Published on November 26th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – Review
To coincide with the release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on DVD this week, Boom! Studios release the first part of their tie in comic book series. I’ve been waiting for ages to get my dirty paws on a new Ape comic and this new miniseries doesn’t disappoint.
Set in the new movie’s continuity, the narrative follows two lead characters as they try to rebuild their lives in the new world order where a colony of free Apes have set up home just outside San Francisco and the human population has been decimated by a deadly contagion. First the reader is introduced to the human Malcolm, whose engineering mind is trying to restart a massive electricity generator with the aid of his wife, Rita. During the switch on process, Malcolm is almost killed when Rita doubles up in agony with the first bloody signs of the contagion. To protect her family from worry and possible grief, she keeps her illness a secret until a potentially fatal situation forces her to reveal her health issues. In a fairly invasive and brutal moment, and to protect her son Alex, she sneezes blood into the face of an assailant. On the surface this action is just a little disgusting but in the light of her illness and the way that it spreads, this is as good as killing the man. A decision is made after this event and the family set off on a mission to find civilisation and a cure for Rita.
Elsewhere Caesar is trying to come to terms with his own situation. Two years after the initial escape from captivity, as seen in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the ape community has done little more than survive. Maurice, the orang-utan, thinks that their community has done well to survive two winters in the forest, especially since he believes that ‘Apes are stupid’. But this is not a sentiment shared by Caesar. The leader of the Apes knows that to survive beyond their generation the community needs to expand beyond the clearing in the forest. Things are made more complicated by the aggressive nature of some of the other escapees, especially Pope, who appears to be training an army.
This comic is about world building, and not in the usual sense that I use that phrase but actual world building. The two central characters have come through a world shattering disaster and want to create a new, safe environment for their families. Michael Moreci, writer of the excellent series Roche Limit, uses the character archetypes created for the movies and runs with them allowing different aspects of them to be revealed. He portrays Caesar as a political figure stuck in a difficult position between doing what his followers want and what he knows is best for the communities. A similar dilemma is faced by Malcolm who must choose between doing the best for his family in the present and what he knows they must do to survive in the future. The tormented and torn leader role is nothing new, I’m currently reading Paul of Dune and there are many similarities between the leaders in Dawn and Muad’Dib. Their paths run the same course but Moreci incorporates these characteristics into an established and recognisable setting with a natural and seamless ease.
Some of the success for this is obviously down to Dan McDaid‘s work as he manages to capture the complex emotions of the lead apes so succinctly. There are moments where Caesar’s eyes alone tell you everything you need to know about the thought process within his head, just as they managed to do this in the films. He also imbues them with a humanity that isn’t always visible in their outward appearance so that the reader feels for Caesar as much as he does for Malcolm.
The essence of this story is the need for survival and Moreci highlight’s this natural urge by showing that both Human and Ape strive for the same thing. This is an excellent first issue that introduces the major characters and themes for the series in an entertaining way. Even if you’ve not seen the movies there is enough information in this issue for you to follow the plot.
Title: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Dan McDaid