In Review: Kong on the Planet of the Apes #4

The Eighth Wonder of the World is Kong on the Planet of the Apes!

The covers: A trio to collect for the fourth issue of this series. A family of four chimpanzees pose before a Kong that’s chained in Ape City. Though Kong is disinterested in the photo, looking off to his left at something in the distance, I’m feeling incredibly nervous for this family. I know the wrath of this giant and they have no clue of what he’s capable of. This is a fine Regular cover by Mike Huddleston, though the background is not as defined as the characters in the foreground. Much more to my liking is the Connecting cover by Carlos Magno with colors by Chris Blythe. Ursus dominates the left side of this cover, looking ferocious. Next to him is Cornelius, also looking a fright. Next is Zira who is serious, followed by Dr. Zaius who looks intensely off the cover to the right. Behind these characters is an explosive Kong, raging at something. Lightning swarms around him. Between this behemoth and the apes is a construction of branches topped off by decorated human skulls. This looks great and is very ominous. The Subscription cover is by Han Woody with the design by Dylan Todd. This captures the feel of a pulp novel, with the title of this book being When Worlds Collide. Kong holds Ursus in his hand, with the general stroking the beast’s upper lip. It’s a bit difficult to make out the details in the art with the characters so dark, though the rose back lighting helps a little. Above this image the text states “What will ensue when ape meets ape…A new world of simian peace, or a primitive battle between will and strength?” Nice. Overall grades: Regular B+, Connecting cover A, and Subscription cover B+

The story: This issue has every page create tension because the apes have brought Kong to their shores. The giant is continually sobbing, but any reader or fan knows that Kong won’t stay that way. Sooner or later the monster is going to be done with his smaller cousins and things are going to go epically bad for them. Ryan Ferrier starts this issue with Kong dragged ashore, with Zaius telling the gorillas he’s been pacified. Ni’ta is taken off the ship and Zira reluctantly gags her so that order is maintained. Also aboard the ship are six creatures secretly transported by Ursus. Food ran out for the beasts three days before they landed, though all survived. The gorilla general says to their keeper, “Don’t feed them for another four. After hunger comes compliance.” Argus reluctantly agrees. Ni’ta does something when she is taken through Ape City, Cornelius makes a surprising decision, Zira finds a friend to help her, and Zaius reveals Kong to the populace that would do Carl Denham proud. Every turn of a page had me waiting for Kong to end his tears at his predicament and show the apes who’s clearly in charge. However Ferrier goes in a different direction and it’s brilliant. The final five pages turn to a different threat with chaos set loose. This story has every ape completely true to his or her character, with Kong’s presence changing their world. Ursus is a wonderful villain in this issue as he shows himself to be a violent taskmaster. Zaius acts as though Kong is the second coming, but what that second coming will be is being held back for another issue. Cornelius has the strongest change from the films in this installment, with his decision on an issue causing Zira to feel as though she’s been betrayed. Ferrier is creating an incredibly fascinating collision of franchises. Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork on this book is sensational. The four images that tease Kong’s arrival on the beach are great and the final panel on the first page is a terrific images of the apes, Kong, and an iconic landmark. The first panel on Page 2 sets up the three panels that follow well, showing the work it takes to move the large ape and how others feel about the creature, including a painful look on Kong himself. The emotion that artist Carlos Magno can get from the apes is sensational. The stress he puts on Zira and Cornelius is terrific, with them obviously pained at what they have to do. The creatures shown in a full-paged spalsh on 5 is outstanding — they look more threatening than Kong. The partial double-paged splash of 6 and 7 is outstanding, with a massive crowd in the center of Ape City while the returning travelers try to make their way through them. Ni’ta’s action at the end of 6 is great: her emotion is incredibly strong, as it needs to be for this response. Pages 8 – 12 really have the apes emoting well, with Zira breaking down, Ursus looking wonderfully insane on 10, and a nephew angered. The reveal on 13 and 14 mirrors that of the classic 1933 film, with the full-paged splash on the latter massive. The circular panel (one of my favorite kinds of panels) on 18 is outstanding, with Magno making that individual look as though he is smiling deliriously at the proceedings. The characters that share a panel at the bottom of the page look amazing. The action that ends 19 is startling, yet impressively done so that the graphic action is hidden. The final three pages contain a lot of action, with the final page being a full-paged spread that shows hell unleashed. I look forward to the looming chaos that Magno is going to illustrate for the final two issues in this series. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Alex Guimarães does a commendable job on this book’s characters. The apes could be colored in uniform colors, but he instead gives each character a great blending of colors to make their hair or flesh appear three dimensional. It’s really impressive on Kong, who could be colored entirely black, but instead has perfectly highlights to add dimension to the art. Look at the work done on the chimpanzees — it’s great. The colors of the group shown on 5 is fine, though their prison’s colors does have them blending in a bit too much with them. Kong’s hands on 14 are excellent. The release on the final three pages have the dangerous characters standing out better than they did on 5 because they’re not confined by something that’s colored similarly. I love the reds on these characters, with them being gorgeously colored on the final page. Overall grade: A

The letters: Yells, sounds, dialogue, a journal entry, scene settings, chants, and the tease for next issue are created by Ed Dukeshire. There are several different types of yells in this issue, ranging from ordering troops to screams of terror. I loved that they were visually different, which allows the reader to judge the volume of what’s bellowed. The brief journal entry was neat, as it looked as though it was scrawled out by hand. The chants of a mob are gigantic compared to other text on the page. Dukeshire makes the text visually interesting for the reader. Overall grade: A

The final line: The Eighth Wonder of the World is Kong on the Planet of the Apes! A clever story where the characters are true to their film counterparts delivered with art that is incredibly detailed. This is a winning book in every possible way. Recommended. 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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