Comic Review: Planet of the Apes by Boom! Studios
Writer(s): Daryl Gregory
Artist(s): Carlos Magno
US Publisher: Boom! Studios.
This prequel to the 1968 movie takes us over the events that unleashed the war between humans and apes.
I was going to make this article one of those segments “FOCUS ON THE ARTIST”, but then, I went over the comic again and again, and thought it was really not fair for Daryl Gregory, so I decided to review the whole book, so I can pay proper homage to both artists. Be warned: The disclaimer is that it was the art of Carlos Magno what made me take notice of this books.
Boom! studios has been giving this memorable franchise a much needed reboot.
I wanted to wait for the TPB but the art on each floppy that landed on my lap was so good, I just couldn’t put it on hold any longer.
My prejudice towards the art of Carlos Magno blinded me towards the amazingly fine balanced script that Daryl Gregory provided for this story. I love art so much that sometimes this happens, I loose track of the forest for the tree…
This series had a lot to live up to, for old timers like me, who followed and were enamored by the magazine Planet of the Apes released by Curtis, and imprint of Marvel, and scripted by Doug Moench and drawn by Mike Ploog and Perlin among others.
If you have been living under a rock, and have no idea what Planet of the Apes saga is about, you should know that in order to enjoy it you should at least be a sci-fi fan, or an alternate-reality story fan.
The two penny history lesson is:
Back I 1968 20th century fox studios bought the rights to a novel by French author Pierre Boulle. The movie managed to sign up Roddy McDowall and Charlton Heston (among others) and was a commercial success, partially due to the innovative makeup techniques used for the apes, and other marketing ploys.
The ending (voted one of the most memorable film endings in history of film-making) was proposed by Rod Serling (Of Twilight Zone fame) and although it initially upset the author Pierre Boulle, he later went on record stating he wished he had thought of it .
This seminal film originated a few sequels of equal merit and contributing various degrees of social commentary.
And on top of that, Curtis comics published a great comic-magazine serialization of the movies, with added materials to the continuity of the universe, everything with a great pulp-like feeling and amazing black and white art.
So, as you can see, Boom! Studios had a lot to live up to, when it came to hard-core fans of the franchise like me.
Enter the team of Daryl Gregory and Carlos Magno.
Together they thread the tale of those days when humans and apes were living in coexistence, right before the apes took over and enslaved the humans. Daryl Gregory brings such a powerful and distinctive voice to the dialogs that he is a worthy successor of the characters established by Arthur P. Jacobs in his original film. Sarcasm, emphasis, hyperbole, all these emotions come across his characters whether simian or human, while putting together the pieces of an intriguing puzzle the sets the stage for the unfolding of the whole franchise. The audience will never give a second thought to the fact that this is a prequel and we know what the outcome is. We are made to care for these characters, and we are taken in a story-telling journey through the voices of these characters, and those are clear markers of a great story-teller.
Daryl Gregory times the scenes with such an aplomb and finesse that even if he had been teamed up with a lesser artists, the scope of what he is putting together would’ve come across brilliantly and likely been a redeeming value for the comic all by itself.
Carlos pays such an attention to detail in each of the panels of art he conceives, that it is safe to say his art alone could carry the narrative and story all by itself.
I was fascinated by degree of penmanship and detailed work on each panel many times before I got around actually reading the book and discovering that it was a great read also. Remember what I said at the beginning; Initially I wanted to make this a FOCUS ON THE ARTIST segment, dedicated to Mr. Magno
Carlos Magno uses the bacgrounds as perfectly balanced props for the story. The earth, the tree branches, the leaves of grass, all become a living, breathing part of this world where humans have to coexist with evolved apes.
His sense of composition extends also to how he fills the panels. Carlos sees the whole page and knows how to balance the shadows with the simple traces, and creates the rare feat of visual poetry that I very rarely see in modern day authors. This balanced poetry conveyed in the images carry all the panels in the page like words in a haiku, and makes your eye wonder down and sideways, from left to right with the perfect flow of a river that is always there running, but you have stopped noticed because is such a flawless part of nature.
I had a blast counting the shingles in the rooftops of the city of Delphi, only to notice that Carlos had managed to fill the pages in the way that few masters know how to: just right in the right places, and play with empty areas, and loosly drawn segments when it is needed.
Then I passed the page to read some epic battle scenes, and again, detailed balanced itself with scarcity and the rage came across, hand in hand with the brutality of the battle, but I had no idea why I had been enticed so. That is the sign of an amazing artists. I love what I see, but it is difficult to understand why I love it. Because it all works together as one.
Kudos have to be given to Colorist Darrin Moore, for adding greatly subdued tones to this story, and continuing the trend that Carlos set of providing us with under-rated great art that sneaks up on you like a sneeze and leaves a tickle in your artistic nostrils.
I can’t come up with a higher praise for Carlos Magno’s work than to say that it seems like a different evolution on the style of the master Geoff Darrow.
But where Geoff awes with the sheer volume of information he conveys in each panel, Carlos manages a more classical approach to standard comic page layout, while retaining the baroque and detailed style of Darrow.
As an end result, it is us, the readers, who benefit from a more balanced approach to presenting overwhelming beauty in the page, overfilling our senses with details and giving us a rich tapestry in which we can immerse ourselves in the fictional world, and come back again and again to try to find our way in and out of wonderland.
So, on my critic’s rating, Planet of the Apes, published by Boom! Studios gets 9 out of 10 STARS
Another positive review can be found at