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Review: Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #1

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Tuesday, November 01 2011 and posted in Reviews

"I hate every ape I see, from Chimpan-A to Chimpanzee..."
"I love you Dr. Zaius!"

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Written by Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman
Drawn by Gabriel Hardman
SC, 32pgs, FC, SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Gabriel Hardman
COVER B: Dr. Zaius Photo Cover
COVER C: Mitch Gerads
COVER D: Tonci Zonjic
Diamond Code: SEP110880

Hot on the heels of Boom!'s sold out, best-selling Planet of the Apes ongoing series comes a brand new four issue mini co-written and drawn by Gabriel Hardman. Best known for his series-defining work on Hulk and AGENTS Agents of Atlas and his storyboard work on such hit films as Christopher Nolan's Inception, Hardman and writer Corinna Sara Bechko (Heathentown, Fear Itself: The Homefront) bring you Planet of the Apes: Betrayal! Taking place during the continuity of the original seminal fan favorite film, the feared and respected General Aleron finds himself at the center of a conspiracy that could transform ape/human relations! Aleron's journey puts him face to face with...Dr. Zaius! A not-to-be-missed mini-series with story and art that is sure to make you go... ape!


In the original, Franklin J. Schaffner-directed, Charleton Heston-starring, Rod Serling-co-written Planet of the Apes film, Dr. Zaius was the strong antagonist; the primate who served as a major Science Advisor and Lawmaker to the ape society.  He waged war against information, preventing the spread of information about and understanding of humans, who were treated as little more than beasts of burden by the apes. 

He was a rather charismatic villain in the film, which makes his portrayal in the first issue of Boom!'s new Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes so interesting.  At the start of this new four-issue limited series (a companion to Boom!'s very accomplished Planet of the Apes ongoing series), a younger Zaius serves on the ape judicial council and reads the verdict in favor of a scientist named Doctor Cato, who is charged with a heresy described as "defying the word of the lawgiver by teaching his pet human to speak and elevating him to apehood."  Cato is represented at the trial by Citizen Aleron, a former military general who speaks eloquently of progress and epistemology, as well as a just society, and who it seems has much to fear from high-ranking officials in ape society who would like to see such passions and concepts stowed away in favor of going back to the old ways, where humans were nothing more than pets. 

Going by this first issue, Betrayal seems to mostly be Aleron's story, but as the series is meant to serve as a prequel to the first film, it will be interesting to read about Dr. Zaius' journey.  How does he go from the well-meaning, fair-minded adjudicator in this comic to the stern, almost fanatical controller he becomes in the film?  We'll have to wait and see, but Aleron is most assuredly involved.  When possible evidence of a past atrocity commited by Aleron surfaces, it throws into doubt all we know about him as a high-minded, noble character.

All of this is not to say that knowledge of the movie series is in any way required to keep up with this issue (in fact, one need not even read the concurrent ongoing series at the same publisher).  Everything needed to understand the story of Betrayal is all right here in the issue.  It sets up the society and the world very quickly and easily, and gets to the heart of the comic really smoothly.  It's rather impressive how co-writers Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman are able to bring together issues of justice, morality, history, politics, ethics, science, and militarism in such a short space, and make them so resonant in such a fantastical setting.  All of this is helped along by the artwork of Hardman and colorist Jordie Bellaire, who team up to create a lot of texture and mood in the story.  Hardman's dynamic page layouts result in some smooth and compelling visual storytelling while Bellaire's colors ground them in a tough, no-nonsense world that drags its grit from the most distant and aged battlefield to the highest levels of power.  Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes #1 is a very compelling first issue and the next three issues of this story should be highly anticipated by anyone who reads this one. 

Review by: Royal Nonesuch

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