Friday, September 2, 2011

Planet of the Apes #1-5

Written by Daryl Gregory
Art by Carlos Magno

Well, now this was a nice surprise.  I've been a fan of the Planet of the Apes since I was in grade 10, when City TV began broadcasting all five of the original movies at 1:00 each afternoon, and I ended up missing a week's worth of classes, choosing to stay home and indulge (ads and all).  That was the same year that Adventure Comics began their run with the property, with a black and white series drawn by the great Kent Burles.  I stayed a fan until the Tim Burton version of the movie ruined the franchise for me.  I haven't made plans to see the film currently in the theatres.

I was mildly interested in Boom's new take on the Apes, but am really trying to cut back on buying too many titles, especially if they are priced at $4.  I grabbed the first four issues at Fan Expo last week though, and this week's $1 fifth issue, and am very impressed and pleased with what I've found.

This series is set during the days of the Lawgiver, some 1200 years before the events of the Charlton Heston film.  Humans and Apes are living together, but separately, in relative peace and mutual distrust.  When the Lawgiver is assassinated by a human with an automatic rifle in the first issue, that peace looks to be shattered forever.  As it turns out, both ape and human populations are controlled (loosely) by the Lawgiver's adopted granddaughters - one human, one a chimp.

Each leader begins their own investigation, and they discover the depth of anti-ape sentiment in Skintown, the human township.  Alaya, the Council Voice frees an older general, imprisoned for anti-human war crimes, to track down the assassin, and he blockades the human settlement.  Meanwhile, Sullivan, the Skintown 'mayor' learns more about the dissent among her own people, including the 'silents', the younger generation who are loosing the ability to speak.

This story works very well because it channels any number of familiar political situations.  There are elements of Jim Crow America and apartheid-era South Africa, but what this comic made me think of the most is the Israel/Palestine conflict, played out in allegorical form.  Once I started reading this book in intifada terms, the appearance of suicide bombers made perfect sense.

Daryl Gregory is not a writer I'm familiar with, but I do appreciate the depth of thought and planning he's put into this title.  Carlos Magno is pretty interesting here.  The last I saw of him, he was drawing DC's horrendous Countdown series, but this book looks nothing like that.  Here, his work is highly detailed and quite believable.  I'm afraid that Boom may have just gotten me to add another comic to my pull-list.  I think this may be replacing Farscape as my one licensed title.

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