Happy New Year, and welcome back to the Marvel Rundown! This week, we journey to the Planet of the Apes, in a SPOILER-LITE review of Beware the Planet of the Apes #1! Then, head down to the Rapid Rundown for spoiler-free blurbs on some of this week’s new issues!

What did you think of this week’s batch of fresh Marvel Comics, True Believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

Planet of the Apes
Beware the Planet of the Apes #1

Beware the Planet of the Apes #1

Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Álvaro López
Colorist: Alex Guimarães
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Taurin Clarke
Reviewed by D. Morris

In the Philip K. Dick novel A Scanner Darkly, the lead goes on a date to see the eleventh film in the Planet of the Apes series at a drive in. A gag at the time of release for sci-fi fans, it’s hard to describe how inescapable Planet of the Apes seemed in the 70s. Between five movies, both a live action and an animated tv show, and of course, comic books from Marvel, folks had a lot of Apes material. Yet 55 years after its original release, the original film continues to be iconic.  Its combination of biting social commentary with the strange and absurd setting remains potent. The number of homages and parodies continue to this day. And of course, there are still Planet of the Apes films. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes comes out in May. Sadly, we’re only up to ten films.

Thanks to Disney buying 20th Century Fox, Marvel once again publishes Planet of the Apes comics! Last year saw a series written by David Walker and Dave Watcher taking place in the most recent movies. So anyone expecting a follow up with Beware of the Planet of the Apes, written by Mark Guggenheim and drawn by Álvaro López, might be disappointed it is not. However, the title should be a hint for fans that this story relates to the 60s-70s film. Beware… takes place before Charlton Heston arrives in the original film. It should still be a familiar set up for fans of the classic film. The gorillas hunt down humans like Nova, the chimps Cornelius and Zira study them, and yes, Dr. Zaius makes an appearance.

This first issue does an unusual thing with its structure. Pages and panels from Marvel’s original adaptation, by Doug Moench and George Tuska, get frequently inserted to this issue. This approach provides a visual trick unique to comics medium. It works best in the opening pages where Charlton Heston’s Jim Taylor witnesses apes on horseback attacking humans. Then it transitions into the recent past where apes hunt down humans. The rest of the issue this approach mostly becomes a way to reference the film. Moments from this issue get juxtaposed with panels from the earlier comic adaptation. It works better in moments such as when readers initially meets Nova, a character from the movie. It’s more annoying than useful when Cornelius names Nova “Dark Eyes”, a random callback to the film.

Planet of the Apes

That criticism aside said Álvaro López’s art on this issue is excellent. It sits nicely next to the George Tuska panels from the 70s. López’s figures and faces have weight and expression to them. It’s hard to get that across in non-cartoony animal figures but Lopez makes the expressions on the characters clear. He makes sure Cornelius and Zira walk like chimps standing upright, not like humans. He also makes sure they both have distinguishable features from each other. Most importantly for a Planet of the Apes comic, he’s great at rendering a destroyed monument.

The story in this issue so far isn’t much. Zira’s nephew Lucious disappears so she and Cornelius go looking for him. They run across Nova, stumble into an underground facility, and then go into the Forbidden Zone. A mystery gets set up at the end but it’s not enough for a buy. That said López’s art is the real selling point here so it’s definitely a STRONG BROWSE.

Planet of the Apes

Rapid Rundown!

  • Star Wars – The High Republic: Shadows of Starlight #4
    • Centuries before the Skywalker Saga, the Republic was in a golden age, and the Jedi Order was at its zenith. The Republic and the Jedi were setting the stage for bringing peace to the Outer Rim with a massive state-of-the-art space station Starlight Beacon when the mysterious Nihil began raiding Republic planets. Eventually, the Nihil were able to destroy this symbol of hope with their unique technology and Jedi killing creatures, the Nameless. And this is where this series picks up, showing us the aftereffects of this devastating event for the Jedi, the Republic, and the Nihil. Over the last three issues writer Charles Soule, along with artists David Messina and Jethro Morales have shown how various Jedi have dealt with this new threat to them, but this last issue switches to the main villain of this era, the formidable Marchion Ro. Told over nearly a year after the fall of Starlight Beacon, Ro consolidates his power and allies behind a powerful force field that cuts off a part of the galaxy from the Republic, preparing for his next encounter with the Jedi. After the erasure of the Expanded Universe, I wasn’t quick to embrace new Star Wars books or comics, and the High Republic era has been hit and miss, but this series as a whole works for its epic scale filling in the space and setting the stage for the next big storyline. —GC3

Next Week: Ultimate Spider-Man marks a fresh start for the Parkers!