Eric's Boom! Studios Comic Reviews: PLANET OF THE APES #6
Published: September 25, 2011 - 2:28pm
A series as strong as BOOM!'s Planet of the Apes would have to hit some speed bumps at some point, right? Not this week! Darryl Gregory writes an Iraq War parallel without being preachy, but resonates all the same. It's wonderfully written and doesn't look half bad either.
Boom! Studios' Planet of the Apes has been a great series thus far and the present issue just got real (literally). In an attempt to overthrow the tyrannical simians, the humans must put together an insurgency that is maneuverable and effective, which prioritizes important targets for tactical efficiency. Also, RPG's (the explosive kind) are introduced as a weapon of choice (by religious leaders mind you), knowledge of terrain is used to the advantage to human forces, and there is a prisoner or war camp featured that is giving harsh treatment to its unwilling tenants. Yes, only a few pages in and I was given flashbacks of my first Chinook ride into North Iraq from Kuwait and of salty sweat stains on body armor. While parallels are drawn to that ill-received war, Daryl Gregory does an excellent job to avoid making the mistake of sanctimonious political demagoguery. Things can be read into this comic (which, in turn, makes it relevant and resonant), but the writer keeps the reader glued to his story rather than nodding and winking at a clever message.
The art of this is in the way each side is portrayed. While it's natural for the reader to align themselves with the homo sapiens, the apes aren't exactly villains either. Although they do cruel things to their captives along with other questionable acts, it all finds its place in the name of war. That's not used to justify anything, but to provide context and understanding. In the same way, the humans have a ruthlessness to their methods, which defies justification just as much. War breeds both heroes and murderers (which may be synonymous depending on what side a person is on). It's that balance and ambiguity between the two that make Planet of the Apes #6 (and the series as a whole) a great read. It's a book that's strong enough to both tell its story with conviction and allow readers to come up with an interpretation all their own. One thing that is not of contention, however, is the quality that is poured into this issue. Almost everything is done at proficiency and above that any minor squabbles with the writing would be silly to bring up.
Carlos Magno does an almost perfect job with his art for this book. The dynamic designs go from huge battles to emotional close-ups in a way that seems effortless. There is a separation between the warfare and personal lives of the soldiers that tells much of the story without words. This is the job of comic art and it is done well. It looks damn good and it's giving the nuance of the plot. It's more than pretty pictures to browse and/or get in the way of the text. Each panel has the meaning it needs. The only minor qualm, again, is with Darrin Moore's colors. One can understand what he is attempting by showing a type of gritty and dirty warfare, but just a tiny bit more dynamic/brighter palette would do a world of good in distinguishing the characters from the background. This isn't saying that it should go Kirby-era primary colors, just the smallest bit more brightness would make the action truly come off the page. It's still serviceable, but the potential for better is there.
Story: Darryl Gregory
Art: Carlos Magno & Darrin Moore
Cover: Carlos Magno
32 pages/ FC
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