Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1
Writer: Tim Seeley, David Walker
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Colourist: Sandra Molina
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Editor: Scott Allie
Publisher: Dark Horse Books & BOOM! Studios
A review by Amelia Wellman
Caesar’s birth in the original Planet of the Apes film franchise was the result of time travel at the core of the story. Tim Seeley (Revival) and David Walker (Power Man and Iron Fist) relocate his birth to the late 1800’s, where he crosses paths with Tarzan, leading to a much different fate for Man and Ape alike. Drawing deeply from the Tarzan novels and the Planet of the Apes films, Seeley and Walker run Caesar and the Lord of the Jungle through the enslavement of the Apes, through a century of war, and through the centre of the Earth in Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes.
What drew me (and what will draw everyone else) to Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes is the crossover appeal. Taking Edgar Rice Burrough’s classic ape man and pitting him against the highly evolved apes of Planet of the Apes? Why hasn’t it been done before? Unfortunately, this first issue doesn’t deliver what you’d expect. It’s heavier on the Planet of the Apes compared to Tarzan, but, despite having more from one property, it doesn’t seem to spend enough time to address either side suitably.
Issue #1 left me feeling like I didn’t learn anything. Yes, it’s a crossover that has two properties that have been around for decades, but it should still teach you enough to set up the story. I went in with quite a bit of knowledge on Tarzan, but I’ve only ever seen the first movie of Planet of the Apes. This caused a lot of confusion as I read through a comic that has time travel and some of the highly evolved apes in the turn of the 20th century jungles of the Congo. The comic should have addressed any discrepancies in the readers’ knowledge but it didn’t. Hopefully, future issues balance this out.
The art of Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes is pretty to look at with the backgrounds made indistinct and soft, like watercolours, to convey how big and lush the jungle truly is. There are detailed characters over top of those backgrounds, but it doesn’t have a distinct style or any really outstanding moments within the art. The first issue depends more on words than art to progressive the narrative, so Dagnino’s style is a safe choice. Nothing that special, but nothing offensive to the senses. It’s an area you feel might be expanded upon in later issues.
Wait and See. As much as I wanted to immediately love Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes, it didn’t grab me like I thought it would. The heavy-handed insertion of the Planet of the Apes time/space continuum problems in issue #1 makes me want to abandon the arc completely, as I know absolutely nothing about what’s happening and feel I need a wiki to figure out what’s going on. But Tarzan, as the other half of the crossover, makes me want to see it out for at least a couple issues more. So, unless you’re crazy about both properties, Wait and See on Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes #1.