ADVANCE REVIEW! Planet of the Apes #3 will come out on June 22, 2011.
It's amazing to see a mainstream pop comic where women figure so prominently. Of the protagonists in Planet of the Apes the comic book, the three that stick out the most are women: Alaya the Voice of the ape city Mak, Sullivan the pregnant mayor of the human Southtown and the mute human Chaika, who ends up being the spotlight of this issue. The Bechdel Test is a bullshit way to evaluate art (Reservoir Dogs didn't pass, huh? No kidding), but I love to see a comic with strong female leads.
Planet of the Apes #3 continues the opening story arc "The Long War," picking up where the previous issue left off with the Southtown humans taking on the Mak apes at the bridge linking the two areas. The battle ends abruptly, which seems unfortunate, but appropriate, as both sides seem to want to preserve the balance, and the all-out ape-human war will surely end up the climax to the overall series (however long it lasts), and writer Daryl Gregory has more pressing matters to deal with like main plot of figuring out just who murdered the Lawgiver with a machine gun.
What's this? Sensical plotting, deliberate pacing and not blowing your load too early? That's some proper writing I spy in this Planet of the Apes comic, and a lot of non-licensed comics can't muster that kind of basic quality.
Either way, the battle gives us the glorious image of gun-toting apes flying a zeppelin, and I'd gladly accept a standstill battle if it means blimp-apes.
By featuring the mute Chaika as a spotlight character Daryl Gregory not only gives Carlos Magno an opportunity to draw a beautiful woman with amazing hair for someone who lives in a post-apocalyptic age, but also give the reader a chance to get in the head of a character that has so far only held up terse, often snarkily written messages. Gregory also has her speaking in sign language, translated into caption boxes. What I find hard to swallow, however, is that more than one person understands sign language. Chaika signing with her dad makes sense, but her giving the same treatment to the head of the bomb worship church doesn't ring true. I really wish Gregory explored the different ways she could interact with people -- maybe expressed some frustration with her only being able to shrug at people who don't get her shtick. She can write messages when she can't sign, but surely some of these humans can't read.
Between every issue of Planet of the Apes I forget what an amazingly consistent artist Carlos Magno is. His pages are always highly detailed with solid storytelling and acting to match his consistent character renditions. I hope he sticks with the book for the series' run, because so far Planet of the Apes promises to soar like a zeppelin piloted by hyperintelligent apes. The moment they replace him with a lesser artist, this comic will crash and burn like a zeppelin piloted by regular apes.
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book writer, award-winning filmmaker, film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat.
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