Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1
Story by Robbie Thompson
Written by Justin Jordan
Art by Barnaby Bagenda and Alex Guimaraes
Lettering by Ed Dukeshire
Published by BOOM! Studios/DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Ring-slinging ensues in the debut of Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1, a joint venture from BOOM! Studios and DC Comics. Set mere days after the finale of the first Planet of the Apes film, the gentle Cornelius stumbles upon a forgotten relic from man’s world that may upset the balance of the Apes’ world. Meanwhile, a universe away, Hal Jordan and his fellow Green Lanterns are still warring with the spectrum colors as Lanterns from across all corps are going missing.
Writers Robbie Thompson and Justin Jordan adapt well to the verbose voice of Cornelius as well as the frat-brother wit of Hal Jordan as he and the rest of Corps rib each other mid-mission - while their overall plot is tied tightly to the canon of the original films, it's not so prosaic that non-fans find themselves lost. Penciler Barnaby Bagenda and colorist Alex Guimaraes give this debut issue a dusty, almost airbrush like look peppered with a wide range of character emotions as well as a small taste of what the pair are capable of from an action standpoint. Though the actual crossing over will have to wait until next issue, Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1 rises above the novelty of name recognition crossovers to deliver solid sci-fi storytelling wrapped in a richly drawn and colored package.
Both Cornelius and Hal Jordan have problems. On the Ape world, Cornelius is searching for his lost friend Taylor, but instead he finds a ring that radiates with random spectrum color powers. Lightyears away across time, Hal Jordan, along with veteran Lanterns like Kilowog and Guy Gardner, is facing down a Red Lantern assault on Oa; the reason for the attack being the Reds claiming that the Guardians had kidnapped Red Lantern Bleeze. Working from a story developed by Robbie Thompson, writer Justin Jordan thankfully avoids getting bogged down in the minutiae and instead structures this debut with concurrent storylines, waiting for the best possible moment to intersect them.
While that makes this debut a bit slow-going at first, Jordan’s restraint keeps the plot clear and allows the characters to shine through, giving this debut a much needed base line before the real crazy stuff starts to happen. And crazy stuff does indeed happen by the time the final panel hits. After slipping through a time vortex, much like Taylor in the original film, with Sinestro in tow, Hal finds himself stranded on the Ape world, unaware of where he is and without backup. Jordan even supplants Cornelius and his new unpredictable power ring in the middle of a group of people who will be very familiar to Apes fans in a turn of events that is sure to cause all sorts of color coded insanity in later issues. Basically, readers may come for the name recognition or the novelty of mashing these characters together, but they will stay thanks to Justin Jordan’s smartly constructed take on the Lanterns and the apes.
Aiding in that well intentioned story assembly are artists Barnaby Bagenda and Alex Guimaraes. Bagenda’s sketchy pencils give even the scenes set in the vastness of space a sort of heat haze, almost like a filter positioned on top of his pages, instantly setting it apart from the detailed, action oriented pencils of the main Green Lantern titles. Bagenda, like Jordan, focuses more on the characters and their emotional states throughout, allowing characters like Zira and Cornelius to emote better than they ever could have on screen, finally allowing them to look like characters instead of actors in rubber masks. Colorist Alex Guimaraes is a fantastic partner for Bagenda as his colors accentuate the haziness of his pencils and make the plasmatic energy of the Lanterns pop from the page, especially when set against the inky black of space and the sun baked and reddened clay of the Apes’ Earth.
Though it isn’t the most explosive of starts, Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1 succeeds by presenting its debut with a smart focus and plot construction that is sure to please both Lantern fans and Ape enthusiasts of all stripe. Robbie Thompson, Luther Strode scribe Justin Jordan, Barnaby Bagenda, and Alex Guimaraes use the solid groundwork of the original film as well as the sprawling science fiction of the Lantern titles to deliver a story that delivers the best of both worlds without being fenced in by them. Crossovers are part and parcel of the comics industry and have been for ages, but thankfully Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1 does more than just coast on its established IPs.