Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes hit its mid-point and continues to tell a great story. It blends not only the two initial sources but an addition from the Edgar Rice Burroughs canon: Pelludicar. This series really shouldn’t work. It is pulling together two different sources that are only tied by a single word: Apes. But David Walker (Cyborg, Army of Dr. Moreau) and Tim Seeley (Grayson, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero) manage to merge these elements into a great story line.
At this point, the series (issue 3 of 5) is like the best of my childhood story mash-ups. We have Tarzan. We have the Apes. We have dinosaurs. Now with issue three, we have cave men and intelligent, telepathic pterosaurs. There is a 12-year-old me squeeing for joy and running around my brain, right now.
Tarzan, who was raised by Cornelius and Zira among the apes, returned to Africa with his cousin William Clayton. Clayton made his fortune enslaving Mangani, the intelligent apes that took in both Tarzan and the apes from the future. They are there to prevent a war between the humans and apes, now led by his step-brother Caesar. The apes and humans clash on their initial meeting, but join forces when both are attacked by dinosaurs. This turns out to be a distraction as the Mahar (the telepathic pterosaur-men) have a different target: Zira and the ape city.
The ape army led by Caesar and Tarzan, follow the dinosaurs back to Pelludicar, the world that exists in the earth’s core. On their way they meet a tribe of Neanderthals, a human explorer and Dr. Milo, the third ape that escaped the world’s destruction in the distant future. Dr. Milo explains that when the apes traveled back in time, they fractured the timeline and opened portals from Pelludicar to all the possible time lines. The Mahar are using these portals to conquer all the possible worlds. The apes and humans must work together to stop them.
Does this all make sense? No. Do I care? No! (Twelve-year-old me has seized control.)
Walker and Seeley have managed to bring these disparate elements together and forged a story with characters that I care about. Even the minor characters are given reasons for their actions. The death of Zira was touching. The anger of the apes towards the humans is justified and leads to their resentment of Tarzan. Enough of the story hangs together that readers should be willing to accept the weirder elements from both the Planet of the Apes and Tarzan. (And this series reminded of how strange Edgar Rice Burroughs’ imagination truly was.)
Fernando Dagnino’s (Justice League: Generation Lost, Suicide Squad) pencil and ink skills get a real workout depicting all of these different environments. The jungle, the ape city, the desert of Pelludicar and the Mahar city all look amazing and different. I love how he is able to give the apes real emotional expressions without making them look human. The fights are dynamic, but the action always remains clear.
My one complaint with the series is that the first issue had a story line set in a different timeline where Tarzan protects the humans from the apes on the Planet of the Apes. This story seems to have been dropped from the second and third issues. I am hopeful that Walker and Seeley can tie that thread back in. They have two issues left.
- Writer: Tim Seeley, David Walker
- Artist: Fernando Dagnino
- Colorist: Sandra Molina
- Cover Artist: Duncan Fegredo