Kong on the Planet of the Apes #6 (April 2018)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #6

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #6 is one of those shocking disappointments. When I got done with the comic, I had to page back through to make sure I’d read it right. It really does just serve as a connective tissue between the first Apes movie and the second one. None of the character development matters. None of the events matter. It’s all about moving chess pieces.

I suppose Ferrier does an admirable job moving them. I mean, it’s soulless work, but he does the work. He and his editors do prime the scene for the second Apes movie. They just don’t do anything else.

Oh, wait, there’s an Empire State Building reference. Because Kong hits the Forbidden Zone and this time it’s basically all of New York City, just underground. There aren’t the budget constraints of the second movie.

It doesn’t come off well, visually. Nothing comes off well.

What a disappointing book. Though I’m upset with myself I had any hope for it.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Alex Guimarães; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Gavin Gronenthal and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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Kong on the Planet of the Apes #5 (March 2018)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #5

Kong attacks Ape City in Kong on the Planet of the Apes #5. And instead of being some fantastic homage to previous Kong stories, that giant ape attack just shows how poorly Magno is able at visualizing a giant ape attacking humanoid apes. The Kong action panels are sparing–though there are some questionable close-ups–and even then way too much. By the end of the comic, when the Skull Island priestess hopes on Kong’s shoulder to run off and plan their escape? Magno’s burned through all the goodwill. And the book had just on surviving nostalgia fumes.

Until Kong breaks out, most of the issue is the movie regulars being awful to one another. Cornelius has betrayed Zira, Zaius is playing martyr, Ursus (the ape general) is trying to take down Kong. It’s tiresome. And the furry dinosaur monsters aren’t any better.

Kong breaking out gives the story some energy, even if the art doesn’t work out, and Ferrier writes the issue into a perplexing soft cliffhanger. A callback, again, to the first movie and an unexpected plot development. The development makes me concerned how Ferrier’s going to wrap it all up in an issue.

Unless Boom! has Son of Kong on the Planet of the Apes planned or something.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Alex Guimarães; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Gavin Gronenthal and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #4 (February 2018)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #4

Maybe a quarter of the way into Kong on the Planet of the Apes #4–really makes me hope there’s a Son of Kong Beneath the Planet of the Apes sequel–but about a quarter in, I couldn’t help but wonder why I’m reading such a depressing comic. It’s not like there’s a happy ending for a Planet of the Apes story or a King Kong story. This issue doesn’t just have a captured Kong crying–dashing hopes of him stomping Ape City–it’s got the gorillas kidnapping one of the Skull Island natives and then a big twist for fans of the original movies. Especially the first three movies.

Of course, not all in the first quarter. The first quarter just has kidnapped native and crying Kong.

But I kept reading. Because even though reading some depressing sociological look at a fictive future society seems not just pointless but downright unpleasant… Ferrier writes sociological looks at fictive future societies quite well. He covers a lot. Religion. Hucksterism. Science. Military. The intersections of the four. It’s a smart script. It just happens to be for a mostly disposable licensed franchise crossover.

The last quarter of the issue is far more action-packed, with Ferrier and Magno pacing it beautifully.

I knew I read this comic for better reasons than I’m a sucker for Kong.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Alex Guimarães; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Gavin Gronenthal and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #3 (January 2018)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #3

I was wondering how long I could sustain interest in Kong on the Planet of the Apes and I think that answer is three issues. Kong #3 is fine–Magno’s art is less detailed, which sometimes works better than when he’s extremely detailed. Detailed meaning lines. Lots and lots of lines.

The humans are good, the Kong action is good. The Apes? Not so much. I mean, it’s fine, but boring. Ferrier doesn’t have anything for the good apes to do this issue. It’s all the bad apes planning to attack and kidnap Kong.

Why?

Because it’s what happens in Kong stories.

Unfortunately, Ferrier forces his way through it all. The scientists keep talking about making important discoveries but they aren’t discovering anything, just talking about it. The gorilla general’s story is ominous and unlikable. It’s unpleasant. The bad apes are planning to kill all the Skull Island humans, it’s just waiting for them to do it.

There’s no humor in this issue either. No witty observations about either franchise. There is some stuff from the BOOM! Kong license, which isn’t the movies and centers around the Skull Island tribal culture.

Frankly, yawn.

But those scenes are the ones with better Magno lines.

Anyway. I say I’m done but I’ll probably be back for one more. I just remembered Ferrier’s doing a direct sequel to the first movie and maybe there are some loose ends to tie up from it. Maybe Charlton Heston comes back. Maybe Kong carries Charlton Heston to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

Probably not. But maybe.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Alex Guimarães; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Gavin Gronenthal and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong on the Planet of the Apes 2 (December 2017)

Kong on the Planet of the Apes #2

Ferrier continues with his weird sequel to the first Planet of the Apes movie, only with a little King Kong thrown in. And a lot of Skull Island. There’s plenty of Skull Island. And its natives and its monsters.

Magno’s design on the monsters–furry dinosaurs, killer vines, a pterodactyl–all looks a little off. Even though there’s good panel composition, Magno’s a little too busy for the action. He paces well though. He and Ferrier get a lot of story into one issue.

Even if it’s just the apes walking around the island until the natives find them, so not a long present action. But an active one.

Ferrier tries to reconcile the first film’s events with the rest of the original film series’s continuity (like why do the apes now hunt humans given John Huston told them to be friends). And he and Magno are downright gentle when it comes to Zira and Cornelius.

Kong is more than competently produced and fairly interesting (thanks to Ferrier).

If you dig Planet of the Apes licensed comics, anyway.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Alex Guimarães; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Gavin Gronenthal and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong on the Planet of the Apes 1 (November 2017)

Kpota1Kong on the Planet of the Apes #1

For a while, Kong on the Planet of the Apes is kind of fun. Writer Ryan Ferrier is doing a direct sequel to the original movie, but with Queen Kong on the shore just behind the Statue of Liberty. Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter are still under house arrest for helping Charlton Heston. It’s an interesting way to do the crossover–Ferrier’s doing a sequel as subplot.

Plus there are a few moments where Dr. Zaius reminds, alternately, of Robert Armstrong and, yes, Charles Grodin. Kong on the Planet might be an Apes sequel, but it also has a lot of King Kong-related feels.

Basically the remaining cast of the first movie goes on the Kong hunt expedition. Zira writes about the ocean voyage. They land at another ape settlement and get provisions and hear tales of the dreaded giant apes.

By the end of the issue, they’re at Skull Island and artist Carlos Magno is drawing a terrible Kong. Some of the mystery is gone. But hopefully next issue will have enough oddity factor to get it through. Ferrier’s script falls off once they’re underway at sea. He’s going to have to reestablish the book real quick next issue.

As for Magno’s art? Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. He’s too concentrated on lines. His faces aren’t distinct. They’re busy but not distinct. It’s a talky comic, knowing a character from sight is important. And Dr. Zaius never looks the same from panel to panel. There’s always something a little off.

Anyway. It’s worth at least another issue. It’s going to be six issues; Ferrier makes the case for about three here. So two’s going to be important.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan Ferrier; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Alex Guimarães; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Gavin Gronenthal and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong of Skull Island 4 (October 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #4

There’s simultaneously too much and not enough going on. Asmus doesn’t do any character development, just more revelations in the political intrigue. He hasn’t built the foundation for it. While Magno has some beautiful composition for the still moments, the action’s messy. Kong’s a lot of work.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong of Skull Island 3 (September 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #3

Giant apes are more interesting than political intrigue, even political intrigue involving multiple betrayals. These betrayals all happen during a crisis and all happen with characters it’s impossible to really care about because we’re three issues into Kong of Skull Island–the title does now make awesome (and plural) sense, however.

Still Asmus does a bit of a better job this issue than the last time around. Not good enough to right the course of the comic but at least enough to encourage further time and reading energy.

Another problem this issue is how much Magno has to do with the art and in how little time. He’s got a volcanic eruption, a political coup and a Kong riot. By the time the lava gets to some stranded folks, I’d forgotten about the volcano entirely. There was too much of the other stuff–including that pointless political intrigue. At least the Kong wrangler lady gets more to do, even if way too much of it happens off panel so Asmus can concentrate on moving the disaster part of it forward.

But next issue promises lots of giant apes versus dinosaurs–and some yawn-inducing political intrigue, no doubt–so I’ll be back. But Kong’s almost out of the goodwill the first issue generated.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong of Skull Island 2 (August 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #2

This issue of Kong of Skull Island is a moderate disappointment. The book was off to a surprisingly strong start after its premiere issue, only to stumble through every page of this second one. Occasionally, Asmus and Magno hit a stride for a couple pages, but there’s always another drop off. Asmus loses his strong protagonist for the issue, whether she’s present or not. The opening has her, but it’s a mess of an action scene. Magno has some really cool art of the Kong, but not much else. He’s rushing through what should be the character moments.

There’s way too much with a royal wedding involving the protagonist’s boyfriend. He’s marrying a more appropriate princess. It’s annoying stuff and paced entirely wrong. When the Kong trainer does show up again, the comic’s almost over. She’s just there to have a fight with the prince dude before something else happens.

Asmus doesn’t connect with any of the material this issue. He’s adapting, so the plot isn’t his fault, just his inability to find a way to write it with personality.

I really wish the comic had been better. It’s almost there on the art–Magno has some great stuff, he really does, but better art isn’t going to fix the writing.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Kong of Skull Island 1 (July 2016)

Kong of Skull Island #1

So, when Dark Horse released Kong: King of Skull Island over ten years ago, I bought it. It wasn’t cheap. And I read it. It wasn’t good. Kong of Skull Island is based on that “illustrated novel.” (It was by Joe DeVito).

Anyway–I wasn’t excited about Kong of Skull Island. Artist Carlos Magno is sort of Boom!’s go-to licensed event guy. He’s incredibly competent, incredibly thoughtful, but lacking in anything particularly dynamic. Kong doesn’t give him anything particularly dynamic. It does play to his strengths, however. He gets to do lots of detailed scenery, lots of carefully posed characters in panels so as not to have to carry the comic with their dialogue, lots of giant monsters, lots of awesome quarter page spreads.

Oh, right. The “awesome” factor to Kong. It’s about a bunch of giant apes–who fight, of course–their intellectually and socially (if not technologically) advanced Polynesian keepers and an island with a bunch of dinosaurs. There’s a cool mythology to it, which works in Kong because writer James Asmus isn’t keeping DeVito’s frame. God forbid he does a sequel series, but who knows, I think they might do an all right job of it.

I went into Kong of Skull Island expecting nothing. Instead, there’s some cool Magno art–he does apes well–there’s dinosaurs, there’s an engaging enough tragic Polynesian romance thing, there’s giant apes fighting. It works. I kind of hope Boom! doesn’t screw up this licensed franchise thing. They’re doing all right by Kong.

CREDITS

Writer, James Asmus; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Brad Simpson; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 8 (February 2015)

Robocop #8

I’m not sure how I’d describe Killian, Williamson’s long-in-the-tooth antagonist in Robocop, but soap opera tough guy might be the best description. There’s no depth to the character, which is starting to get really annoying. Though Magno’s design for the him does look a lot like an eighties tough guy, which fits in with it being a sequel to Robocop.

This issue has Williamson lift a scene from Batman Returns to get stuff done, which is fine (there’s nothing else to do in that situation), but the parts with Robocop all of a sudden an upgraded superhero, doing things impossible to do with a man in a tin can suit? It’s where Robocop breaks. It’s where you can’t suspend disbelief long enough to hear Peter Weller’s voice saying the lines.

Williamson is still earnest with Robocop, but he’s not restrained enough. Not having a “budget” hurts it.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 7 (January 2015)

Robocop #7

Seeing Robocop run–he gets upgraded–reminds of two things. First, it’s like running zombies. Second, it’s a little like Batman on ice skates. It’s just too much. Magno’s art is stronger than it has been in the last few issues so he’s able to tone it down and keep the action grounded, but it’s still too much.

However, Robocop being faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound isn’t the emphasis of the issue. The cops finally get around to going after the bad guy; Murphy gets some evidence, Lewis gets some evidence. Williamson’s Mr. Big is going down!

But not this issue. This issue has a boring hard cliffhanger.

Still, Magno does well with all the action and talking heads and so on and Williamson does really well with Lewis’s arc this issue. It’s problematic licensed property stuff, but still worthwhile.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 6 (December 2014)

Robocop #6

It’s a bridging issue. An undercover cop goes after Killian–in one of Williamson’s most unexpected moves, the character (who everyone is accusing of being an undercover cop) turns out to be an undercover cop just in time for the cliffhanger. Robocop gets beat up by the new ED–209, which has a silly name I can’t remember. And Anne Lewis gets into a yelling match about how she’s not going to back down from her job (with another female detective).

And Robocop gets new legs. He can run now. Not quite a jetpack, but… a running Robocop.

Next time, because this issue is a bridging issue.

It’d probably be okay if it weren’t for some real compositional laziness on Magno’s part. He’s wasting a lot of space, with angles intended to fill space with blah content. Without anything particularly good in the narrative, the art pitfalls hurt the issue.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 5 (November 2015)

Robocop #5

Once again, there are occasional moments where this issue of Robocop feels a little bit too much like Robocop 2. Not even the action, but the way Williamson is moving things along for Murphy. The evil OCP conspiracy, him having to get fixed. In terms of action, however, there is an ED–209 fight and Murphy having a super-nightstick instead of a gun.

Also, Robocop not getting a gun feels a little too much like Robocop 2 as well.

I hate bringing up those comparisons, but Williamson was setting Robocop the comic up to be something different. Magno’s art is still gritty (though really problematic in this issue) so some of the details really don’t play.

But there’s good character work on Lewis, if her dialogue gets a little too much towards the end of her scenes. And some nice small parts from familiar movie characters.

Not bad stuff.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 4 (October 2014)

Robocop #4

Williamson does a couple unexpected things this issue. First, he brings a level of what one has to call Robocop 2 ultra-violence–well, technically Magno brings it–but Williamson wrote the scene. It's a big hero moment for Robocop and it's awesome. Robo saves the day.

Then Lewis turns around and figures out a way to save the day a little bit more, if only temporarily, because Williamson doesn't have a short game for Robocop. He's going long with the series and he's asking the reader for something of a significant investment. He's going beyond the accepted norms for a Robocop comic.

Sure, the cliffhanger–gun control is so tight Robocop has to lose the sidearm–is a Robocop 2 moment in the worst way, but the issue shows some definite ambition on Williamson's part.

The really awkward scene where Murphy talks about dying is great too.

It's a difficult, not entirely successful comic.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 3 (September 2014)

Robocop #3

This issue is the best one Williamson’s written so far. It’s not Magno’s drawn; he’s better than last time but there are still a lot of perspective issues. They make the body proportions look off when they aren’t. It’s too bad.

The issue opens with a flashback to villain Killian’s youthful offending days. It’s a good move, since Williamson is able to use information from it to flesh out the character in the present action.

Williamson also gives the cops enough to do. He has a new supporting cast member, a detective–who I really hope stays because she plays off Lewis well–and some actual investigating for Lewis and Murphy. They banter sparingly; Williamson shows restraint but it’s also the most personality he’s given Murphy to date.

The issue’s an excellent mix all around. Williamson opens it up a little, peopling the comic.

Only the cliffhanger flops. It feels too familiar.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 2 (August 2014)

Robocop #2

Robocop continues to have problems, but this issue they're different ones. For instance, Magno's art isn't as detailed. He's concentrating on foreground figures and letting the backgrounds go loose (with a handful of splash page exceptions). And his figures get flatter as the issue progresses.

But Williamson is doing better with Robocop and Lewis. Most of Robo's scenes are action ones to further the plot–Detroit is banning guns and the cops are out collecting, so it's a lot of quick scenes of Robocop in action. Good stuff. As for character development, it comes later and Williamson only teases this issue. His Robocop is going to be complicated; his promise seems sincere enough to allow for a delay.

The problem's the villains. He's got a crime boss masquerading as a community leader and then some out of town bad guys coming in. They're so peculiar they're distracting.

Like I said… problems.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Robocop 1 (July 2014)

Robocop #1

This comic is way too short.

It’s frustrating too because creators Joshua Williamson and Carlos Magno go out of their way to show they know how to do a Robocop comic. Magno’s art is excellent, nice amount of grit, nice amount of visual reference to the first movie and especially the actors (without being desperately photo-referenced). And Williamson writes some great scenes. His only slip-up would be using a too familiar quotable.

The problem’s the pace. There’s the opening action sequence and it’s great looking, but it doesn’t really have much impact. It should have been half as long and then Williamson would have had time to establish how he’s going to write Murphy as a character. Williamson has got Lewis down, but she’s not the hard one.

Murphy’s too much a subject, not enough an active player.

So it’s a soft start, but there’s clearly solid foundation.

B 

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Marissa Louise; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editors, Alex Galer and Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes 4 (July 2011)

831100.jpg

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 it’s Gregory pretending he’s doing “Battlestar” insurgency stuff, only with Apes.

Except, like I said before, he’s not. Especially since we (the reader) already have suspicions (ones Gregory painfully laid) there’s a puppet master behind it all.

Magno does some nice art, though his iffy panels return.

Planet of the Apes 3 (June 2011)

823816.jpg

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 against an oppressor… they’re dumb murderers. This issue reveals there’s probably a puppet master, which would be a cop-out.

Anyway, Magno keeps his art consistent this time and it helps.

While it’s hard to get interested when there’s no legitimate conflict, Apes remains harmless.

Planet of the Apes 2 (May 2011)

817895.jpg

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 book have no idea. So the reader is miles ahead of the characters… doesn’t make the drama particularly compelling.

There’s also the more significant problem of the setting. It’s unbelievable apes and humans got along well enough to build Gregory’s society.

He’s writing into a corner.

Planet of the Apes 1 (April 2011)

PlantOfTheApes_01_CVR_A.jpg

Damn, Daryl Gregory kills John Huston.

Gregory’s got a rough task—the franchise has always had a confined setting, both in time and place (regardless of jumping around). He remedies it a little… oh, wait, it takes place before the first movie? They use the text paragraph on the indicia and title page for important facts. I never pay attention to those paragraphs.

Anyway, the apes and humans (friends after the last movie in the series—the original series) are undergoing an industrial revolution, which presumably is long gone when Charlton Heston shows up. It makes for a decent, Dickensian setup. Gregory juxtaposes stepsisters (one human, one ape) as the protagonists. Unfortunately, nothing visually differentiates their narration boxes.

I have trouble getting enthusiastic about a Planet of the Apes comic. How monumental can it be when we know Chuck Heston will eventually blow up the planet?

It’s harmless licensed stuff.

CREDITS

The Long War, Part One; writer, Daryl Gregory; artist, Carlos Magno; colorist, Juan Manuel Tumburus; letterer, Travis Lanham; editor, Ian Brill; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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