In Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes #1

This is the set up and next issue will begin the action for this bridge between the two films.

The covers: Three chimpanzees, a gorilla, and an orangutan stand upon a pile of debris, the chimps bearing spears. Behind them, through a haze of the recent war lies a sign that states “PREPARE FOR DAWN.” Readers know exactly what they’re getting into with this image from Christopher Mitten. I liked the way the apes look; whenever a character is drawn without irises it automatically looks creepy, and this is more so because they are animals. Nice coloring, too, with the background done so lightly it draws the reader slowly into the destruction. The B cover is by Jay Shaw and this is a very dramatic piece. A giant ape head dominates the top two-thirds of this illustration, with a skull substituting for one of its pupils. The title of comic is scrawled above it in red. Where the neck should be transforms into a while silhouette of the city. At the bottom, in stark red, are several people lined up as if they’re in a roll call, but their forms stop at their waists and become a pool of blood. Outstanding. The C is by Revolution Graffiti and this one is just too simple. This is a print done in white and rust where the left side of the image is a human skull and the right is an ape skull. Thin horizontal lines are behind the human skull, with larger sun-like lines projecting from the ape. Below is the word REVOLUTION, with the R colored to make the remainder of the word stand out. Nothing spectacular. Overall grades: A A, B A+, C C-

The story: This story is set two years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It begins with a couple inside a power plant trying to restart a generator. Malcolm is the one reconnecting cables and his wife Rita, accompanied by son Alex, are in the control room waiting to flip the switch to start the machine up. Just as Malcolm gives the signal, Rita gives a bloody cough. She’s got the disease. She barely hits the power button in time, but it’s no use–without a fully trained crew there will be no restarting it. The three head home, knowing they have to talk about what they’re going to do next. The apes are starting to create their home in the forest, and Maurice and Caesar need to talk about their future. The introduction of new character Pope, who makes Koba looks like a kitty cat, brings some good tension to the story for the apes. They are facing early signs of division from within and Caesar knows something has to be done. The human family also faces troubles from their own kind, which come violently, and from themselves, as Rita keeps coughing. The two groups don’t mix in this opening installment of six, but Michael Moreci is laying the groundwork for both groups to collide, and it’s not going to be pretty. A solid read, with no action, but the pieces have now been placed on the board and next month they will be played. Overall grade: A-

The art: Good art by Dan McDaid reminds me of the work of Gabriel Hardman, who has a long history with Apes comics. The opening pages in the power plant are nicely detailed and make the humans seem incredibly small as they stand within, which is a nice way to show how small humans are in this terrible future. The people look good, with Rita’s coughing always giving me pause to realize her countdown clock is ticking. Page 3 highlights this nicely. Page 10 and 11 have a new human enter the story with a disturbing visual component that was terrific. Gory, terrifying, and perfect. The apes also look good. Caesar and Maurice get most of the book. That penetrating stare that Caesar has is spot on created by McDaid and it’s haunting every time it’s used. It’s almost as if a reader can see the wheels turn in his head as he’s pondering something. Pope is a scary design of a character and he has a visual element that’s nicely mirrored when the scene returns to the human family, Page 20. The settings, such as the power plant, also look good. The apes are starting to build their city, so there are the familiar wooden steps and rails from the movie starting to be constructed. As good as this is, I was really taken by the background where Caesar and Maurice have their talk. It was beautiful and a good match for what they’re discussing. I can’t wait to see what McDaid brings to this book when the action begins. Overall grade: A

The colors: There’s nothing bright, yet, in this story, and Jason Wordie makes the colors perfect for this broken world. Pale and muted colors punctuate the human world, with Rita’s sneeze and a gunshot getting a rusty splash of brightness. The apes’ world is a little brighter, with their background being the greens of the foliage and the blue skies. Maurice also brightens up a scene with his orange hair. Sound effects and narration boxes are also colored to make them stand out on the page, and it brought focus to their text immediately. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Dialogue and narration (same font), a transmission, and sounds are by Ed Dukeshire. I really like that boxes are used for the apes’ communication, rather than the typical balloons. Another way to separate them from humans. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is the set up and next issue will begin the action for this bridge between the two films. A good read even if you haven’t seen the films. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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