Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics & Boom Studio
Writer: David Walker & Tim Seeley
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Colors: Sandra Molina
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Review by PeteR
Both the Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Planet of the Apes movie franchises have huge followings. A pairing of the two universes, in an era of cross-company pollination was eventual. The challenge was how to combine the two properties without offending either fan base. Luckily, both Dark Horse Comics and Boom Studios are very conscious of the need to satisfy both the customers and owners of licensed properties with the comics they publish.
The solution to merging these two franchises is the use of an Elseworld setting. This satisfies both the Tarzan and Planet of the Apes purist. In many ways, by framing this tale out of the confines of continuity adds an extra degree of flexibility and joy to this team-up.
The writers of Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes, David Walker and Tim Seeley start this epic with Tarzan and Milo playing together as children. They are nearly run over by dinosaurs who are then swallowed by a hole in the sky. The boys return and tell the gorilla Kerchak, of the event, who then angrily accuses them of lying. Kerchak is about to beat the tar out of Tarzan, until Milo’s mother, Zira intervenes.
We find out that when Zira and Cornelius went into space at the end of the 1970 film Beneath the Planet of the Apes, they landed in Africa in the late 1800’s instead of the United States in the 1970’s. There, Cornelius and Zira encounter and adopt an infant Tarzan and raise him as their own, alongside their biological son, Milo. After Milo and Tarzan explain to their parents about the hole in space and the dinosaurs, Tarzan is captured by Clayton Greystoke while another member of Clayton’s hunting party kill Cornelius. Milo swears vengeance on humans and changes his name to Caesar.
Suddenly the book pivots from 1901 to 2016 as an enraged Tarzan is captured by General Ursus. As you can tell, there is a lot of jumping around in time and in some cases, the stories own reality. It all works because variations in time caused by the butterfly effect is kind of the whole point. Not to give away too many spoilers but, in the course of the tale, other members of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s pantheon of creations also make appearances.
Writers David Walker of Luke Cage, Black Panther and Occupy Avengers fame and Tim Seeley who has provided work for Nightwing, Witchblade and Batman Eternal skillfully combine their writing styles in Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes. They are able to maintain a cohesive narrative even with all of the time jumping fluctuations. Their interpretations of the multitude of characters juggled in the story is spot on. The conclusion is satisfying and does not feel rushed or contrived.
Fernando Dagnino (Captain Midnight, Starman, and Supergirl) is able to draw apes, dinosaurs, space suits and jungles with equal aplomb. His art allows for the credible sense of disbelief that is needed for reading comics. He leaves just enough of the page for the reader to fill in the blanks with their own impressions of the vents.
The colorist for Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes is Sandra Molina. She previously implemented the colors for the Game of Thrones graphic novel. Molina adds a sense of lushness to the jungle canopy. There are a series of panels in the fourth issue where she subtly transitions the shades, highlighting the starkness of loss that are particularly impressive. Nate Piekos of Blambot was in charge of the lettering for Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes.
Why you should buy this book? David Walker and Tim Seeley clearly have done their homework on both Tarzan and the Planet of the Apes. Their fondness for both franchises is apparent on every page. Whereas a number of crossover events feel strained and contrived, Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes flows seamlessly from issue to issue. Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes was originally published as a five issue mini-series and is also available as a trade paperback.
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