BETRAYAL OF THE PLANET OF THE APES #2 of 4 (BOOM!) Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman, writers. Gabriel Hardman, art. Jordie Bellaire, colorist. Ed Dukeshire, letterer.
“20 years before a man named Taylor fell from the stars . . . . . Ape society is in flux. The rigid cast system is breaking down. Humans can’t speak and are considered animals, but are tolerated in the city. Scientific curiosity is smashing old taboos. . . .
But not everyone is happy with the new status quo. Some would even break the Lawgiver’s most sacred commandment, Ape Does Not Kill Ape, to halt the march of progress . . . . . “
I almost passed on Issue #1, a little wary that this might just be a quick effort to cash in on the popularity of the monthly PLANET OF THE APES series from BOOM! - - meaning that it might not have as much substance and possibly sub-standard art. I’m happy to admit that none of those concerns are warranted here. This is really good and, while different from the monthly book, it is equal in every measure. It’s premium quality that will not let you down and has the same effect – you can see parallels to our current society and the problems of modern times.
Issue #2 of BETRAYAL OF THE PLANET OF THE APES details events surrounding the trial of General Alera for the suspected murder of Lieutenant Varus, a killing that occurred 15 years prior for which no alleged evidence existed until now. The interrogation is compelling, as is the dialogue (always raising questions) throughout the entire issue. Just as PLANET OF THE APES is further enhanced by some fantastic art, the work of Gabriel Hardman deserves just as much recognition and attention. His is a more photo-realistic style and it’s very creative and lovely to view. I especially enjoyed the scenes detailing Alera’s escape and pursuit. The scenery is gorgeous, and the view of the Alcatraz-like prison island is wonderfully depicted.
THE RINSE #4 of 4 (BOOM!) Gary Phillips, writer. Marc Laming, art. Darren Moore, colors. Steve Wand, letters. Paul Azaceta, cover.
“You deal in millions but you don’t give a damn about money. That’s why you’re so hard to catch.” . . . Detective Della Dash
All the loose ends get tied up in a fast-paced and satisfying way in Issue #4 of THE RINSE, making me ready to endorse a sequel. I would love to read another story about Sinclair, the “rinser” of dirty money. It was harder to like the character in Issue #1 where he was introduced as a confident, smug know-it-all. But there was still something about him that was appealing enough to make me want to come back for more issues. Sure enough, as the character became more fully developed there were more traits to admire - - - his concern for the welfare of others and his charitable, giving, and helping nature.
Sinclair was being pursued by both the law and the mob and eluded them both. The “25 million dollar trail was wiped clean.” Along the way there is a shoot-out and a car chase that deserves honorable mention in the Crime Comics Hall Of Fame. Even if you haven’t read the previous issues, this is worth picking up for everything that happens in the big Issue #4 wrap-up.
Also, just like last issue, Paul Azaceta’s cover is possibly my favorite of the month!
VALEN THE OUTCAST #1 (BOOM!) $1.00 introductory issue. Michael Alan Nelson, writer. Matteo Scalera, art. Archie Van Buren, colors. Ed Dukeshire, letters. Covers by Liam Sharp, Chad Hardin, Cary Nord, Ale Garza (2), Trevor Hairsine (2), Chad Hardin, and Joe Jusko. Valen The Outcast created by Ross Ritchie.
If this is not a payroll week for you, and you have less than you’d like to spend on comics - - at least spend just one dollar of it here. There is a lot of entertainment and value for your money.
We may be entering a revival of barbarian / sword & sorcery stories. I’m perfectly fine with that, since everything I’ve seen so far has been high quality and offers some variations on the standard formulas. The difference here in VALEN THE OUTCAST is that the main character is undead, unwanted, and shunned as an abomination everywhere he used to be recognized, accepted, and worshipped.
Lord Valen Brand, King of Oakhaven has seen his troops decimated by the driven hordes of Korris Null, his “dead children” who blindly abide by his commands and directions. Finally surrounded, he sacrifices himself so that the one remaining solider/loyalist can survive and escape. Now a member of the undead, he can’t be killed “unless you pierce his heart or sever the head”.
He does manage to steal away from his servitude, and with the aide of Zjanna, a conjurer/warrior woman, she severs his leash and brands him with a concealing tattoo to evade the necromancer. His new determination is to make his way inside the kingdom of Wraithendal and steal his soul back.
There’s lot of swordplay and blood, as you might expect. The backgrounds are appropriately dark and gloomy, enhanced by occasional splashes of color. It’s a great book to look at.
After all, would CONAN THE BARBARIAN have enjoyed the popularity it did back in the 1970’s if it was illustrated by average artists rather than Barry Windsor Smith, John Buscema and many others? The art in sword and sorcery books has to grab your attention, and it does here. Artist Matteo Scalera has a very interesting style that playfully dances around the edges of manga/anime.
In fact, if a barbarian book doesn’t have enough eye appeal on its cover, it probably won’t even get picked up. No chance of that happening here - - as the cover art is gorgeous and there are 8 versions of equally outstanding work. Too hard to name an absolute favorite, so I won’t.
MORE BOOKS WORTH A LOOK THIS WEEK: ACTION COMICS #4, ANIMAL MAN #4, CRIMINAL VOL. 6: LAST OF THE INNOCENT TPB, DEADPOOL MAX XMAS SPECIAL, ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #6, H P LOVECRAFT: THE DUNWICH HORROR #3 OF 4, HELLRAISER #8, MEN OF WAR #4, MORIARITY #7, STARBORN VOLUME 2 TPB, STORMWATCH #4, STRANGE TALENT OF LUTHER STRODE #3, SWAMP THING #4.