Fans of the award-winning Planet of the Apes franchise will be excited to pick up the one-shot series PLANET OF THE APES: THE SIMIAN AGE, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of the first movie. This inaugural issue features both old and new events in the franchise canon, exploring the underlying motivations and paradigms of the characters.
The story is divided into three parts with each taking place at a different point in the franchise timeline.
Mother of Exiles, written by Jeff Jensen, introduces us to Amy, a former chimpanzee doctor who lives on the outskirts of society in an abandoned lighthouse. She and her mate are estranged from the gorilla-led order for opposing their militaristic regime against the humans. But a chance encounter with an injured human leads Amy to question her motivations for living this way: Is it fear or courage that drives her?
Matt Kindt gives us Apex, which details the daily life of a gorilla soldier of the same name. Trained from birth to fight against the humans, Apex has his own life-changing experience when sent on a mission to investigate one of their encampments. Seeing the humans’ ingenuity in creating traps gives Apex a paradigm-shifting idea that could impact human/ape relations forever.
Ryan Ferrier writes the last of the three stories, Cloud and Rain, which serves as an epic prequel to the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The story focuses on two young apes who run across an injured human. They attempt to help him out of curiosity but are threatened by their leader Koba. Koba claims humans care nothing for apes, and thus the two groups cannot coexist. This nationalistic ideology grows throughout the ape’s group, but Cloud begins to question whether fighting solely for your own kind is enough.
Jared Cullum’s illustrations in Mother of Exiles show us beauty in a bleak setting. The watercolor-like coloring helps each figure fit in with the abandoned landscapes. In a similar way, Lalit Kumar Sharma and Gabriel Cassata’s illustrations and coloring for Cloud and Rain use wavy lines and mixed colors to draw the reader into its jungle environment.
In contrast, Apex showcases Matt Smith’s sharply defined borders and Joana Lafuente’s solid colors. These give the reader a sense of the disciplined, straight-forward nature of the militaristic setting.
Ed Dukeshire’s lettering blends with each of the stories for the most part but gets slightly confusing when reading the conversations in Cloud and Rain. This may be due to its proliferation of thought and speech bubbles.
This issue is a great introduction to the wider canon of Planet of the Apes. It’s able to tie three distinct stories together by exploring each character’s established paradigm and watching them unravel though new experiences. I’m excited to see where the series heads next.
Did you like how this issue handled the Planet of the Apes greater story? Let us know in the comments below!