Review: Planet of the Apes: Ursus #2

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
February 12th, 2018

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: Planet of the Apes: Ursus #2
Comics
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Price:
Unique yet familiar

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On February 12, 2018
Last modified:February 12, 2018

Summary:

A comic for the fans of the movies. It is a beautifully illustrated dissection of one of the smaller characters from the Apes movie franchise.

Price:
Unique yet familiar

Reviewed by:
Rating:

4
On February 12, 2018
Last modified:February 12, 2018

Summary:

A comic for the fans of the movies. It is a beautifully illustrated dissection of one of the smaller characters from the Apes movie franchise.

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As February marks the 50th year since the release of the original Planet of the Apes movie, Boom! Studios began their celebrations with Ursus, a comic dedicated to a villain from the Ape movies. Being a fan of comics and the Ape franchise our contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a look at the new offering to see how it compares to previous incarnations.

Ursus is a retelling of the Planet of the Apes movies from the Gorilla villain. But it is also much more; it goes behind the scenes depicted in the film to explore the workings of Ape City; it pits Gorilla against Orangutan to enhance the narrative of the movies, and it delves into the past to establish the world that Taylor and his companions find themselves in.

General Ursus is more than a pantomime villain, and this comic helps to prove that. Already by the end of issue, 2 Ursus is becoming a tragic figure, a broken product of his hateful upbringing and a desperate gorilla trying to cling on to something he can understand. He is a character to hate but also, by understanding, he deserves your empathy.

Credit: Boom! Studios

Boom!

Synopsis

General Ursus and Doctor Zaius are old friends, but their friendship is strained when they are faced with a talking Human: John Landon.

The confrontation between Gorilla and Orangutan awaken memories of Ursus’ past, of his 'father' and the violence instilled in him.

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The need to protect the city is forefront in both the Gorilla and the Orangutan's minds, but their actions couldn’t be more different. Ursus the solider and Zaius the politician and protector of the Faith set off in different directions which will lead them both ultimately to the same place: Beneath the Planet of The Apes.

credit: Boom! Studios

Boom!

Analysis

There are two distinct artistic styles in this comic, one for Ursus’ past and one for the present. Chris Mooneyham manages to balance the two wonderfully, making it easy to tell when the story is the past or the present but at the same time creating the characters within recognizable in both periods.

The ‘past’ element of the story has a Chinese history scroll effect to it which gives it a sense of age and one of culture. The Apes record everything on scrolls, in fact, they live by the Ancient Scroll’s teachings, so to present Ursus’ life in this way gives his life weight, as if he is destined to play a part in history.

The ‘present’ is more realistic with depth and definition. It also resembles the style of the original movies, almost as if these are deleted scenes on a Special Edition DVD release. The narrative elements weave in and out of the movie’s story producing linking aspects to pivotal scenes. The fate of John Landon, barely featured in the movie once the Apes are introduced, is depicted here with Ursus and Zaius as instruments of the man’s destiny.

This makes the narrative engaging for fans of the franchise, which this comic is cleared aimed at. Hints and nods to aspects of Ape lore are littered throughout the pages, but writer David F. Walker is not just paying lip service to the fans. He has crafted an elegant tale of a dominant gorilla’s downward spiral. It’s almost Shakespearian in tone and theme; Ursus is undone by the distrusting nature instilled in him from birth. Walker takes time to show how Ursus was corrupted by those close to him while at the same time a heavyweight of destiny is placed upon him. In the opening pages, the reader is shown how Ursus is told that he was born to kill Humans and what follows becomes more understandable. The reader is forced to feel empathy for the gorilla not matter what we think of his actions.

Credit: Boom! Studios

Boom!

Between them Mooneyham and, colorist, Jason Wordie depict two worlds in turmoil, and the contrasting styles help to compare the two narratives. The plight of the young Ape in the first storyline is reflected in the confusion he encounters in the second. The creators use these two storylines to enhance each other and create a fuller picture of Ursus’ life. In this issue alone the reader learns so much about the titular character and the world he inhabits. First and foremost, this comic is a portrait of a single character; everything else is secondary.

Boom! Studios have plans for their Apes comics this year, some of those have already been announced, and Ursus is an excellent start to the celebrations of a much-loved franchise. It drowns in the history of the movies but also expands on it. It’s a perfect example of how to retell a famous story without just re-treading the same old ground. So much of the content is new and is told uniquely, that you forget the story is a backdrop to one of the most famous Sci-fi movies of all time. You’ll want to get your hands on this damn, dirty comic.

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson, but he does remember to write more about comics on his website comiccutdown.com

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Planet of the Apes: Ursus #2

  • 4

Unique yet familiar

A comic for the fans of the movies. It is a beautifully illustrated dissection of one of the smaller characters from the Apes movie franchise.

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