Our Trek Comics editor Patrick Hayes is back with a review of this month’s issue of IDW Publishing’s ongoing Star Trek crossover comic series: the second chapter of “The Primate Directive,” where the Enterprise crew finds the Planet of the Apes!
Order The Primate Directive #2
- The regular cover, by Rachel Stott and Charlie Kirchoff, has me hearing Shatner saying, “You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to Hell!” Love the iconic statue, Taylor looking like Charlton Heston, and Kirk staring at the ground. Excellent layout as the title leads to the statue’s arm, which leads to Kirk, who directs viewers to Taylor as the final revelation.
- The subscription cover is by the talented Joe Corroney and Brian Miller. Take all my money now! Kor smiles as he displays his phaser, backed by a multitude of gorillas bearing rifles. The Klingon is flawlessly rendered as John Colicos. How could any Trek fan not get warm inside looking at that devious smile? And those apes–fantastic! The coloring is perfect with Kor’s golden sash being the focus and the black and violet of the ape soldiers escalating into a burnt rose sky. This is poster and print quality!
- The final cover is the retailer incentive design, created to look like a Gold Key Comics cover. Yeah, I need to track this down, too. It’s a split photocover of Shatner and Heston with the copy, “It’s the crossover nobody ever expected. It’s a madhouse! A madhouse!” There’s no credit given on the inside cover for who designed this, but they deserve a lot of thanks for going retro… and maybe a little something extra in their paycheck.
Last month I wanted — needed — more ape interaction with the Enterprise crew. In Scott Tipton and David Tipton’s saga this month I got it, big time!
The previous issue ended with Kirk, Spock, and two security officers (Uh, oh. Red shirts…What could possibly go wrong?) witnessing the gorillas conversing with Kor. The Enterprise crew is discovered by two gorillas that were in the trees. The humans make a run for it, giving the primates a reason to fire at them.
Kirk stuns one with his phaser after a bullet nicks one of his men. The other ape stops his pursuit to aid his fallen comrade, allowing Kor and Mairus to arrive. The general warns Kor that such public actions, “could destroy our entire arrangement.” Kor says he can handle things, “I don’t think my ‘friends’ have the stomach for a fight…”
Far from their enemies, Kirk wonders what’s happened to the humans of this parallel Earth. They soon hear a rustling nearby. A quick trip back to the Enterprise to hash out what’s going on and another landing party returns to the surface where they’re set down next to “something more recognizable as home.” Page 9 has them going to an iconic landmark and encountering legendary characters from the first Apes film.
Taylor’s interactions with Kirk and Co. are phenomenal. Pages 11 and 12 are a gut kick as Taylor bets for help, but fans know from the television series what Kirk’s response will be. The Tiptons have masterfully aped (Sorry, I couldn’t help it) Taylor and all of his companions’ voices. The desires of these characters are strong, with one individual on Pages 18 and 19 being passionate.
What occurs on the final page isn’t really a surprise, but it will have readers wondering for 30 days how his conflict will escalate.
Doing the artwork for a series based on characters from a film or television series must be incredibly daunting. The artist must make the characters and backgrounds similar to what fans are familiar with or they’ll be criticized by an obsessive mob. Artist Rachel Stott does an amazing job that will satisfy fans of both the Apes and Trek franchises.
Last issue she proved she was very adroit at creating Star Trek characters who mirror the actors that portray them. Her Kirk and Spock look great, and getting more time in this story are McCoy and Chekov, with the former having a fantastic silent reaction in the third panel on Page 11. I would expect no less from the good doctor.
The characters from Planet of the Apes look spectacular. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans all appear in this installment. They all look just as the fans would want them, with the gorillas on Pages 2 and 3 awesome. The leader on Page 4 is amazing — a reader can feel the visual threat given in the third panel. The chimpanzees are also impressive as they resemble the actors who played them. Taylor is a bit fifty-fifty for looking like Heston, with Page 18 being a good example of page where he does and does not look like the Oscar winning actor.
One nit: when the apes appear on Page 2 they have no rifles, but in the second panel they have the weapons on their backs. I originally thought that the Enterprise crew was surrounded by two pairs of gorilla scouts, but that’s not the case. Some rifles need to be added in the first panel for the collected edition.
Charlie Kirchoff provides a nice depth to the art with his colors. Throughout the book shading on characters’ faces, human and ape, gives the illustrations a three-dimensional effect. I especially like his shadings on the apes shown in the first four pages. He’s also doing a solid job on the backgrounds, such as the forest and fields on Pages 1 – 5.
When the story moves to a cave by a beach, there’s some impressive work done on the rocks, such as on 13. I also like that coloring was used to show a transmission from a communicator. Very nice.
Dialogue, whispers, sound effects, communicator transmissions, the captain’s log, and a “To be continued!” are crafted by Tom B. Long. I am pleased to see the communicator’s transmission in a different font than that of dialogue–very smart and appropriate.
I know it wasn’t Long’s call, but shouldn’t there have been a sound for the phaser’s fire on Page 3 and not just the hit? Another item to add to the collected edition.