The “Planet of the Apes” franchise gets another addition from BOOM! Studios and the world is a greater place for it. Instead of simply churning out more stock to fill inventory holes, this book serves a greatly different purpose than the other Ape book. The fantastic “Planet of the Apes” book from Daryl Gregory is an epic with a scope matching a fantasy novel series of major battles and warring politics. This book, from Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, is much more low key. This is an intimate political thriller that’s aimed at shorter character arcs and a lower death count that makes each drop of blood count for more. Both books are fantastic, and Ape fans should be buying into each but it is also appreciated that the discerning Ape connoisseur can choose which one strikes their fancy the most.
“Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes” feels like a 70s thriller with 100% more ape. There’s a low-fi quality to these pages that makes you think of the simmering performances of your favorite rising stars from four decades ago. This could easily be showing at a multiplex in between “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Serpico.” This is the Ape story that doesn’t rely on spectacle, or the novelty of talking primates, and simply delivers a thrilling ride full of violence and deceit.
One good ape has been unjustly killed and another is about to be hounded for a transgression from 15 years prior. We don’t know if Aleron is indeed guilty of the crime but it does seem plausible and the evidence is there. The fuse is lit from both ends and the bomb in the middle is a large one. In only one issue, you are already given so much reason to care for these characters. Their actions, and beliefs, are delivered quickly and effectively and sides are drawn within pages. Bechko and Hardman are building a tale where you are invested and you might not get your way in the end. This is exciting for all the right reasons.
Hardman’s art is a spectacular match for the Ape world. There is character and motion to the faces of the apes and the world around them looks vibrant and lived in. The action sequences, in their skewed panels and frantic pacing, hold a cinematic splendor that guides the eye and delivers impact. The brilliant page layouts and amazing pencil work make this book a showcase of both awesome and storytelling technique.