Tag Archives: Richard Starkings

Words and Pictures: Planet of the Apes and Elephantmen

Two comics based on an identical science fictional trope: humanoid animals walking, talking and fighting. Both pretty good, but doing radically different things with that basic idea.

Planet of the Apes, Vol 1: The Long War

written by Daryl Gregory, art by Carlos Magno, published by Boom! Studios

This new ongoing series is written by the (rather talented) speculative fiction author Daryl Gregory and drawn by Carlos Magno. I figured it might be worth a try, the whole apes-as-overlords thing being one of the most fun ideas in science fiction. Honestly, if you don’t get a little buzz out of gorillas riding horses and brandishing guns as they herd humans around … well, I don’t know if I can help you.

The story’s set 1300 years before Charlton Heston’s unscheduled arrival in the 1968 movie. Ape society is at its steampunky zenith, with humans making up a somewhat rebellious underclass. Things turn ugly when the Lawgiver, an ape champion of species equality, is mown down by a human assassin wielding lost ancient technology (specifically, a machine gun).

What follows is an entertaining, if not yet especially surprising, yarn as ape and human authorities hunt the assassin and the simmering pot of ape-human relations boils over. (Actually, one surprising thing, which you rarely see in any kind of fiction: the leading female human protagonist is heavily pregnant. Intriguing.)

The mystery of the assassin’s identity won’t puzzle readers for long, but it’s not really supposed to. This is less of a ‘Whodunnit?’ and more of a ‘Let’s get this revolution started!’ thing. It’s traditional, straightforward comics story-telling; a long form linear narrative, adeptly paced and splendidly illustrated (some gorgeous ape imagery here). Early days, but there’s enough potential to persuade me back for at least one more volume, to see how things develop.

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