Shaved Oriental Pirate Gorillas. . .oh my!
Okay. . .I get it now. I guess I should have before, but new arc doesn't really mean new story in this age of TPB collections of series. . .it just means a cliffhanger to encourage buying the next TPB for those not reading the series issue by issue. So my lower rating of last issue for not resolving the end of a story isn't entirely justified, as things pick up right where they left off in this issue.
The insurgency is in full swing, using terrorist tactics to strike against the superior numbers and firepower of the apes. The parallels to the Holocaust become more evident as the remaining humans are branded with numbers and forced to work as slaves living in ghettos or deported to concentration camps. The apes conduct brutal door to door searches for insurgents right out of the Middle East. It's a very dark and deliberate reflection on real-world issues. . .mixing the Holocaust with today's war against terror to great effect. I don't know where it's going, but I can tell there aren't going to be any happy endings here. . .
This issue was particularly brutal and dark. It's told mostly in flashback and tells how the leader of the humans (Mayor Sully) and the leader of the apes (voice Alaya) became friends when young, united through the tragedy of them both seeing their families killed on the same day during a battle at the end of the human war of independence. They are the "Children of Fire" in the title of this arc.
The artwork on this series is still stunning! Of particular note is the battle mentioned above, even better is a centerfold 2 page spread with three thin panels stacked on top of each other of when the apes and humans finally meet each other in full battle. The writing is great, but the art is really the star of the show in this issue. . .
Now Planet of The Apes hits a dark note that should be obvious to even the most oblivious reader, even if they've missed the others. The insurgents hijack an ape airship and crash it into the highest building in the city with devastating effects. The parallels to 9/11 and the War on Terror couldn't get any more clear.
BUT. . .
One little thing bothers me. The tower they crash into (known as the "City Tree") is obviously a run-down Eifflel Tower. But this series takes place in a city called Mak, which is to the west of the ape capital of Ape City (the same city in the original movie). This is shown on a map that the apes look at in a previous issue while they try to find where the insurgents are at. If (as seen on the map and in the original movie) Ape City is near the East Coast ("THEY BLEW IT UP!"), then how is Mak's central building the Eiffel Tower?
Okay. . .that's just a small WTF. Generally speaking, this issue was still really good. I gave it 3 stars for jarring my sense of disbelief a bit with the Eiffel Tower being in North America.
Holy time jump, Batman! About midpoint of this issue, they jump the story ahead by TEN YEARS!
Before that, we see the City Tree in flames in a fantastic opening panel (It's still obviously the Eiffel Tower in North America for some reason, but it's still a sweet picture!) Voice Alaya steals Sully's newborn son, and Bako meets his end. . .then BAM! Ten Years Later! Sully is now the leader of the insurgent forces, Alaya is now the Lawgiver (the Ape that er. . .gives the Law), and her former right hand man (ape) is part of the human resistance. Oh. . .and Sully's son is a spoiled 10 year old raised as a wealthy ape and hating humans.
I found the sudden time jump a bit strange. The writing and art is still great, but I wonder if perhaps things might be going off the rails a bit. . .
I knew it couldn't last. Just as I feared with the time jump last issue, the series has also jumped the rails. A damn shame. . .
Trying to find weapons for her insurgent forces, Sully is taken to a huge Oriental-style shit on the Atlantic ocean and meets "The Golden Khan" and Princess Wengchen. The Khan is a shaved Gorilla. Why the hell are there shaved Oriental Gorilla pirate kings sailing the Atlantic Ocean? WHY?
At least the art is still great.
In this issue, we learn the uncomfortable origin of The Golden Khan (shaved oriental pirate gorilla) and Princess Wengchen (Human woman). I guess it was only a matter of time for a Planet of The Apes story to touch on interspecies love.
Well. . .this series is winding down, in more ways than one. Lawgiver Alaya is the target of a coup and Sully gets the weapons she needs for an attack on the city. Looks like things are going to end on a violent note. . .
After the shaved oriental pirate gorilla nonsense of the past couple issues, this one was pretty darn good. In the run-up to the final issue, Sully is reunited with her son and discovers he hates her, Lawgiver Alaya stumbles into a full-on coup, and the insurgents prepare to take down the concentration camps to bolster their forces for an attack on the city. Thank God there weren't any shaved Gorilla pirates waving their cutlasses about. . .
I was disappointed with the end of this series, to say the least. Not only are we treated to more Shaved Oriental Gorilla Pirates. . .a LOT more. . .turns out there's a whole armada of them, thousands, as the Golden Khan puts it. A giant Armada of Oriental ships filled with shaved Gorilla Pirates? WHY? WHYYYYYYYYYYYY? But that's just left hanging.
That's the problem with this "Finale" EVERYTHING is left hanging. It all ends abruptly with NO resolution. Everything! Nothing! Why? There's partial resolution in that we learn that Brother Kale was behind everything in the series (He's one of the bomb cultists seen in "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes") and when things are to his liking, some more of the cult shows up with a nuke. But that's left hanging as well. We see the insurgency take down the concentration camps, but what happens after that? Who knows? Left hanging.
This has to be one of the worst endings for a series I've seen. It's not even an ending. I suspect there was supposed to be more, but the series was cancelled. I have the Annual, but it doesn't continue the story. The annual is a collection of short stories from various periods of the "Apes" timeline. I see that there are a handful of "Specials" one shots that might continue the story, but I don't have them, so I'm not sure. Still, that's no way to end a series. What if I was reading this in TPB? I can't believe that such a great series completely jumped the rails in the final story arc, then failed to stick the landing on the finale.
BUT. . .
All in all, I really enjoyed this series, except for the final 4 issues. Consistently fantastic writing and art, touching on unexpected subjects for a book about intelligent apes including The Holocaust, Terrorism, racial discrimination, class warfare, and even (I guess) mixed race relationships. It dives deep into the darkness and shines a spotlight on a lot of the current issues facing our own society.
Overall, I'd say that if you are looking for a good political/war comic, then Planet of The Apes is definitely worth a read. Just be prepared to be disappointed at the end of it. . .but the journey there is one of the best I've seen.
And there it is, Boom Studios Planet of The Apes. A fantastic series with a fantastically disappointing end. I just feel sad now. It was so damn GOOD! Oh well, whatcha gonna do?
Up next. . .let's get into some superheroes. Fantastic Four: First Family!
Be there or be square.
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Annual # 2