Comics Bulletin ran an exclusive first look preview of this week’s release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes #2 from BOOM! Studios. It is exciting that we have the book’s writer, Michael Moreci, to provide commentary on select pages from the first two issues. Take it away Michael!
Hi, I’m Michael Moreci, writer of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes comic from BOOM! Studios. I suppose this is the Troy McClure moment where I say, “You might remember me from…” and go into books you might also know me from. I currently am also writing Roche Limit for Image as well as Hoax Hunters, which recently moved from Image to Heavy Metal, and is returning for a new ongoing run in 2015. I’m half the writing team behind the critically acclaimed Curse, also from BOOM! as well as Burning Fields, forthcoming in 2015.
POTA has been a joy to work on. I’m lucky to have a great creative editorial team surround me, in addition to being able to work in a universe I absolutely love. I’m a huge POTA fan, so when I was offered the job, my jaw hit the floor. Sometimes you get lucky in this world.
That said, I’m going to take a look at a few pages from issues 1 and 2 and discuss in a little more detail what’s going on, sort of a director’s commentary into the inner workings of the story. As much as I love working on this book, it certainly hasn’t been without its challenges. Fitting this story between two wildly successful—and terrific movies—isn’t an easy task, but that just makes for a more interesting process into how this all came together.
I want to start with the last three pages of issue #1, which I think defines the story we’re telling in a lot of ways. I’ll be honest, a have a strong dislike for post-apocalyptic. If there’s anything more barren than the landscape of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, it’s the stories that are trying to be wrung out of that genre. And while the story after Rise of the POTA can be considered post-apocalyptic, it was a priority to make sure that the story didn’t feel that way. The goal was to have our characters, on the apes and humans side (led by Caesar and Malcolm, respectively) not just struggling with the downfall of society and basic survivorship. That’s the story, personally, I have no interest in telling. The setup, for both sides, was to have them both taking steps toward building and rebuilding.
This monologue from Caesar is really getting to the heart of the story, of being aware that without a future that’s more than just “don’t die,” you really have nothing. You need security, family, community, all these hallmarks of the lives we know, that make life worth living. I like to think we live to build up in way one or another, for ourselves and the generations that come after us, regardless of what the world is like. It’s the classic adage of leaving the place better than you found it. That is an essential goal, I’d say.
We see that in this scene, in both Caesar and Malcolm taking risks to do what they must to avoid stagnation and, ultimately, the slide into entropy, or breaking down. There’s no standing pat—you forge ahead or you fall behind. Both Caesar and Malcolm know this, and they act accordingly.
But, that doesn’t mean that they achieve what they set out to. Hence five more issues…
In issue #2, pages 8-11 is just quintessential POTA. There’s no hiding it. The conflict between apes and humans; the animosity for the follower (Pope) for the followed (Caesar).
Now, before I go a second further, I have to say one thing, for every single page of this series: Dan McDaid is a wizard. He has absolutely crushed every page of my script, making it better than I can possibly imagine. His work demands to be studied and appreciated for a long, long time. On top of that, Jason Wordie’s colors are out of this world, building tremendous mood and atmosphere, and Ed Dukeshire’s letters are flawless.
That said, I love this scene because it starts to show the necessity of extending your grasp. The whole making omelettes without cracking some eggs. In a sense, Caesar was naive at this stage of his leadership, for trusting Pope and thinking there wouldn’t be any conflicts along the way. And here you begin to see the price for going after more (as you do on Malcolm’s side as well), whether your ambitions are noble or not. Water always finds its own level—you might win some, but you’ll lose as well. Here, we see what Caesar’s apes lose in their hearts with this forced brutality.
This scene was actually difficult to write, in a sense, because I immediately loved the characters of Fifer and Cora (and still do). It was hard to have then involved with such a gruesome act. Speaking of, Dan’s work on page 11, depicting that fear and mania, is astonishing. I also love how maniacal he makes Pope, blood-drenched and unhinged. I can see the fun he’s having, and it’s a blast to see.
But getting back to classic POTA themes, this is an essential one: loyalty. Being loyal isn’t always easy, as you often have to decide how deep your loyalty goes and if it overrides other virtues. Should loyalty make you forfeit your desire not to harm anyone else? Should it force you to be disloyal to someone else? Does it mean you must do whatever it takes to protect the person and idea you’re loyal to? We see this a lot in the POTA universe, and it extends to difficult societal and moral questions as well, something POTA has always done, in general, remarkably well.
With four issues to go (this is a six-issue run), a lot remains to be seen with the price to be paid for reaching for more and what happens when loyalties become distorted. Where we’re heading is going to be an epic showdown within the apes tribe as well as a difficult road for Malcolm and his family. I’ve just finished issue #4 and am so excited to keep this story going and do right by the POTA universe. The reaction to issue #1 from die-hard POTA followers has been out of this world, and that means a lot to me, as I count myself in those ranks. We’ll keep delivering the goods and, hopefully, you all keep reading!
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