Comics

Casus Belli: BOOM!'s 'Planet of the Apes' Prepares for War

Charles Moss
Technological Advantage: In the skillful hands of writer Daryl Gregory, Planet of the Apes jumps from a police procedural to vivid dissection of an entire society.

Daryl Gregory proves supreme in his handling of the hugely popular Planet of the Apes, offering a deep and sincere meditation on a society in the throes of avoiding that has already begun.


Planet of the Apes #2

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Daryl Gregory, Carlos Magno
Price: $3.99
Publication Date: 2011-05
Amazon
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets

-- Voltaire

“Casus belli” is a Latin expression that means an event or political occurrence that brings about a declaration of war. “Casus” is literally translated as “incident”.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in June 1914 by a young Bosnian Serb, which directly led to the July Ultimatum. The crisis came in the form of an impossible-to-fulfill ultimatum issued by Austria-Hungary to Serbia as a way to attack and eventually destroy the country. This was the “Casus belli” that started World War I.

A similar “Casus belli” occurred in Planet of the Apes #1. The assassination of the Lawgiver by a masked human has made the people of Skintown all targets of ape justice. The aftermath in Planet of the Apes #2 continues to drive the inevitable war between humans and apes.

Alaya, granddaughter of the Lawgiver and Council Voice to the apes, has come to agreement with Sullivan, the unofficial leader of Skintown and adopted sister of Alaya. Sullivan has one week to find the murderer before the apes ransack her human ghetto of a town.

In preparation for their retaliation, Alaya grants pardon to a new character, Nix – former friend and protector of the Lawgiver (imprisoned for reasons yet unexplained) – to build an army. They both sense that a revolution is on the horizon for the humans.

Nix is a creepy vision of a gorilla and in some instances, borders on terrifying, which means that artist Carlos Magno and colorist Nolan Woodard have once again created a stunning visual accompaniment to the Planet of the Apes franchise. The colors are muted, earthy tones and the level of detail is exquisite; pair that with Daryl Gregory’s evenly-paced, well-scripted writing and you’ve got a very promising new comic book series.

What Planet of the Apes #2 presents readers with then, is a deep and meaningful meditation on the kinds of actions we take even when the outcomes seem wildly damaging. Daryl Gregory writes with the most amazing skill, recreating the drama of a train crash seconds before impact. Time has slowed. It is easy to predict what has happened, what will happen soon. Yet, like a nightmare, you cannot look away.

If anything, Planet of the Apes seems to be treading the same ground as the 2010 sleeper hit, the Green Zone. Last summer saw the Matt Damon vehicle explore the reasons behind going to war in Iraq in the early part of 2003. A large part of what made the Green Zone such a prominent piece of social commentary was its finding a way to not demonize any of the positions of players in pre-Mission Accomplished Iraq. The Army, Old Guard CIA, Neocon Department of Defense, all held different views on the role of US in the new Iraq.

In a similar way, Daryl Gregory produces some of the most poignant pages when writing about characters who find themselves in an impossibly unforgiving historical path. It's not that the key players in Planet of the Apes fail to see the logical end of the path they're on. It's more the case that none of them can resist needing to take they need to at this point.

Over the course of just two issues, Planet of the Apes has moved from a police procedural to the high drama of the minor heroisms of characters trapped in a looming and inevitable war.

The Lawgiver is dead. Blood has been shed. War is coming.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image