Invisible Republic 6 (September 2015)

Invisible Republic #6

There’s some very good stuff this issue. Not all of it, but some of it. Bechko and Hardman have get a couple good surprises in—the most impressive aspect of Invisible Republic (so far) is how thoughtful and controlled their narrative moves. It almost reads like an adaptation of something else—a novel—thanks to that thoughtfulness. There’s a depth to the comic, even though some of it seems standard.

For example, this issue is mostly talking heads. It’s Maia in the journal flashback doing talking heads, it’s the reporters in the present doing talking heads. Neither element is particularly interesting (save the two or three reveals the writers get in) but Hardman’s art is strong enough it doesn’t matter much. He creates a perfectly reasonable sci-fi setting for these events, which would read (in summary) like twentieth century European political history otherwise.

The one big problem with the comic is the disconnect between Hardman’s style and the present day reporter protagonist. The guy is too lame and Hardman draws him too clean. The reporter, Babb, is a punchline, yet Hardman doesn’t have that kind of humor in his art.

It’s a solid, gorgeous book.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; editor, Brenda Scott Royce; publisher, Image Comics.

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Invisible Republic 4 (June 2015)

Invisible Republic #4

The present continues to be a problem in Invisible Republic. Dystopian, otherworldly newspaper stories just don’t have much potential apparently. Especially not when the solution is simple–either Maia dies (regardless of how) or she lives. She might be some kind of mythic figure or a rich lady or a poor lady, but there are limited options.

It appears Bechko and Hardman understand those limitations because they keep making the present stuff more complicated. In this issue, the male reporter gets a female sidekick. She’s a better character than him, which seems like a good sign, but then their joint investigation is boring.

Meanwhile, the flashback to Maia working in bees is good. The writers have a good idea for her story, they just put it in a somewhat useless frame. Hopefully that frame will get better, but it’s actually been getting worse.

As always, some gorgeous art from Hardman.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; editor, Brenda Scott Royce; publisher, Image Comics.

Invisible Republic 3 (May 2015)

Invisible Republic #3

Little bit too much future stuff going on this issue of Invisible Republic. There’s a whole action sequence with the reporter. Hardman’s art is intricate for the action sequence, which has two parts in the issue and is bigger than anything in the flashback.

The flashback’s somewhat stronger, but opening with the reporter in a predicament makes Maia’s narration lose some impact. She’s not the most exciting thing going on this issue, which has a couple reasons for existing. It’s a bridging issue where all Hardman and Bechko have to do is hit two vista points on the bridge and they’ll be all set for something further down.

It’s fine, it’s good. It just feels very artificial, which might just be the way Republic is going to go with the flashback structuring.

Great art, of course, helps. Hardman’s future manages to be boring and scary, the flashbacks ugly and sentimental.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; editor, Brenda Scott Royce; publisher, Image Comics.

Invisible Republic 2 (April 2015)

Invisible Republic #2

This issue of Invisible Republic has a little too much flashback and not enough with the reporter in the present. The problem is how little the flashback stuff actually matters; sure, the girl is sympathetic, but only because she’s in an unfair situation and she has a psycho future-dictator for a cousin.

The stuff in the present is actually, if underrepresented as far as the narrative, less interesting than the flashback. The present feels too 1984-lite at times, while the stuff in the past feels like sci-fi caste system stuff. Far more interesting.

Hardman and Bechko have put a lot of thought into Invisible Republic, so much they’re clearing spinning their wheels at times to see how Hardman’s going to visualize that spinning (well, he visualizes it well). The enthusiasm gets the comic past its various bumps and it’s an engaging read.

But flashback cliffhangers are weak.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; publisher, Image Comics.

Invisible Republic 1 (March 2015)

Invisible Republic #1

I’m going to be cynical for a second and remember Orson Scott Card did a spin-off of his Ender’s Game novels where he told the story of the brother turned benevolent dictator. Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s Invisible Republic does the story of the cousin turned regular crappy dictator.

It’s not, from what I can tell (I’ve never read aforementioned spin-off novels), a knock-off. There’s a really good framing device–after the dictator’s reign falls, the press flocks to this small moon (it’s also a sci-fi story, a similarity to the Ender’s Game stuff) and the issue is this reporter’s investigation.

It gives Republic a post-WWII movie mixed with some very 1984 sci-fi visualizations, even though it’s set in the far future.

Nice dialogue from Hardman and Bechko, great art from Hardman. Republic’s familiar sounding and all, but expertly executed sci-fi comics.

CREDITS

Writers, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Hardman; colorist, Jordan Boyd; publisher, Image Comics.

Kinski 6 (November 2014)

Kinski #6

Hardman brings the story to a satisfactory, if somewhat unreasonable conclusion. He jumps through time a lot–a year total–and skips over the more interesting parts of his protagonist’s experiences. He also stops with the character study aspect of Kinski and treats the whole issue as an epilogue.

So while the narrative has a neat tie at the end, Hardman never really did anything with it. The point was the reading experience, something he succeeded executing. But the comic often feels like it could go further–and not explaining means Hardman can’t fail. However, as a narrative where he never tries to explain, it all feels too traditional.

Still, it’s a beautifully illustrated, often really well written comic book. Hardman got six issues out of a relatively slight idea–one he never significantly expanded on. It’s just a little too bad he didn’t try for more with the series.

B 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

Kinski 5 (October 2014)

Kinski #5

Hardman finds a better mix of the character work and the action, with his protagonist sharing a car ride with the dog’s owner and finding out a little more about her life. There’s nothing more about the protagonist (except his willingness to talk himself into bad situations). Instead, Hardman expands the supporting cast through the protagonist’s journey.

It’s almost a soft boot of the series, which started as the protagonist’s story, moved into more action oriented episodes and is now a look at the dog’s actual owners and their lives. Though Hardman does manage to get in some more action at the end of the issue.

Whether or not there’s a satisfactory conclusion, Hardman has definitely shown he can get a lot of mileage out of a simple idea and a good setting. His dialogue and character work this issue are phenomenal. And his action composition is masterful as always.

B+ 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

Kinski 4 (February 2014)

Kinski #4

So now the action moves to the RV park, or RV gathering–it’s unclear how it’s working but the RVs aren’t parked in any sort of sensible way. Not to harp on it, it’s just strange. And the sidekick even says he needs to leave to get back to real life.

This issue is when Kinski goes from being real and strange to just being strange. It’s a tragedy now, with contrivances just to make the plot move. Bad luck following around the protagonist, who gets almost nothing to do this issue–except his action scenes. And an issue like this one, set over a half hour or less, it just… it’s too slight again.

There’s a good scene at the open with the dog owner, with Hardman taking a moment away from the missing dog (in the RV park) main plot. Its writing has personality, the rest… far less.

B- 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

Kinski 3 (September 2013)

Kinski #3

It’s the equivalent of an action issue for Kinski. Hardman resolves the previous issue’s cliffhanger, putting the protagonist and his friend back on the road. There’s some slight character drama–and a way too obvious plea for exposition from the friend–before Hardman gets to the rest stop.

Because they’re stuck in traffic; I forgot they were stuck in RV traffic. It’s a little much, though the image of the one car amid a bunch of RVs does seem like a gritty Far Side cartoon or something.

Hardman doesn’t have much in the way of character work or action this issue. All the character stuff is forced and when he finally does get to a silent scene, it’s the action scene. There’s no talking, but there’s no character work in the art, just running. Lots and lots of running.

Hardman’s timing for the panels is great… the issue’s just slight.

B 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

Kinski 2 (June 2013)

Kinski #2

The strangeness of Kinski continues. Hardman sort of wraps the narrative around itself, with the protagonist going back to the same motel from the previous issue, having another encounter with one of the dog’s actual owners. But these similar situations play fresh, thanks to all the character work Hardman does on his protagonist.

And that character work, which Hardman is doing mostly in art, not in dialogue, is one of Kinski’s most striking qualities. It’s a character study masquerading as a more traditional epical story, with Hardman doing the former in the art and the latter in the narrative. Hardman’s not a mad scientist, but he’s definitely experimenting with traditional comic storytelling.

For the most part, the art is outstanding. Hardman never rushes himself; the panel compositions and layouts are great. Until the last scene, where he ends with a full page spread after rushing the previous page.

Still….

A- 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

Kinski 1 (May 2013)

Kinski #1

Kinski is a strange comic. The content–a business guy on the road doing a pitch and finding a lost dog–is strange. It’s even stranger given Gabriel Hardman’s stark, realistic black and white art. Hardman’s writing also ignores the quirky nature of the story and goes for realism. The awkwardness of the protagonist, now obsessed with the dog, is both off-putting and tragic.

The comic reads rather fast–besides a montage sequence in the middle of the comic, most of the issue is when the guy finds the dog and then asks other people if they know the dog. That scene ends with animal control setting up and Kinski getting even stranger.

By the end of the comic, Hardman has introduced a few suggestions of danger, some immediate, some just under the surface. But while the protagonist is often difficult to sympathize with, the comic itself isn’t disagreeable.

A 

CREDITS

Writer and artist, Gabriel Hardman; publisher, Monkeybrain Comics.

Deep Gravity 1 (July 2014)

Deep Gravity #1

Deep Gravity is missing something rather important–a hook. It’s a sci-fi series about people working on a different planet, mining its resources and bringing them back to Earth. The explanations all sound scientific, but it doesn’t seem to actually be scientific, so the hook isn’t it being “hard science” sci-fi.

The protagonist is some guy who goes to the planet to talk to his ex-girlfriend. It’s a three year trip so he’s dedicating six years just to talk to her again. Their relationship is fairly lame so it’s not a hook either.

Then there’s the art, from Fernando Baldó. This other world is some crazy mostly ocean place where plants and animals are the same thing. Apparently. Except none of the designs are particularly good. Baldó’s got a lot of issues with people, places, things. So the art’s not the hook.

So far Gravity’s painfully mediocre.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Mike Richardson, Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko; artist, Fernando Baldó; colorist, Nick Filardi; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Shantel LaRocque and Scott Allie; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 12 (August 2013)

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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 a bit. Cast members from Cataclysm sort of pop in for cameos, but it’s much more a movie tie-in. It’s trying to logically explain what Heston only agreeing to second sequel if the world ended broke.

It’s well-written enough, but it’s a terrible last issue.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 11 (July 2013)

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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 Couceiro way too much to do in the second half of the issue. The riot scene and its resolution could have actually been an issue on its own. There’s just not room for it here.

The comic’s got its strong points, but it’s definitely stumbling.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 10 (June 2013)

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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 good to draw here. It’s not like when he doesn’t have a lot, here he simply doesn’t have anything new or challenging.

The writers have reached a point where all they have left is the political intrigue plot line and it’s not enough to keep the series running.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 9 (May 2013)

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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 peace and then the talking human. It’s a lot of setup without any payoff whatsoever. Ergo, a bridging issue.

I’m confident Bechko and Hardman know what they’re doing, I’m just used to them having an engaging A plot in each issue. Here it’s talk, talk, talk.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Deron Bennett; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 8 (April 2013)

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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 I’m always saying about them. Cataclysm is never a slight, fast read.

The other subplots don’t have much going on. Zaius and Zira’s subplots start their inevitable dance; at the end of the issue, Cornelius cuts in for a soft cliffhanger.

The series continues to impress.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 7 (March 2013)

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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, Bechko or Hardman.

The Zira subplot this issue features a community meeting, not particularly interesting, but there are some really nice character moments. Cataclysm works because of these details from the writers.

The Cornelius subplot is action-packed and exciting. Great visuals from Couicero and Taibo help lots.

B- 

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 6 (February 2013)

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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 into the Cornelius plot; he’s not a lead, but he’s close.

The only real problem is an art one and penciller Damian Couceiro–with Mariano Taibo ably inking–can’t fix. The chimps look alike. I kept confusing Cornelius and Milo.

Otherwise, it’s fine stuff.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; penciller, Damian Couceiro; inker, Mariano Taibo; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 5 (January 2013)

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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 of the issue, while dealing with some other things, then send them off.

Not all of the writers’ choices are good ones. The food shortage and the greedy gorillas feel forced. But there’s a great scene with Milo the scientist to compensate.

It’s still surprisingly okay.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 4 (December 2012)

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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 fifth to the first. Except they use their comic to validate the bad ideas in the movies, not emphasize the good.

Again, the writing’s fine on the scenic level and Couceiro’s art’s fantastic–this issue might even be his best. But the plot’s pointless and contrived.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 3 (November 2012)

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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 ape civilization never feels fully realized.

The series started pretty strong and it’s still very well-done, only it misses the mark a lot. Couceiro deserves a lot better material; Bechko and Hardman definitely take the Apes property seriously, they just need some help with structure.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 2 (October 2012)

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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 stunning disaster imagery, however, especially as it ties into the familiar Apes visual mythology.

One can’t fault Cataclysm as a piece of licensed property–the team does an outstanding job tying into Apes. Bechko and Hardman just don’t have any story for an actual comic book.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes: Cataclysm 1 (September 2012)

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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 the two with some creativity to encourage the reader’s imagination. Licensed properties have to be unexpected to succeed, otherwise they’re just fanfic. Bechko and Hardman succeed. Cataclysm engages.

Very nice art from Damian Couceiro too. He does well both with the talking heads and the action.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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

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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 he doesn’t have very much to do. It’s a fight in an office park. A post-apocalyptic office park, but an office park just the same.

But the finish does give Laming a brief chance to try out new Apes settings and he does well with them.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Marc Laming; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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

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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 to an actual character, but he’s still way too slim. The female chimp protagonist is just another stand-in for Kim Hunter.

The script really doesn’t do Laming’s artwork justice. It doesn’t give him interesting subjects to draw, whether scenery, action or conversation.

It’s a boring comic.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Marc Laming; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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

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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 inevitable conclusion.

And here’s the problem with that approach… What if they don’t make it? What if Boom! cancels their future limiteds? Or if they losethe license? Bechko and Hardman, while they produce okay licensed material comics, aren’t going to have much if they don’t finish.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Marc Laming; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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

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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. But it’s a bunch of politics and medieval science. And really not enough medieval science; Bechko and Hardman don’t explore the ludicrousness of the apes’ science enough.

The end’s confusing (since I don’t remember Betrayal). It’s another pointless Apes comic, but it’s perfectly fine stuff.

CREDITS

Writers, Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman; artist, Marc Laming; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Dracula World Order 1 (May 2012)

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Didn’t some other publisher just try Dracula again? I guess in the vampire craze, everyone things Dracula is just the natural thing to do. To be fair, Ian Brill’s comic doesn’t seem Twilight-influenced based the vampire biology–he’s got to be able to give Dracula a rebellious son right off the bat.

So to speak.

Brill’s Dracula World Order tries to combine a monster team origin, political commentary, dystopian future and probably a couple other things. He’s got four artists on the book–Tonci Zonjic’s opening chapter is the weakest, art-wise, but still okay–but his chapters don’t make any sense. They’re artificial constructions to enable multiple artists.

The final one, with the Gabriel Hardman art, is the best. Though there’s something precious about Rahsan Ekedal’s one.

But no artist could make up for Brill’s weak dialogue or the lousy pacing. It’s not amateurish, it’s just not good.

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

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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 not.

There’s a set-up for a sequel, with a gorilla and a human hanging out. Sadly, there’s nowhere for the story to go. The secret ape prison is closed too. Bechko and Hardman are inexplicably reductive.

Great artwork though. Hardman’s art just gets better throughout.

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