In Review: Planet of the Apes: Ursus #6

The source of Ursus's hate is revealed just as he reaches a critical moment in his life.

The covers: The first of three covers, the Regular, is by Paolo Rivera & Joe Rivera. This has Ursus front and center looking manic as he holds a rifle. To his right is a statue of the Lawgiver, bleeding from its forehead, and to his left is the iconic bomb, also bleeding in several places. Both artifacts’ crimson streams are making their way down the cave from the climax of the second Apes film. I love this cover’s artwork and coloring. The Variant cover is by Michael Allred with colors by Laura Allred and features one of the last actions from the film Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The gorillas are pulling the God of the mutants, the bomb, upright, as Ursus scowls and Dr. Zaius looks uncomfortable. This has got some nice details in the artwork, but is colored really darkly; the focus falls on the missile and the pair in the foreground, but everything else is lost in some dull violets. The Subscription cover by Becca Carey is definitely an eye catcher. This has two baby chimpanzees in clothes, one in a three piece suit with hat and shoes, sitting in a chair next to another wearing a dress, glasses and woman’s cap. The photograph begins in a lime green at the top and becomes blue-green by the bottom of the image. This photo is framed by a thick white border with Planet Of at the top left and The Apes at the bottom right. Wow. This is different. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant C+, and Subscription B-

The story: In the present at the Department of Simian Affairs, Dr. Zaius is being told by Chancellor Inez that she opposes the decision to invade the Forbidden Zone as it only a mission of revenge by General Ursus after what was done to one of his soldiers there. She demands that Zaius accompany the gorillas, after all “Ursus is your gorilla — yours to keep in check.” Zaius agrees to go, telling her, “I wish you knew him before, Inez. Ursus wasn’t always like this. He’s changed.” He then adds quietly, “But then…We’ve all changed.” Writer David F. Walker then moves his story to Terminus many years ago. Zaius is trying to convince Ursus and Qama, who is pregnant with their first child, to move to Ape City. He wants Ursus to give up his position as Chief Constable and join him because “…Ape City…is being choked to death by the quota system and old prejudices. But I simply can’t do it alone.” His offer is refused because family is all that matters to the gorilla now. What follows is the last third of Beneath the Planet of the Apes intercut with scenes from Ursus’s past and what happened with his pregnant wife. It reveals why he became such a hate filled creature and shows him, on the final page, making a judgment upon himself that only he is privy. This was an okay ending, but relied too heavily on scenes from the film. The scenes in the past, which have accounted for at least half of every issue previously, only add up to four pages. This lack of new material from the past hurt the tension. Ursus’s end isn’t a surprise for those familiar with the film, but showing more of the building anger would have been a better read and resulted in a stronger conclusion. Overall grade: B-

The art: The visuals on this book are fine, but aren’t very detailed. For example, the first page has a very simple building for the Department of Simian Affairs; it could not have taken much time to create. Neither could the next panel which introduces Inez to the reader. She’s a very smooth faced ape. Better is the close-up on the second page that shows Dr. Zaius’s regret, which becomes fully realized in the last panel. Lalit Kumar Sharma’s choices in this final panel are undone by the thick background lines which distract from the character. Better are the flashback sequences, with the art being much, much more complete. The pull in on Page 5 to an object on the wall is great. The audience that Ursus speaks to on 7 has all the background apes’ faces incredibly simplistic, reminding me of the horrible masks used in Battle For the Planet of the Apes. Heck, even slits for eyes, noses, and mouths are abandoned in the final panel. When Ursus screams on 7 and 8 he looks unlike any time I’ve seen him in other comics: it’s too exaggerated. The illustrations of the mutants are very good, looking like their film counterparts, but that bottom image on 9 looks nothing like the actor from the film. The last several pages of the book are fairly sketchy: for example, look at the final panel on 18 — What’s up with the missile? The book looks rushed on the scenes in the present. It’s decent art, but this book isn’t ending as visually strong as it began. Overall grade: B-

The colors: This is an element of the book I really enjoyed. Rather than coloring the book in solid colors, such as all one color, Jason Wordie uses a brush effect on the majority of scenes in the present, giving the characters and settings a really neat earthy feel. Take a look at the desk that Inez speaks from in the third panel on the first page — that’s neat! I really enjoy the colors for the flashbacks which are lighter and brighter than the present, making the past so optimistic, thematically increasing these scenes. They look great. The colors in the final panel on 11 are the best of the book, visually showing the transition in Ursus’s life. Love it. Overall grade: A- 

The letters: Ed Dukeshire creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), whispered dialogue, yells, cheers, and sounds. I would have preferred to have the dialogue and narration be two different fonts, rather than differed by their balloons and their colors. The whispered dialogue pulls the reader into the characters strongly and puts some intense power into what they’re saying. The sounds are big for the big moments and there are several types of yells that leap off the pages. Overall grade: A- 

The final line: The source of Ursus’s hate is revealed just as he reaches a critical moment in his life. The story spent too long in the present to contain enough surprises for readers, though it is readable. The visuals appear rushed in several spots, but are serviceable. This book started stronger than its conclusion, but I would still recommend this to Apes fans. Overall grade: B

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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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