In the comic book realm, Planet of the Apes has proven to be fertile ground for crossovers including Star Trek and even Alien Nation (a long, long time ago). But Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes may be the best one yet, even if it wasn’t the obvious choice for a mash-up.
Writers Tim Seeley and David Walker have found a clever way to fuse the mythology of Tarzan and the original Planet of the Apes films which not only makes sense, it also seems to set up a few plot points for later in this miniseries. For now, the focus was on two different time periods: Tarzan’s childhood in Africa during the early days of the 20th century, and the adult Tarzan’s battle against the apes in North America in an alternate 2016.
Seeley and Walker also infused Tarzan and his ape brother, Milo, with a lot of personality. The first issue really shined in their scenes together, even if the events of the story seem destined to tear apart their brotherly bond. One of the biggest changes is that Tarzan’s adoptive parents in this timeline aren’t the apes you might expect. But that change fit so perfectly that it’s amazing that no one thought of it before.
It’s refreshing that the story placed most of its cards on the table in the first issue. We know the incident that apparently fused the two timelines together, the only question is whether they can or should be separated again. There is also a reversal of fortune at play between man and apes, as the apes hunted in the past became the hunters in the alternate present. That’s where Tarzan reentered the story, in a very striking splash page by artist Fernando Dagnino and colorist Sandra Molina.
As enjoyable as the script was, Dagnino’s art is the biggest draw. His depiction of the apes was masterful, and he really captured the “performance” of Tarzan. Basically, his Tarzan emotes, and he had an inner life that came through the art without having to rely on narration or thought bubbles. We know what Tarzan is thinking just by looking at him, and that’s the mark of a great artist. Dagnino’s mastery of expressions also came through with the apes. His skills are very impressive.
Of course, it just wouldn’t be Tarzan or the Planet of the Apes without a little tragedy to get the story going. By the end of the issue, young Tarzan and Milo faced the loss of someone important to them as the Tarzan of the present edged closer to reuniting with someone from his past. As an opening chapter in the miniseries, it was very effective at baiting the hook for the rest of the story. That’s what all comics, not just crossovers, should aspire to.
Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1 will be released on Wednesday, September 28.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 BURRITOS
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Images: Dark Horse Comics