TARZAN ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #1
Written by Tim Seeley, David Walker
Art by Fernando Dagnino, Sandra Molina, Nate Piekos
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: September 28, 2016
Published by Dark Horse, but co-branded with the BOOM! Studios logo, Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1 takes two great concepts and smashes them together relentlessly. From the opening scene of the horse-mounted apes (lifted almost perfectly from the 1960s version of the Apes lore) tracking down human “beasts,” writers Tim Seeley and David Walker hit the right notes to give this comic book proper attribution to both franchises.
Those humans are corralled by apes, about to be snuffed out, when the crossover swings (literally and figuratively) into high gear. Tarzan is on the scene and his presence shifts the rhythm of the story immediately.
Seeley and Walker could continue straight ahead from this point, but instead they opt to use the opening scene as a bookend for Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1. The opening scene is set in North America 2016, while the narrative shift swings back to Equatorial West Africa 1901. The African tale is everything a Tarzan story should be: William Clayton on the hunt, Tarzan at odds with Kerchak, the Mangani torn in allegiance, and the deepest, darkest shadows of Africa revealing exciting, mysterious beasts.
Fernando Dagnino is on hand to draw those beasts, as well as Tarzan, the Mangani, and the horseback apes. Every panel is packed with detail, be it lush vegetation giving way to footstep or the refined decor of Zira and Cornelius’ abode. The credits page provides a peek behind the curtain to Dagnino’s process for crafting the art of this issue, with gray tones and wash underpinning every drawing, adding depth and contour to the vibrant color work from Sandra Molina.
Molina does present a couple dynamic shifts in atmospheric lighting, including a critical scene with Kerchak that gives the story a slippery time of day. It’s a dismissible occurrence, but it did give me pause to try and figure out how much time had passed between the rich blue-green-gray overcast skies and the lilting yellow sunshine on the following page. The narrative does not indicate much, so I decided to shift back into enjoyment mode, which is simply magnified by the visual output from Dagnino, Molina, and letterer Nate Piekos.
Piekos’ work is solid throughout the issue, from classic, sticker-like sound effects of “KACHROOM” and “BUNDOLO!” being exclaimed so boldly no word balloon could ever contain it to scroll-like captions that add context to Seeley and Walker’s script. The scrolls identify location, time, and even serve to translate Mangani for us non-Mangani-speaking human beasts. Piekos treats the panels and pages as his own, adding to the visual impact crafted by Dagnino and augmented by Molina’s energetic palette.
Taken for the art alone, Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1 is a hypnotic exploration of the unknown and the known, the exemplary and the exciting. There is so much to devour on every single page that this story could go on for seven times as long, and I would have been just as riveted. As it is though, clocking in twenty-two pages (remember when that was the standard?!) and showcasing Tarzan, who was a mainstay of my Saturday morning cartoon watching alongside the classic Planet of the Apes characters, who anchored special television watching events for me, whether the movies were on in the afternoon or the evenings on those same Saturdays, this is a comic I cannot recommend enough.
Seeley, Walker, Dagnino, Molina, and Piekos have crafted a fitting, adventurous tribute to two historical franchises that celebrates their differences and revels in their similarities. I was hooked on the concept at solicit, but reading the actual story exceeds any expectation I had. I simply cannot wait for more and implore you to check the book out. It is wild comic book fun that simply needs to be shared.
The Verdict: 10/10