Boom Studios Reviews for 05/16/2012
Boom Studios Presents Reviews of select titles shipping this week!
INeedComics.com presents reviews of some of Boom Studio's
releases this week by our very own comic book analyst Ryan Porter
Click on a cover to preview that issue.
Planet of the Apes #14
5 Stars – BOOM! Pick of the Week!
Man against ape.
Seems like a simple concept and for decades it has been the driving force behind the groundbreaking science fiction franchise, The Planet of the Apes. But while that dichotomy has always provided a wealth of allegories and storytelling opportunities, the lines have now become blurred. The division between man and ape is becoming harder to define through the actions of leaders on each side and the desperate alliances each side will forge to maintain control.
For reasons I wish I could explain, and now wish I could change, I fell out of the habit of reading BOOM! Studios’ Planet of the Apes series. And upon my return this is the world, described above, that I was reintroduced to. Ten years have passed since the events I last read and enjoyed and the world, or perhaps ‘planet’, has changed dramatically. Ten years of relative peace have been maintained though the apes preserve a strong upper hand in this new age.
But what about those blurred lines and desperate alliances? I’m getting there, trust me.
Skintown, the former refuge town for humans, is once again under ape control and is once again referred to as it proper title, Southtown. Driving home the conflict between man and ape many locations are referred to by both their ape name as well as the human name in the comic’s captions, for instance: The Great Sea (Ape nomenclature)/Atlantic Ocean (human nomenclature). A fantastic addition by the writer, Daryl Gregory, to take the reader even further into the division between man and ape in this time of alleged peace.
Now, to those blurred lines and compromises.
In the heart of the ape capital city the Lawgiver, the ape leader, raises a human child as if it were her own flesh and blood. And stranger still, the leaders of the humans find an unexpected ally in the Great Khan, the self appointed King of the Apes, who shaves himself to reflect a more human appearance and his queen is a human.
See what I mean?
Despite the dramatic nature of these proceedings, they are much more than gimmicks and Planet of the Apes has lost none of its drama and potency thanks to Gregory’s writing and the still impressive artwork by Carlos Magno. And below the surface, hidden behind the dramatic, are more secrets and more betrayals. The ten years of peace is nearly at its end, but this time when the fighting starts it will not be as simple as man against ape.
Planet of the Apes #14 will hit stores Wednesday, May 16th and retails for $3.99.
Valen the Outcast #6
There has been a dramatic and welcome barrage of fantasy comics flooding into the market of late. While fantasy stories have always been a part of comics, the recent influx is both noticeable and exciting. Valen the Outcast is a perfect example of exciting – and needs to be noticed. Valen may not stand at the top of the current offerings of fantasy comics but this issue will go a long way in getting him there.
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, specifically its engaging and brutal amounts of violence, then Valen the Outcast will certainly be to your liking. This particular issue pits Valen, and his merger crew, against a group of women warriors that would make the Amazons look like a bunch of schoolgirls playing hopscotch. It takes the combined talents of the group to merely survive the encounter, with plenty of the fore mentioned exciting brutality.
But what is going to help Valen climb to the top of the stack of fantasy series is the strength of character and sheer compassion demonstrated in this issue. Amid the chaos and carnage of battle emerged strong character moments and the growth of Valen’s group, all centered on a young girl. Fiona, a young girl who betrayed her ‘sisters’ to save Zjanna’s life, has no choice but to now travel with Valen, Zjanna and Cordovan. The bond between Zjanna and Fiona is instant and immediately carries much heart and emotion, a welcome surprise in a series like this.
As a series Valen the Outcast has expanded beyond what I might’ve initially considered it to be. So much more than a simple hack and slash fantasy tale of revenge, Valen and his outcasts – especially new addition Fiona (I’m setting myself up for disaster, aren’t I?) have carried this series to unexpected heights that is not far from claiming the top spot in today’s diverse comic fantasy offerings.
Valen the Outcast #6 will hit stores Wednesday, May 16th and retails for $3.99.