Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Terror on the Planet of the Apes

Way back in the 1970's, Marvel was putting out a magazine called Planet of the Apes. In addition to running comic adaptations of the five Planet of the Apes films (at that time), they ran original stories that were only loosely associated with what at the time was Apes canon. The longest-running and most intriguing of these original stories was a serial called Terror on the Planet of the Apes.

The plot roamed widely, and included quite a few science fiction elements, including mutants, aliens (with winged monkey soldiers), cyborgs, and much more, but at its heart it explored questions of race in the real world through the interaction of apes and humans (including different types of apes, and with different communities of humans, some of which were completely integrated).

The villainous Inheritors, led by their brains-in-jars leaders were "living machine" mutants, bent on destroying all life that wasn't mutant, but not above forming alliances with the gorillas who were, themselves, bent on slaughtering all the humans (in a thinly-veiled KKK analogy, complete with hooded gorillas burning down human houses). It was a wonderfully intricately written storyline, and would make a terrific setting for an RPG.

One of the best things about the series, though, was the artwork by Mike Ploog, Frank Chiaramonte, Tom Sutton, Herb Trimpe, and Virgilio Redondo. It's very trippy in places, and is definitely a child of the 1970's. Boom comics, which is currently publishing several Apes-related titles, had originally announced they were going to be doing a reprint of Terror on the Planet of the Apes, but unfortunately the project was cancelled last March, apparently due to low sales. More's the pity-- I would definitely have snatched them up! Fortunately at least some of the earlier chapters are available online in various places, for those who are interested in this fascinating bit of science fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment