For the sake of this review, I’m going to say there are two types of comic book readers: those who value continuity and those who couldn’t care less as long as the story’s good. When it comes to my favorite properties, I definitely fall into the first category. For this reason, I’ve never cared too much for out-of-continuity crossovers between franchises.
For example, I was there when the X-Men met the original Star Trek crew, and there again when Marvel’s mutants met the Next Generation bunch. I even bought a book that brought Wolverine and Image Comics’ Badrock together, even though I can’t for the life of me remember what a Badrock is.
These types of crossovers are fine in a fanfictiony kind of way, but are they necessary? Are these stories that need to be told or just a way for publishers to make some extra cash from die-hard fans of multiple franchises? I’m not sure if Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes was a passion project or something Dark Horse Comics and BOOM! Studios demanded. All I know is it’s here, and as AiPT!’s resident POTA expert, it’s my job to tell you whether it’s worth your hard-earned $3.99.
Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1 (Dark Horse Comics/BOOM! Studios)
It wouldn’t be fair to let my personal bias toward crossovers influence my review, so I’m putting that aside. Right off the bat, I’m just going to say if you’re a fan of either Tarzan or the POTA franchise, you’ll have the most fun reading this title, written by Tim Seeley and David Walker with art by Fernando Dagnino.
I’ll admit, I don’t know much about Tarzan and his history (really regretting not seeing that Alexander Skarsgård Tarzan movie this past summer (not really)). But, as I said before, I am a POTA fan. I’ve got the five films from the original cinematic series on Blu-ray (along with the two most recent), the NECA action figures and even a framed Conquest of the Planet of the Apes poster on my bedroom wall. So for me, reading this book was akin to a Marvel Zombie spotting Easter eggs throughout a Marvel movie.
Looking at the comic’s cover, you may wonder what kind of ridiculous plot device the creators use to bring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ king of the jungle and Pierre Boule’s evolved apes together in one title. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was not only clever, but also completely plausible in the original POTA universe, where it’s possible to travel through time.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the second film in the series, ended with the destruction of Earth. In the third entry, Escape From the Planet of the Apes, we learn that Cornelius, his wife Zira and Dr. Milo made it off the Earth before it exploded, but ended up traveling back in time to the early 1970s.
But what if the chimpanzees’ spacecraft went further back in time to the early 1900s? And what if Cornelius and Zira ended up raising not just a young ape, named after their late friend Dr. Milo (a plot point pulled directly from Escape), but a human child as well? It’s Tarzan’s origin with a sci-fi twist–instead of being raised by apes, he’s being raised by hyper-evolved apes from the future!
It’s a fun concept that honors these characters’ rich histories while also turning things on their head. There’s also an appearance by General Ursus. Love me some General Ursus.
Seeley and Walker do a fine job of nailing these classic characters’ voices. As Cornelius and Zira are both levelheaded scientists, they’re the perfect chimpanzees to walk us through this new world, where they live alongside Tarzan’s Mangani apes. Can they prevent the apocalyptic future they come from, or does time always reach the same conclusion? We get something of an answer by the end of this issue.
Dagnino’s dynamic pencils and lush jungle landscapes provide the cinematic feel Tarzan and the POTA characters deserve. His take on Zira especially reminded me of some of Stuart Immonen’s character work.
I also want to commend Dagnino for nailing the look of the apes. POTA simians have a very specific look that’s instantly recognizable. And yet, it’s a look that’s very difficult to draw. Just take a look at some of Marvel Comics’ covers for its Adventures on the Planet of the Apes comics. Yeesh.
So, is Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes worth your $3.99? If stories don’t have to be canon or carry long-lasting ramifications for you to enjoy them, then yes. This comic reminds me of those Secret War tie-in books Marvel released, where creators were able to put new spins on classic arcs.
You’ll never see Tarzan battle ape soldiers on the big screen, so enjoy it here, free of the major studio intervention that’s become all too common in modern blockbusters.