March 19, 2012

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Single Minded: Exile of the Planet of the Apes #1 and Elric The Balance Lost #9

Generally speaking, the only thing on most people's minds on Monday is having to go back into work.  Let's change that by getting Single Minded about two of Boom! Studios' recent releases...

Exile on the Planet of the Apes #1.  Written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman.  Illustrated by Marc Laming.


In the aftermath of the events of portrayed in Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, Ape society is still reeling from its effects.  Humankind is persecuted ever further, despite the death of the rogue human who could communicate via sign, Tern.  But when raids on ape cities intensify and rumors of Tern's survival arrive on their heels, those involved in the crisis of two years before are placed under watch.  Can ape society survive this new challenge, that may just be coming from their own ranks?  Find out in this new series set in the world of the Planet of the Apes!

Regular readers know I was a huge fan of the first mini-series I read by Hardman and Bechko, which lured me into this new world of the Planet of the Apes and made me a huge fan of both the comics and even the movie, which I watched recently.  This new mini-series picks up where the other left off, but there are enough helpful clues to new readers to prevent it from requiring you to read the trade version of Betrayal (though you should, because it's excellent).  All of the changes and events shown in this first issue not only logically follow what happened, they set of what looks to be an explosive conflict as the various players learn just who is involved in this new attack on ape society.  The final page reveal, though I was expecting it, loses none of its power by being a logical progression.  In fact, I think it grows stronger as a result.

Marc Laming takes over on art here, and he doesn't miss a beat.  Drawing in a style similar to Hardman, Laming's apes show great variety and emotion, the world is given quite a bit of depth, and the action is paced perfectly to the story told by Bechko and Hardman.  There is so much detail that it's easy to linger, looking at this planet and how it effects those who live on it.  I'm glad to see this story get such a great artist who can create his own take on the Apes universe yet keep it within the same boundaries as set up by Hardman in the earlier mini.

Exile looks to be another spectacular, suspenseful series, and I can't wait for the rest of the issues to be printed.  I have a feeling Betrayal might get competition on my Best of... list by its own sequel.

Elric The Balance Lost #9.  Written by Chris Roberson.  Illustrated by Francesco Biagini.


Elric and his companions are on the living ship, headed to the heart of the problems that plague the multiverse and threaten to end the balance forever.  But can even they stop what awaits them, if the very powers of Chaos and Order were unable to do so?  The stage is set for a battle to preserve all existence in this start to another arc of Elric The Balance Lost.

This issue is a bit of a breather from the action that marked the prior few issues.  Roberson needs to set up the big battle to come and give the reader a bit of an explanation.  As such, this issue suffers a little bit from being exposition-heavy, though it's very clever writing.  If you are invested in the story already, which by this point you either are or are no longer reading, then it's a solid world-building issue.  On the other hand, though it is the start of a new arc, I don't know that I'd recommend coming into this one cold.  I think you need to care about Elric, his companions, and the fate of the world in order to care about what Roberson is telling us here, but maybe that's just me.

Building around Roberson's wall of words is yet another great use of the comic page by Biagini.  Once again, he's using panel borders that take their cue from action, characters, or icons within the larger story.  His ship interiors are creepy, intricate, and some of the best I've ever seen in a science fiction setting.  I look at them and I see a creature that looks like it can be both alive and yet serving as a transport.  By the time we get to the villains at the climax, I've had a visual tour de force that amazes me again and again, issue in and issue out.  While P. Craig Russell can never be topped as an Elric illustrator, Biagini is a worthy successor.

The Balance Lost remains a favorite of mine as well, and I can't wait to see what happens next, in an issue that I'm sure will feature more fighting now that we've arrived on what I expect to be the final battlefield.

I hope this got you in a new mindset for your Monday!  Thanks as usual to Boom! for the review copies.  If you are interested in having your comic reviewed by me, please contact me at trebro@gmail.com.