In Review: Kong on the Planet of the Apes #2

A fantastic meeting of franchises that's smart and epic.

The covers: A trio to beat your chest in glee if you can find them all. The Regular cover by Mike Huddleston shows Ursus on horseback with Zira and Cornelius before him as they look into the rib cage of a monstrous deceased creature. There are two feathered raptors leaving their meal of the dead animal’s chest to consume the apes. Behind the simians is a staircase with a skull and a silhouette of Kong waving his fists. Pretty cool. The Connecting cover is by Carlos Magno, the interior artist, colored by Chris Blythe. This connects to the previous issue’s “connecting” cover, with Kong in the upper left beating his chest before his skull shaped home. In the background several pteranodons fly above him. In the foreground General Ursus points at the giant ape, while two chimpanzees seek shelter. Outstanding and the image I chose to accompany this review. The Subscription cover is by Robert Hack, with the design by Dylan Todd. This looks like an old paperback cover, complete with a yellow sticker price tag and folds. Titled Return of the King, Kong is storming Ape City, causing chaos as its citizens run at the reader in a panic. The subtitle is fantastic, “An unstoppable beast of immeasurable power, taken from paradise with nothing to lose…and everything to destroy!” This is heavy in the cheese factor and is absolutely awesome. Overall grades: Regular B+, Connecting A+, and Subscription A

The story: This second installment is initially narrated by Zira, who sums up what happens in the previous issue before she and the other apes landed on Skull Island. Trudging through the thick jungle, Zaius, Zira, and Cornelius discover some ruins that prove life existed on the island, but not the giant kind they were expecting. Under closer examination of the structure, Zira and Cornelius spot some crude drawings that show a gigantic ape. They realize that the behemoth was not alone on this island. Suddenly ravenous plants attack the chimpanzees and the gorillas and Doctor Zaius. Ryan Ferrier doesn’t make the apes’ journey on this infamous island easy, teasing danger around every corner. I was happy to see the threats on Page 8, quickly followed by larger threats on 9. One character hints at possible difficulties for future issues just with a silent look, showing that dangers are not just outside this group but within. A surprising threat appears on 13 that will change how the apes feel about their task and their island. Backstory of the island is provided by this threat and ends with a familiar ceremony occurring that summons the title character. The reactions of the apes on Pages 21 and 22 are awesome. I loved the action and the discoveries the apes made in this issue, with next issue promising some massive action. Overall grade: A 

The art: I’ll admit that I picked up the first issue of this series based on my love of both franchises, but one of the big draws to have me return to this second issue is the incredible artwork of Carlos Magno. I mean, come on — look at how Magno sets the tone of the book in the first panel with the fantastic work on the ship, the violent waters it sits in, the silhouette of the apes exiting the vessel, and the distant mountains that contain that iconic skull. The apes look great in every panel, with the work done on their hair extraordinary. The ruins they discover would look fantastic in an Indiana Jones outing. The plants that attack the troop look great; they could have been an Audrey II knockoff, but they look unlike any other plant monsters I’ve seen in other books. The threats that attack on 8 and 9 are also original looking and are killer! As fierce as these beasts are, a true danger appears in the final panel on 11, foreshadowing future trouble. The arrival of characters on 13 had me thinking of a Patty Jenkins film and they are just as magnificent looking. Again, a character has a very telling reaction in the final panel on the page: I can’t wait to see what this individual does! The character in the second and third panels on 14 is incredible. The character that gives backstory on the island to the apes reminds me of Maria Ouspenskaya, and that’s the voice I heard when she spoke. The build up on 20 recalled a key event from the 1933 film and the reactions on the final page, which have no text, are awesome. The final panel of the book is phenomenal. Magno is an illustrating god. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Alex Guimarães gives Magno’s art the necessary punch it needs. Zaius, Cornelius, and Zira shine in every panel they’re in due to the colors of their clothes. I love the work on the foliage that the apes travel through and are used on the plants that attack them. Notice how the background in the jungle is given a light green for the sky to increase the density of their surroundings. The skin tones on the characters are also tops, with the shades of their skins giving them a tremendous sense of depth. When characters are involved in action or are making strong statements the backgrounds go crimson or orange to increase their strength. The one page of flashbacks gets some appropriately lighter colors to tell the reader that they are looking at events in the distant past. Guimarães’s work is excellent. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration, dialogue, yells, sounds, screams, and the book’s final three words come courtesy of Ed Dukeshire. I like seeing narration in a different font from dialogue and Dukeshire does this well. The yells on this book instantly catch the eye due to their size, as do the screams when the apes are attacked. There’s a lot of dialogue in several panels, but Dukeshire expertly inserts them without covering important elements of the art. Overall grade: A

The final line: A fantastic meeting of franchises that’s smart and epic. Ape shall not kill ape will surely be tested soon. The story is fun and the visuals incredible. This is a monstrously successful series. Overall grade: A  

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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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