In Review: Kong on the Planet of the Apes #1

A smart "must-read" story on how the discovery of a larger relation plunges the apes into seeking the forbidden and the dangerous.

The covers: Dave Huddleston is the artist of the Regular cover which features General Ursus on his horse, his rifle casually on his shoulder, the Statue of Liberty in the background. This isn’t a surprising cover for fans of the Apes, however there is one additional element — the dead body of Kong lies between him and the statue on that infamous beach. A wowser of a cover that excellently shows the two franchises and teases an actual event from the start of this issue. Well done, Mr. Huddleston. The Connecting cover is by Carlos Magno with colors by Chris Blythe. This is the first piece of a cover that will connect with the matching Issue #2 cover. On this cover, Kong’s corpse is in the lower right, the Statue of Liberty is tilted behind him, while the apes, including Cornelius, Zira, and Zaius look at the cadaver in horror. The gorilla soldiers are behind the scientists, nervously training their guns on the dead body. Excellent illustration with terrific colors. I’m very interested to see how this will connect to the next month’s installment. The Subscription cover by Hans Woody with colors by Dylan Todd is designed to look like a pulp novel cover. The title of this series is in tiny yellow font at the top, while the subtitle Death Becomes Them is under it. Kong is seen tearing out trees in the background to make his way to the gorillas in the foreground that are shooting the feathered raptor dinosaurs that are attacking them. Naturally General Ursus is in the center of the action, gravely looking at the beasts. This looks terrific and is the cover I chose to accompany this review. General Ursus swings from the top of a Kong corpse which functions like a cliff atop a mountain. He’s using the body’s empty eye sockets to plant his feet. Meanwhile on the monster’s dead, Zaius, Zira, and Cornelius react to the reckless ape’s actions. Rocks and bone he’s disturbing tumble into the abyss, while two pteranodons fly by in the distance. This suggests an inhospitable setting, but doesn’t show much defined. The colors in the background light up the dark image well. This Unlocked Retailer Variant cover is by Jae Lee & June Chung. The Unlocked Retailer Incentive Variant cover is also by Lee because it’s the same illustration as the Unlocked Retailer Variant, though without the color contributions of Chung. It’s neat, but I prefer it with the colors. Overall grades: Regular A, Connecting A, Subscription A, Unlocked Retailer Variant B, and Unlocked Retailer Incentive Variant C

The story: Ryan Ferrier has crafted an impressively engaging story. Entering the Forbidden Zone, a garrison of gorilla troops escort Dr. Zaius to the Statue of Liberty. Their goal is to destroy it after being shown it by Taylor in The Planet of the Apes film. Before they can begin, a soldier rides up to Zaius stating that he needs to go with him to see something. They walk a ways and see something that makes the orangutan mutter, “My God.” The scene then shifts to Cornelius, Zira, and Milo, under house arrest after the events of the film. Milo states that human rights have been voiced in protests and he’s considering joining them. Zira says, “So it’s true, Milo. The people are thinking. The truth about our past might still prevail. Still, we mustn’t underestimate Zaius’ persistence.” Their conversation becomes more heated until Zaius arrives, stating that Cornelius and Zira are to come with him to see something. What they see will shake the structure of ape society. This is such a smart idea for a story: How would the apes react to finding a gigantic corpse of themselves on the beach? What would this do to their faith? What would this do to their belief that they are the superior race on the planet? What the chimpanzees are allowed to do was surprising for the apes, but so smart for this story. After keeping their discovery a secret, Zaius makes a decision for all of them. The apes travel to a fantastic location on Page 15 that has Ursus testing the waters and making friends. 18 teases the ultimate destination of these characters, with one of the leads placed in a dire situation. The final two pages up the tension and the anticipation of what’s to come in the next issue sensationally. I was wowed by this story. Overall grade: A

The art: As impressive as the story are the incredibly detailed visuals by Carlos Magno. After picking this book up I looked at the first two pages’ visuals to decide if I should purchase this or not. I was sold by the full-paged splash of the Statue of Liberty on Page 2. The fine work done in the apes’ faces is fantastic. I’ve been thrilled by the look of these characters since the early 1970’s, when I saw the film, but this artwork has me lingering on each individual’s face, completely taken with each wrinkle and strand of hair. The full-paged splash on 6 is graphic, but realistic given what it’s supposed to be. What the chimps do is amazing to look upon. I was riveted. And the other apes being cut between their actions was a sensational way to show what the rest of them believe and feel; with the general’s close-up at the end of 8 wonderful. Even the settings look terrific, with their design, and again with the fine line work, and the grain of each piece of wood tremendous. The vessel that’s revealed “Three Days Later” is magnificent; something like this was never seen in any of the films, but is completely believable given their technology levels. 16 ends with two leaders making pronouncements and looking amazing. The creature and its actions that begin on 18 are frightful and fitting. The images on 21 and 22 had me cheering for what’s to come. Magno is a terrific artist for this series. Overall grade: A

The colors: Alex Guimarães is responsible for the book’s colors and he mirrors the scheme of the films. The Forbidden Zone uses tans and yellows for its empty spaces, while the pale blue of the sky shows it to be a hopeless location. The skin on the apes is amazing — Zaius’s close-up on 1 is particularly awesome. When the Statue of Liberty is fully revealed on Page 2 the sky is a grey to match the dead colors of the statue. Notice that the ape that emerges with news for Zaius enters from a bright sunlight location, suggesting, with colors, that this dead location holds the promise of something new. What’s done to the giant ape’s cadaver uses a lot of crimson that one would find in any laboratory. When the vessel that the apes will use is shown, it has the same bright splay of sunshine on it to echo the new discovery from Page 3. The orange skies on 15 are great. The sickly violet used to color the creature on 18 is a smart choice to show the monstrous nature of the beast. The colors on this book are terrific. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, yells, and sounds are created by Ed Dukeshire. I love the bold font used by Dukeshire that screams to the reader where the story is moving in this primitive society. The dialogue is easy to read and the yells nicely come off the pages with a large font that match the intensity of the situation. It’s the sounds, though, that are especially strong. These really go into overdrive starting on 18 the closer they come to their destination. My favorite is the FOOSH on 18. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A smart “must-read” story on how the discovery of a larger relation plunges the apes into seeking the forbidden and the dangerous. An engaging tale with incredibly detailed visuals. I’m going to be eagerly awaiting every issue of this series to see what happens next. Recommended reading. Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to https://shop.boom-studios.com/comics/detail/8082/kong-on-planet-of-apes-1

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Kong-on-the-Planet-of-the-Apes-1-of-6/digital-comic/578450?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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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