Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PREVIEWS: What’s new in TPB for Wednesday 8/31/2011?

I wanted to keep this review separate from the preview of new August 31 books I wrote about yesterday. It deserves a treatment all it’s own.  I missed the new series when it debuted, but I did check out the first trade paperback and  - -Wow!  Keep reading . . . . . . . . . .

PLANET OF THE APES VOLUME 1  (BOOM! Studios)  Specially priced $9.99 introduction to the first four issues of the new series.  Daryl Gregory, writer.  Carlos Magno, artist.  Juan Manuel Tumburus, colorist Chapter 1.  Nolan Woodard, colorist Chapter 2-4.  Travis Lanham, letterer.

Finally!  - - - A reason for me to get excited again about PLANET OF THE APES !!

I go way back with this material.  I read the original novel (which preceded everything else) way back when I was in middle school and discovering many science-fiction masterpieces courtesy of my school library.  The novel floored me, and I was even more delighted with the film version (the famous one with Charlton Heston).  Then came some disappointing paperback novels, and far too many movie sequels none of which came even close to the quality of the original.  Marvel did a black and white magazine that didn’t thrill me.  Even the Dark Horse comics seemed to lack any punch or energy.  Tim Burton’s remake took advantage of the advances in movie special effects and made me a little excited again - - but the movie dragged and failed to make its points effectively  - - not emotional enough when it needed to be.  I haven’t seen THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (which did very well and garnered many favorable reviews) because I was afraid of being disappointed again.  And now . . . . . . . . . .

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The only commonality between BOOM! Studios’ version of PLANET OF THE APES and those other sources is the setting and the basic premise - - - a future Earth where intelligent simians and humans share space.  In fact, this comics version goes way back  - - long before the events of the original PLANET OF THE APES novel and subsequent first film.  Long ago The Lawgiver, the ruling orangutan, (a la Abraham Lincoln)  freed the humans from servitude and created a society where apes and humans peacefully co-exist.  But not on common footing, as close examination of the community reveals a separate residential neighborhood  (South Town, referred to by apes as “Skin Town) across the river from the Industrial Zone and situated far away from the gardens of the City Tree, the Lawgiver’s Estate and the Western Suburbs.  Human are permitted to make a living in their own community or to cross the river where they can labor in the factories.  Nevertheless, the society works despite some deep-seated bad feelings among the elders of both races - - and human and ape children are schooled together, not separately.  It may sound like the author is creating some deliberate symbols here, but after reading this all the way through I believe it’s unintentional.  BOOM!’s PLANET OF THE APES is a simply a great story that is told very well, and readers are going to see many similarities between this and events from history, both current and past.  (Civil War, segregation, racism, Israeli-Palestine conflicts, terrorism, suicide bombers, crazy religions, warmongers, pacifists, Republicans versus Democrats,class distinctions, rich versus poor, etc.) 

The story opens up with the murder of The Lawgiver, a deliberate and public assassination by a human disguised in black ninja gear.  A squad of gorillas is recruited, led by a former war criminal, to comb every inch of South Town and find the murderer.  There is much debate in South Town about how to resist this and the pregnant mayor Sullivan, a former pupil of The Lawgiver and classmate of Queen Alaya of the apes, wants to keep the citizens pacified while still conducting their own search to uncover the assassin.

The art team is just incredible.  I’m unfamiliar with the work of Carlos Magno, but he’s got me paying attention now!   I thought the best art I could find this week would be in the pages of the new JUSTICE LEAGUE but Magno can stand on equal ground with Jim Lee.  This is gorgeous work that you must examine for yourself. 

PLANET OF THE APES may be the best prelude or prequel to a film property that I have enjoyed in any format.  Well worth your time and investment.  Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

PLANET OF THE APES #5  (BOOM! Studios special priced $1.00 issue) Daryl Gregory, writer. Carlos Magno, artist. Nolan Woodard, colorist.  Travis Lanham, letterer.

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The first story arc ended with a martyr’s actions, a suicide explosion for a cause, that triggered a new war between apes and humans.  Issue #5 picks up the second story arc and deals with how each side prepares and then engages.  At these special prices - - - for a $11 investment you get the content of 5 comic books that you may want to read several times in order to get all the content and value from them.  That’s approximately $2.20 per issue and quite the bargain.

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As unrest builds, the city of Mak finds it difficult to keep the factories running without human labor and some circles in government even discuss offering humans some seats in the governing council to bring about cooperation.  A separate faction in South Town, all born as mutes and inspired by the recent suicide act, offer themselves as martyrs in order to get their city back.  As crowds gather in the streets, the apes dispel the curfew violators with weapons fire from blimps hovering above.   Both sides discuss arming themselves further with heavier weapons – and some from very unlikely sources.  Tensions are mounting and rising to a breaking point. 

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