In Review: Planet of the Apes: The Time of Man #1

A trio of tales that will please any Apes fan.

The covers: A pair to pick up on this anthology collection. The Regular cover is by Fay Dalton and John Keaveney and spotlights the history of mankind. The left side of the illustration show a man in hunting gear holding a rifle, looking into northwestern terrain. Below his gun is an iconic scene from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Back to back to this hunter is a blonde haired man with a chain around his neck, his hands are bound, and he wears clothing that a caveman would wear. The vista he looks upon is the Forbidden Zone, complete with a gorilla on horseback holding a gun, blowing on a signal horn. Below this is the iconic image of the Statue of Liberty’s head, and below that Taylor is on his knees on a beach, accompanied by Nova, pounding his fist into the sand. Terrific combination of images that truly shows the time of man. I like how this looks like the cover of a pulp novel from the 60’s or 70’s. The Variant cover by Michael Allred, featuring colors by Laura Allred, features a scene from the end of the original Planet of the Apes. A young girl picks up a doll and squeezes it. Fans of the film don’t need dialogue balloons to know what happens next. Nova, Zira, and Cornelius are in the background and their eyes are wide at what they hear. Good image and good colors that call back to the past. Overall grade: Regular A+ and Variant A-

The stories: A trio of tales for this compilation. “Armando’s Tale” is a ten page story by David F. Walker that tells the tale of Armando, the circus owner who raised Caesar, the son of Cornelius and Zira after the events of Escape From the Planet of the Apes. This story is a bridge between that film and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. It shows the kindly human raising the young ape, teaching him to be secretive about his abilities, but bowing to Caesar’s idea of how he can make his presence known. Pages 8 and 9 provide the most backstory on the man, who receives an unwanted solicitation and unwanted news. This was good. “Man’s Best Friend” is a ten page tale by Dan Abnett. This is the most effective of the three stories because it hits home one idea of the original films — to think about how one treats those not human. It’s the story of orangutan lawyer Lucan that buys a human to take home as a pet. Over time Bolo becomes more than a pet to the family and especially to Lucan. The final page is an outstanding gut punch and fantastic commentary on owning an animal. “Mountain” by Phillip Kennedy Johnson is a twenty paged story that takes place after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but before War for the Planet of the Apes. A group of humans lives in the woods after the rising and all is well until a chimpanzee  is discovered at the end of their dock using a net to catch fish. Things happen, the situation escalates, and the ending is beautiful. This group of people could be the focus of an entire series. Overall grades: “Armando’s Tale” A, “Man’s Best Friend” A+, and “Mountain” A

The art: “Armando’s Tale” by George Schall has art that’s the simplest of the book. There often aren’t backgrounds and several panels are obviously based on scenes from the films. The faces are also very simple, as is shown on the first page with Armando. I like how Schall moves the point of view around often, but it’s the characters that are hampering my love of the visuals. This work reminds me of the 80’s independent black and white boom. “Man’s Best Friend” by Carlos Magno looks sensational. Magno has done other Apes books and he excels with fine details in his work. The first panel shows this with a detailed crowd hovering about the auction site: each character is unique and not an outline. He, too, moves the point of view around well and the settings are exceptional. The final image of the story hammers home a powerful message. The final story is illustrated by Morgan Beem and initially I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it. I didn’t think it a serious enough style to be used for an Apes tale. But as the story went on I really grew to like it. It’s beautiful and strong art. I liked the design of the characters, human and ape, and I liked how he was able to make all emote without words. Even without reading the dialogue, Pages 10 and 11 clearly communicate what’s occurring to the reader. The last three pages are really powerful for how and what Beem shows. Overall grades: “Armando’s Tale” C-, “Man’s Best Friend” A+, and “Mountain” A+

The colors: There’s no credited colorist on the first tale, so I’m guessing that artist George Schall colors his own work. The colors aren’t very bright, instead looking as though they come out of a comic from the 60’s. It ages the story for the time period, but provides a very blasé reading experience. Gabriel Cassata colors “Man’s Best Friend” and the colors match that of the original film series: plenty of oranges, tans, browns, and yellows. This absolutely suits the story because one color doesn’t dominate any one panel. As with the first tale, no colorist is stated, so Morgan Beem must have colored his tale. These colors are very much like those found in watercolors, providing a very different visual take for an Apes tale, but it perfectly matched the art and I grew to really enjoy the colors. It gave a softness to the story that Apes yarns are often missing. That said, when some harsh moments occur the colors do intensify. Overall grades: “Armando’s Tale” D, “Man’s Best Friend” A+, and “Mountain” A+

The letters: Ed Dukeshire is the book’s sole letterer and he creates dates, story titles, story credits, dialogue and narration (the same font), transmissions, yells, and sounds. I really like that each story has its own unique title. Dukeshire could have used the same font for every story, but instead each tale begins standing on its own because of his titles. The dialogue and the narration are the same font in the stories, which is something I frown upon because they should be different fonts as they are different forms of communication. There are several sounds in the final story that are fantastic. Overall grade: A

The final line: A trio of tales that will please any Apes fan. Each story is outstanding and only one has art that didn’t live up to the story’s potential. The Dan Abnett story is what you give non-Apes fans to read to get them into Apes comics. This collection is worth the price, and it is a hefty one at $7.99. You get forty pages and no ads. The paper is good quality and you could use that cover to cut a steak. I would love to see BOOM! return with more tales from the time of man. 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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