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Planet of the Apes #1
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Planet of the Apes’ #1 delivers a slow-burn slice of science fiction

A compelling story, eye-catching visuals, and a clear appreciation for the source material.

The Planet of the Apes franchise is one of the longest running film franchises in history, and with that history comes a barrel of ups and downs. We went from the classic Charlton Heston adventure to the baffling Tim Burton reboot…and then to another reboot series, which Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves added plenty of gravitas to. That legacy also extends to comics, with a new Planet of the Apes series launching under Marvel Comics.

Planet of the Apes #1 takes place in the years following Rise of the Planet of the Apes, as humanity deals with the aptly-named “Simian Flu” decimating their numbers. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a growing number of intelligent apes find themselves at war with humankind. A new terrorist group dubbing itself the “Army of Man” has risen up, ready to “take back the world”…and they’re willing to kill anyone, human or ape, who stands in their way.

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Writer David F. Walker grabs the reader’s attention from the get go with a chilling sequence in which an ape is being experimented on; from that one act of cruelty, he jumps back and forth in time to show the degradation of society. Walker’s work has always been a standout, whether it’s the critically acclaimed Bitter Root or the criminally underappreciated Nighthawk, and Planet of the Apes #1 is no different. The best science fiction often holds up a mirror to current events, and with a story that features a global pandemic and violently armed lunatics looking to impose their will on the world, Walker has done an excellent job in that regard.

Artist Dave Wachter brings Walker’s script to life, taking the chance to depict several different species of apes throughout the issue. His standout work comes from two different splash pages – the first recreates the Golden Gate Bridge attack from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, while the former finds a group of apes attacking the Army of Men. Both present a frightening picture of the apes leaping out at the reader, teeth bared in rage, but it’s the second moment that caught my attention. Namely because one of the apes has ripped up a rusted stop sign and is using it as a battle axe. That’s a moment that should be ridiculous, but because of Wachter’s art comes across as utterly horrifying.

Rounding out the artistic team is Bryan Valenza on colors and Joe Caramagna on letters. Valenza’s colors wax and wane with the setting; in 2011, when the series kicks off, things are bright and sunny. By 2013, a dark blanket of snow covers Switzerland, and a flashback in Florida is beset with fiery red smoke – a harbinger of the chaos to come. Caramagna utilizes a new form of lettering to depict the apes’ sign language, placing it inside of yellow blocks that are punctuated with a break in every word. Not only is this a creative way to deal with the absence of speech, but it also gives the apes their own unique form of speech while separating them further from humanity.

Planet of the Apes #1 is how every good science fiction comic should start out: a compelling story, eye-catching visuals, and a clear appreciation for the source material. It also continues to follow in the Predator and Alien comics’ footsteps of taking bold new steps with licensed material.

Planet of the Apes #1
‘Planet of the Apes’ #1 delivers a slow-burn slice of science fiction
Planet of the Apes #1
Planet of the Apes #1 is how every good science fiction comic should start out: a compelling story, eye-catching visuals, and a clear appreciation for the source material. It also continues to follow in the Predator and Alien comics' footsteps of taking bold new steps with licensed material.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.9
A compelling story that draws parallels to modern events, like any good sci-fi story should.
Wachter's art makes the apes look absolutely terrifying.
Lettering gives the apes their own unique form of speaking.
A clear appreciation for the films – especially the reboot series – is on display.
9
Great
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