In Review: Kong on the Planet of the Apes #6

Some good twists and turns in this conclusion.

The covers: The Regular cover is by Mike Huddleston and features Kong in a different kind of Forbidden Zone. He’s holding a bloody wound on the lower right side of his stomach as he makes his way through a destroyed city. Before and behind him are the iconic scarecrows of the Forbidden Zone. The smoke below and behind the title character give this setting the appearance of only just fallen. Very cool. Kong is in the center of the Connecting Variant cover by Carlos Magno with colors by Chris Blythe. He’s receiving heavy fire from the gorillas’ guns and he’s barely seen in all the smoke and gunfire. In the foreground is an ape roaring as it shoot, while at the bottom Ursus is seen with a soldier trying to reach shelter. This looks okay when combined with the other covers, but on its own it’s too hard to find a focus. The Subscription Variant cover by Fay Dalton & John Keveney, with design by Dylan Todd, is incredible. This looks like an aged paperback. Titled When Chaos Reigns, Ursus is riding one of the dinosaurs, holding his pistol ready. Below him is a human woman, wearing not much, up to her knees in a river. In the distance her male companion is running to save her. Or is he running to save himself because Kong is right behind him? Gorgeous illustration and colors, with that sky making the action perfectly harsh. This is a stunner. Overall grades: Regular A, Connecting Variant B, and Subscription Variant A+

The story: Kong with Ni’ta in tow have come to the border of the Forbidden Zone. The iconic ape is in extreme pain from the wounds it endured from the apes while it destroyed their city. With the gorillas approaching on horseback she urges the monster to leap off a cliff so their pursuers cannot follow them. Rather than waste their bullets, Ursus orders his soldiers to bring forward a giant spear they’ve constructed to pierce Kong’s heart. Ni’ta defiantly leaps down from her companion and and tells the apes, “You are sorely mistaken if you think I will let you claim us.” She then lifts a huge rock and lugs it as hard as she can. Sadly, it doesn’t go far, causing the soldiers to laugh. Kong is angered at their response and raises a fist to smite his foes, but they rush forward with the spear and things start to really happen. Ryan Ferrier wraps up his tale neatly, with Dr. Zaius and Ursus having words, Zira and Cornelius having to make an ethical choice, and Kong and Ni’ta finding more in the Forbidden Zone than they expected. With the final setting of the book in the Forbidden Zone it’s not surprising that a specific group would appear. Their reaction to Kong and the apes is interesting. It also made me realize that with Kong now inserted into this harsh world, the future cannot be changed. One plot line is left dangling for a sequel, and I really want it: on the last page of the previous issue a discovery was made. It’s fully revealed here and some movement is made into it, but only a sequel would show what’s done with it. How much money would it take, BOOM! Studios, to get that sequel? I’m in. Overall grade: A

The art: I’m head over heels in love with the illustrations in this book by Carlos Magno. The opening page of a beaten Kong trying to move for Ni’ta is brutal. One of the greatnesses of Kong is his ability to be sympathetic, going all the way back to the classic film. This Kong is equally sympathetic, taken out of his world and brought to one that’s not his own. The tear streaming from his eye in the fourth panel is painful. The arrival of the apes provokes Kong to make an action that’s fantastic, but it becomes absolute futile with the first panel atop Page 3 revealed. It’s at this point the reader knows from the visuals that there’s no way out for Kong. There’s a partial circular panel on 3 that shows the worry on Ni’ta’s face and it’s fantastic. The cold focus of Ursus at the bottom of 4 is horrific. The action against Kong on 5 is heartbreaking. The apes are focused upon on Pages 6 and 7 and they look fantastic. They communicate so much to the reader, even when they’re not talking. 9 has no text,  the panels relying solely on the reader to understand what’s occurring and they are tremendous. The reader will unquestionably feel everything that’s happening on that page. What Kong and Ni’ta discover is good surprise. What Lucius and Milo find is also awesome, starting with something ghastly at the top of 11. The top of 16 telegraphs to the reader through the visuals what’s really behind the characters’ distress and I was eager to see what Magno would do with these characters. Before that’s shown, the apes again get some fabulous focus. I love the panel that shows Zaius pointing. The characters that arrive on 20 look great and I love that they’re primarily shown being looked down upon, solidifying that they’ve always been beneath the apes. The final character shown on 21 is fantastic and would be considered handsome, were his true visage not already known to fans. The pull in to the character on the final page is beautiful. Who would have thought that the word beautiful could be used on a book with apes giant and small? This was gorgeous work. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Alex Guimarães provides the color for this book. The Apes franchise doesn’t exactly lend itself to bright colors, but Guimarães does an exemplary job in giving this book some bright spots. Ni’ta is a good way to provide some color to a scene, since her skin is much brighter than Kong’s hair and the inhospitable setting of the Forbidden Zone. Using a violet for the gorilla soldiers’ uniforms also puts some good punch into the visuals. When Ni’ta gets her close-up on Page 3 the background is given a harsh orange to show her anxiety. The coloring on Kong and the apes is impressive, with Guimarães giving their skin and hair some sensational shading. Some extreme actions on 7 – 9 return to orange backgrounds when stressful situations occur. A water setting is shown in the middle of the book. It’s provides a nice change of pace with the cool waters giving some soothing blues to all the harshness that’s been shown. 15 has the most dramatic use of colors at the top of the page. These colors overwhelm the illustration, but need to. Apes fans will know exactly what’s occurring. The yellows and flesh colors used on Dr. Zaius for the next two pages are terrific. Unearthly blues are used on 20, again telegraphing to the reader that all is not normal. Guimarães’s work on this book is strong. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue sees Ed Dukeshire creating Kong utterances, dialogue, sounds, yells, and the concluding two words. The sounds are wonderful in this issue, with HWAHs, SPLKCH, and FOOSH being great. Kong’s rumbles and wails are impressive as befits his stature. Dukeshire’s contributions are good. Overall grade: A

The final line: Some good twists and turns in this conclusion. One may think they know how this will end, but there’s enough to keep even veteran Apes fans entertained. The visuals are superior, with apes large and small looking outstanding. My only complaint is that this has ended, while there are plenty of opportunities for more stories from this combining of screen simians. 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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