrative is driven by the Apes. It has also been the downfall of some previous Planet of the Apes tie in comics however, not so here. The range of character’s means that there are heroes and villains, and complex in-between characters. Walker creates sympathies towards a number of the survivors and distils the humanity from a race of the brink of extinction.

Credit: Boom Studios!

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Illustrating that demise is Jonas Scharf and he is doing a wonderful job. He creates exceptionally detailed panels that place the action and invoke reactions from the reader. There is a clever use of perspective and point of view that works well in telling Walkers narrative. Focus on particular moments or actions are highlighted via a number of illustrative techniques such as close ups and one point perspectives.

The drawing of the reader’s attention is also helped by the strong color work by Jason Wordie. The sudden change in back ground colour highlights a gasmask while on another page a subtle use of fire light pin points imminent danger. There is a large color palate throughout the comic but the different locations have their own set of hues. San Francisco is dark and violent, with a range of blues and stark reds/oranges. Whereas Atlanta is more muted in tones as it is still waiting for the Ape uprising to arrive.

The artwork is exhilaratingly modern and uses the confines of the comic book medium to its advantages. At the same time there are elements of the original series seeded throughout the pages: nods via clothing designs and settings. The coloring again plays a major part in this especially with the choice of navy blues and yellow ochre.

My only initial gripe with the comic was that Josey’s silent, hoodie wearing friend seemed so obviously an Ape from the opening page. The way that he was drawn and the lengths which Walker takes to cover the child up seemed to be forced and unnecessary. However, on reflection, after reading the entire comic, I’m beginning to think that there may in fact be more to it than simply an Ape being hidden amongst Humans. There is the possibility that this is exactly what Walker wants us to believe and he actually has a clever twist up his sleeve. And, let’s face it, clever twists are what Planet of the Apes is all about. I can’t wait to find out.

A little bit of Ape franchise knowledge is needed to pick this comic up but it is by no means for the uber fan only. The story is intricately designed to raise questions about the world the movies have created and contains enough action to placate the block buster movie fans who may pick this up. It is an intelligent and stunning comic that adds something new to the franchise and doesn’t just piggyback on the movies success.

*At the time of writing I have not seen the movie. Therefore, this may prove to be incorrect. I have based the assumption on the trailers and reviews I have read.

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson

War for the Planet of the Apes #1

  • 5

Exceptional

A brilliant start to a bridging story between two Ape movies. It is a standout comic as part of a franchise but also as a narrative all by itself. Get it now before War comes to the Planet.

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