Saturday, July 29, 2017

Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #6 Review And Spoilers

Rage, Rage Against The Dying of the Light!

Written by: Justin Jordan and Robbie Thompson

Art by: Barnaby Bagenda
Colours by: Alex Gumaeres
Letters by: Ed Dukeshire
Published by: Boom! Studios/DC Comics
Price: $3.99

This crossover series has been a lot of fun the last five issues. We’ve had a fair bit of action, a fair bit of humour and, last issue in particular, some genuine pathos. The creative team have, on the whole, done a good job of taking some of the more memorable or important elements of each franchise, mixing them together and producing a story that manages to hang together pretty well, while at the same time being very entertaining. In some respects, that’s about as much as you can hope for from a crossover event like this. The big question is: Can the team tie up the various plot threads and deliver a satisfying conclusion to all this? There’s only one way to find out…

Last issue we ended with Atrocitus about to cut the universal ring from Cornelius’ hand only for Sinestro (who initiated this whole mess and has been doing very little about it ever since) to show up and block the downward slash of Atrocitus’ ‘blade’. In an ironic turnabout, Sinestro decides to take the opportunity presented him by Atrocitus’ weak state and tries to kill him with his own construct executioner’s axe only for his killing blow to be blocked by Hal. The other GLs use the resulting argument to recover and turn on the other Reds. Hal ignores Sinestro and attempts to reason with Cornelius. But he’s way too late and Cornelius goes somewhat mental, a fact handily signalled by Ed Dukeshire’s use of red on black speech balloons.

There is an awful lot going on in this issue and it’s beyond the scope of this review to describe it in detail. Suffice it to say that we get to see some pretty disturbing stuff. The fight between the Reds and the Green Lanterns is done pretty well, but in the middle of that Ursus does something terrible to a defenceless Grodd and a ‘Red’ Nova and Lucius visit a violent retribution on the city of the Apes. The creative team keep the action moving quickly, but it’s still easy enough to follow, partly due to some helpful (and well-scripted, to be fair) dialogue from the likes of Sinestro whose “I believe our situation has, impressively, managed to get worse” is the kind of dry understatement that makes him the villain we love to hate.

And he’s right. The visual signs of Cornelius’ corruption by the universal ring – the cracks on his skin that have been obvious for the last couple of issues but no one has actually mentioned – reach their final form and Cornelius’ uniform – and perhaps the body beneath it – is transformed into a sheath of shimmering energy not that dissimilar from Volthoom’s appearance in the Third Army arc back in the New 52. Things take a decidedly dark turn when, their forms similarly changed, Nova and Lucius grab Atrocitus and essentially tear him apart. Gruesome.

Cornelius appears to have been driven mad by the realisation of his Earth’s secret history and that the cycle of dominance involving human and ape is likely to continue. He is determined to end it. Hal, Sinestro and the other Greens must stop him. They’re not faring particularly well until Zaius (remember him?) gives them the strategy that saves the day. The resulting battle is impressive for a number of reasons, but by far the most entertaining – and, to this literature-loving comic fan at any rate – moving moment is hearing Guy Gardner quote Dylan Thomas, albeit with a “fricking” thrown in for good measure.

With the universal ring drained of its power after the GLs forcibly put their chronoscape-traversing devices on Cornelius’ limbs, there then follows a succession of double crosses. Sinestro stuns Hal and takes the universal ring off a subdued Cornelius only to be bound by Zaius and a set of thick leather yellow straps. As far as plotting goes, there’s much to admire here. It’s already been established that, although Geoff Johns’ era on Green Lantern made very clear that the Green Lantern rings were no longer vulnerable to yellow, the hapless Lantern sent by the Guardians to this alternate Earth came from a much earlier time. It is her ring that Sinestro is wearing. Hence the (brief) success of Zaius’ plan.

While Sinestro manages to get free of Zaius relatively easily, he does drop the ring, allowing Cornelius to pick it up, stop Sinestro from killing Zaius and then fly off to destroy the ring (and himself?) in this alternate Earth’s sun. The rest of the issue – and the series – ends on a slightly muted note, but that last page (despite a glaring art error in the second panel) delivers a couple of teasing surprises that leave room for a sequel.

To be honest, I was wondering how, with so many different characters and ideas in play, the creative team were going to pull off a satisfying conclusion to this story, but they’ve managed it pretty well. The action shifts pretty rapidly but isn’t confusing; Bagenda’s art is clear and dynamic, and the script crackles along for the most part in an involving and exciting way. Hal’s heroism, Guy’s bravado and Sinestro’s Machiavellian determination are all portrayed consistently and, although the necessities of the plot mean they seem to drift in and out of the story, the same can be said of the apes like Ursus and Zaius. It’s inevitable, I suppose, that someone’s going to come off poorly in a crowded book like this and it’s mostly Atrocitus and the Reds who, weakened by their journey through the ‘chronoscape’, are reduced to the role of disposable bad guys. That said…

Bits and Pieces:

This has been a remarkably entertaining series and this issue is a fitting ending to a story that has not only been, for the most part, coherent, but has also featured enough twists and turns to keep the most jaded (hah!) Green Lantern fan happy. It’s not been a monumental series, by any means, but it’s been fun and exciting and, for a crossover book like this, I’d say that’s job done.


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