Planet of the Apes Giant 1 (September 2013)

All you need for a last issue is apparently a sole survivor, a big event and a flash forward in time. Gregory isn’t rewarding his long-time Apes readers with the Giant finale, he’s finishing the story before Boom!’s license runs out. And, for some of the issue, he doesn’t do too bad. That basic quality is why the awful finish is so offending. He’s in a rush, he’s got a lot of characters, he’s got lots of excuses. But the resolution is as poorly conceived as his use of twentieth century sayings from the humans. Why would anyone have preserved them? It’s…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 12 (August 2013)

So did Boom! cancel,Cataclysm, did the writers quit or did the license go away? Something obviously happened. This issue jumps three years ahead of the previous one, then another five years from where it opens. Bechko and Hardman follow Professor Milo (from the second movie) so they can avoid having to have Charlton Heston appear. He gets a mention, but then they focus the issue on what was going on with the spaceship during the second movie. To explain the third, in other words. It seems like the natural last issue for the series, but they seem to have jumped ahead quite…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 11 (July 2013)

Big reveals, small reveals. Along with the biggest of them all–the twelfth issue is the finale, something I didn’t realize. Bechko and Hardman have always have problems with their Apes series because they’re direct–sort of direct–prequels to the first movie and they still haven’t really got everything set up. The ape society is still too… believable. The movie didn’t have a believable thing going on. Bechko and Hardman are moving towards something similar to it, but haven’t gotten close yet. They do resolve the talking human and a lot of the political intrigue, but none of it plays particularly well. They give…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 10 (June 2013)

Maybe killing the talking human is why Cornelius doesn’t remember her when Chuck Heston shows up, but it’s hard to say. But she doesn’t die this issue, just gets her throat slit. Meaning maybe her vocal cords are damaged… which seems like it’s been in an Apes comic somewhere before. The problem with this issue is boredom. Bechko and Hardman don’t have anything exciting going on, no exploration, just politics. Oh, and they bring back some guys from the series before Cataclysm. They just don’t recap it so the whole reveal confuses. Couceiro’s art is still excellent, he just doesn’t have anything…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 9 (May 2013)

I can’t believe I’m going to make this statement–Bechko and Hardman are playing too loose with Apes movie continuity. I don’t even like the movies. But they’ve got a talking human here eight years before Charlton Heston shows up and Cornelius sees and hears her. Kind of changes things up. As an issue, of course, it’s fine enough. The writers don’t give Couceiro much interesting to draw, but he does well with what he’s got. All the mundane story stuff is just because it’s a bridging issue. Let’s see–they set up Zira ready to revolt, Mrs. Zaius with a master plan for…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 8 (April 2013)

The story arc, so far as it involves the ape expedition to the valley–I’m liking Bechko and Hardman not getting locked into actual titled arcs–comes to a close. There are a lot of surprises. One of them is somewhat confusing, as it either should have been clear and wasn’t due to the art or it was never supposed to be clear. I feel like Couceiro could have handled it, so it must be a writing thing. There’s such a thing as being too subtle. But the surprises are otherwise pretty good revelations. The writers know how to pace these things well, which…

Planet of the Apes Spectacular 1 (July 2013)

Decades of Apes licensed comics have shown the wide variety of imaginative things a writer can do with the franchise; Daryl Gregory doesn’t do much imagining. He’s got an ape and a human raised as sisters, he’s got a lot of war intrigue–mix of Dark Ages warfare with aged advanced weapons–but it’s not exactly pushing the limits of science fiction comic books. However, he does what he does do really, really well. I’m not caught up on his Apes series, which involves deals with warlords and petty feuds leading to disaster (and the mutants pretending to be human); he recaps it all…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 7 (March 2013)

It’s funny how the Zaius subplot is actually where Bechko and Hardman have the most problems, even though it’s mostly a talking heads subplot. They’re keeping the Zaius subplot… well, it’s kind of the soil. It feeds into the other two plots and presumably could make major changes for them when they all collide. But it’s separate; the Zira subplot is separate too, but it won’t affect anything. And the writers just can’t make it interesting. Zaius is impotent and too proud to listen to his wife, who actually knows what she’s talking about. One has to wonder who made that decision,…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 6 (February 2013)

As far as expansive mythology goes, Planet of the Apes doesn’t have much. The standards repeat themselves very quickly. But Beckho and Hardman manage to repeat one of those very same standards and hide it all until the final reveal. They raise all sorts of other possibilities–this issue of Cataclysm, almost against itself, has a lot of adventure to it–and then reveal something extremely logical. The writers keep their three way split. Zaius gets his own subplot (having his wife school him is awesome), Zira gets her own and then Cornelius–with Dr. Milo along–gets a third. There’s also Zaius’s son, who figures…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 5 (January 2013)

Bechko and Hardman continue their setup for the first Planet of the Apes movie with… well, I guess it’s kind of a post-disaster story. They’ve introduced all of the primary apes from the first movies, except maybe the nasty gorilla from the second one, and are doing a mundane prequel. There’s action, sure. There’s a giant mutated bear or some such thing. Couceiro illustrates a fantastic action sequence involving it attacking the apes journeying to a different settlement. There’s a lot of content in this issue–the writers band together this team of explorers and introduce their mission in the first two thirds…

Planet of the Apes Special 1 (February 2013)

Calling this issue a Special seems like a little much. It’s over-sized, maybe, but since nothing happens in it and Diego Barreto’s art wouldn’t be able to convey anything well anyhow… it’s hard to know what to call it. It’s somewhat inaccessible for a non-regular Boom! Apes reader too. I am not one, for instance. I was able to follow the story somewhat, but I can’t figure out why writer Daryl Gregory thinks the reader should care. There are three factions battling for power in a city-state–Barreto does an awful job when it comes to giving the city scale–and presumably the human…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 4 (December 2012)

Are you kidding me? The grand reveal is so obvious I had it figured a page into the sequence. Bechko and Hardman–and I know I’ve complimented them on their adherence to Apes movie mythology–try way too hard to bring everything together with Cataclysm. They fail, most obviously, because they leave it with it with a cliffhanger for their next series, but they also fail for the lack of imagination. The point of licensed properties is to expand on the canon. Bechko and Hardman instead wrap it in on itself. They use Cataclysm to tie the first movie to the second and the…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 3 (November 2012)

Boom! needs better editors. Maybe they just didn’t want to piss off Hardman, who’s very high profile even if he is just writing the book, but someone should have–strike that one, needed to–tell he and Bechko not to fake a subplot. The issue opens with the revelation of a great conspiracy. The issue’s big moments all deal with its repercussions and it’s a weak move. Otherwise, the issue isn’t bad. It’s relatively engaging, with the writers’ disaster situations being compelling enough. They do fail Couceiro, however. They don’t give him time to properly establish the setting. The art looks great, but the…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 2 (October 2012)

With Cataclysm‘s second issue, Bechko and Hardman run into a predictable problem. They’re explaining something about a licensed property. In this issue, the reader learns why the ape civilization changes so much in the original Apes movies. So what? They don’t create any memorable characters–even returning cast like Dr. Zaius isn’t used as the protagonist; he’s just part of the disaster movie cast they’ve got going on. Bechko and Hardman take twenty-two pages to do what they could have in four or five. Couceiro’s art is excellent, but having good art doesn’t excuse the wasted pages. He does come up with some…

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 1 (September 2012)

Corrina Bechko and Gabriel Hardman come up with something unexpected here in Cataclysm. Historically, Planet of the Apes comics have one big problem–there’s not enough material from the movies to translate into a serialized narrative. Bechko and Hardman have a neat solution–a disaster. Not just any disaster, but one tying into the movies’ canon. Sort of. One could be picky about it, but I was so impressed with where they go, I can’t imagine one would want to be. Cataclysm is the best kind of licensed property comic. It relies on the source material, relies on the license holder’s comics, and mixes…

Exile on the Planet of the Apes 4 (June 2012)

Bechko and Hardman wrap things up quickly, maybe even getting their Apes series in a place where a sequel might not be pointless. The issue itself concentrates, with the exception of the good chimps ambushing the gorillas with science, on events cursory to the battle scene. There’s the discussion of the leaders, there’s the follow-up to it, but none of the actual battle makes an impression. Maybe because there’s nothing to invest in Exile. The best thing about the comic is its last few pages and only then because they imply that better sequel I mentioned. Laming’s artwork continues to impress, though…

Exile on the Planet of the Apes 3 (May 2012)

Bechko and Hardman have a difficult task this issue. They need to make the humans sympathetic, but the humans’ stupidity gets in the way. The writers fail and basically prove what the bad apes always say–man is an animal. There’s only a little action, at the beginning and the end, but I can’t remember what else goes on. And I just finished reading it. There’s a lot of talking, but it’s all planning. Unless it’s the scenes with totally unnecessary characters. Speaking of characters, it would be nice if Bechko and Hardman bothered writing any. The rebel gorilla is the closest thing…

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (December 1970)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a lame movie, but the comic book adaptation–while it contains the same lame plot, weak Gold Key writing and art–is still a little better. Why? Because the comic is much shorter than the movie’s ninety minute or whatever running time. Artists Alberto Giolitti and Sergio Costa–the script writer is unknown–don’t bring anything to the comic. They can competently draw the apes’ faces (surprisingly so) but they aren’t able to draw the two Earthmen leads similarly. On one hand, it’s unlikely the two men look alike, on the other… the filmmakers casted Charlton Heston’s replacement because…

Exile on the Planet of the Apes 2 (April 2012)

I really like the Laming art a lot. He brings personality to the apes during their conversations, lots of pensive thoughts and so on. He deserves a much better script. Bechko and Hardman continue their boring political history. Exile really does fell like a history lesson, except the Planet of the Apes doesn’t have an interesting history because it’s so small. It’s really the history of one settlement. It’s funny when the writers introduce Milo–who I think is Sal Mineo’s ape who dies three minutes into the third movie–but so what? If they’re setting up the first movie, they’re heading toward an…

Exile on the Planet of the Apes 1 (March 2012)

Exile on the Planet of the Apes has way too much to do with Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s last series, Betrayal on the Planet of the Apes. There’s a little synopsis of the ground situation, post–Betrayal, but it’s not enough. It doesn’t go into all the characters who the reader’s supposed to remember. Marc Laming–not Hardman–does the art this issue. Laming does quite well with the art, actually. He’s able to do the action, he’s able to do the talking heads… however, why does a Planet of the Apes need a bunch of talking heads? The script isn’t bad at all.…

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes 4 (February 2012)

Well, I guess Betrayal does change some things to make the ending more in line with the first movie. All apes can be scientists–doctors–but I don’t think there were any chimp doctors in the first movie. I think they were still stooges to the orangutans. Humans are banned from the city. Those two changes about cover it. Bechko and Hardman establish Zaius as a bad guy at the end, not out of some willful evil but through his embracing of ignorance. Maybe if the comic had been Zaius’s story, how he became corrupt, the ending might have some resonance. But it does…

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes 3 (January 2012)

I wonder if Betrayal got four issues because Hardman agreed to do four issues. There’s not enough story for four issues; there’s probably only enough for two. Bechko and Hardman are introducing all these characters–or, if they’ve introduced them before, they’re now giving them more page time. But there’s still the pointlessness. So what if the good guys are in danger? I don’t even know the female chimp’s name. And the sympathetic Doctor Zaius stuff continues, but without any ties to other stories in the franchise, the character’s presence is far from imperative. For a second, I thought Betrayal might tie a…

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes 2 (December 2011)

The second issue of Betrayal has fantastic Hardman art and still no compelling story. Bechko and Hardman seem to think setting a comic near the original movie is enough, but they’re ignoring the years of Apes comics before this one. While truly original content is off the table, the Ape prison introduced here is a bore. Betrayal isn’t even an exercise in constraint–Hardman’s (great) art opens up the planet from the movie’s confined one. Maybe the one interesting aspect–in terms of continuity and franchise–is evil Dr. Zaius from the first movie being… ahem… humanized. But I think the second movie already did…

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes 1 (November 2011)

It’s almost like a mantra… there are no new Planet of the Apes stories to be told, regardless of title, creator or company. Betrayal is no different. There are pro-human apes, anti-human apes and a conspiracy against either or both. It’s the way Apes comics have always been. Except the art. Gabriel Hardman brings professionalism and talent to Betrayal. It’s the best Apes art in decades, whether it’s Hardman’s take on the apes themselves or the fantastic action sequences. He has this chase sequence and it’s absolutely stunning what he gets done in a page. The implied transitions between panels are sublime.…

Planet of the Apes 4 (July 2011)

Eh. For the first time, Gregory’s Apes is completely “eh.” I never thought of him as ambitious, but this issue lacks ambition to the degree he’s just churning to get a comic out. Maybe because Boom!’s got a dollar issue next, it doesn’t matter. It’s the last issue before an imposed “jumping on” point. But Gregory takes enough story for half an issue and stretches it. Modern comics are already stretched enough for trades and Apes is no different. There’s zero “A plot” payoff here and, worse, there’s no “B plot.” The character drama from the first couple issues has vanished. Now…

Planet of the Apes 3 (June 2011)

I wish Gregory–and Boom! in general–were more forthcoming. About halfway through the issue, I started wondering if Apes was more a relaunch than just a prequel. Meaning, even though it’s set 1,200 years before the first movie, maybe the movie isn’t going to be precisely how it works. The movie’s got a cheap, limited set. The comic doesn’t… is it moving towards cheap, limitedness or is the movie going to be revamped? Those questions are important for a movie tie-in book. Otherwise, the issue’s okay. Except Gregory doesn’t know how to make the humans sympathetic. The humans in Apes aren’t insurgents, rallying…

Planet of the Apes 2 (May 2011)

Most of Magno’s art is too good for a Planet of the Apes comic. He clearly takes a lot of time and care creating the comic’s setting. So when he has a bad panel, it’s striking, especially since it’s usually something inexplicable–like drawing a character bad when one panel before it was fine or good. But Magno’s art is a small quibble. Boom!’s Apes continues to be harmless licensed material, even as Gregory starts moving towards choppy water. He includes one of the mutants from Beneath, which creates a narrative problem. The reader might recognize the character, but the protagonists in the…

Revolution on the Planet of the Apes 6 (August 2006)

Even with Fowler back, nothing can stop Revolution from having a lousy finish. O’Brien introduces a fighter pet gorilla. He just shows up. Maybe Templeton planned a second limited series from his point of view… I’m glad he never got around to telling that bad story. This issue is loose with the characters. O’Brien was never good at making any of them interesting, so when they start dying off, the momentous scenes have no weight. The whole thing just can’t end fast enough. And then when it does end, when O’Brien finishes with an inane development (apes learned to talk seven days…

Revolution on the Planet of the Apes 5 (July 2006)

Swell, Templeton brings in Kent Burles (from the Adventure series) for the backup. Burles’s art is still bad. Worse, Templeton’s script doesn’t have any action, so Burles is doing talking heads. It’s incomprehensible. But it does explain there are multiple lawgivers (which doesn’t make much sense) and there’s something with the development of ape society. It’s pretty crappy; I expected more from Templeton’s writing. The feature story has Sam back on the art, which isn’t a good thing. This issue’s about diversion–ties to the movies, ties to the Marvel black and white magazines. O’Brien sticks to the humans for this one, which…