Monday, February 8, 2016

Where No Ape Has Gone Before: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Prime Directive

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Prime Directive
Written by Scott Tipton and David Tipton
Art by Rachael Stott
Colors by Charlie Kirchoff
Published by IDW

Karen: It was almost exactly a year ago that I reviewed the first two issues of this series in a post. I liked it, but being an infrequent visitor to my comic shop, I didn't pick up the remaining three issues in this series. At some point last year I did grab the TPB and over the Christmas holiday I took it from my reading stack and sat down with it. And I thoroughly enjoyed it! POTA was the first science fiction franchise I fell for as a kid, with Star Trek following soon after. As a fan of both, I felt the writers and artist were able to capture  the tone of each to make this book feel like a true meld of the two.

Karen: The time is right after the events of the first Apes film, and sometime during the original series of Trek, after the first season episode "Errand of Mercy," in which the Federation and the Klingon Empire were forced into a peace treaty by the Organians, a powerful race of energy beings.  The Klingons have discovered an artificial space portal that leads to another dimension -an alternate reality? - and have been sending ships back and forth. The Enterprise uncovers this and follows them through, only to find what appears to be another Earth, although Spock's scientific instruments indicate that it is the year 3978 in this other universe. However, the sensors also indicate a primitive civilization. Intrigued by what the Klingons could be doing here, Kirk, Spock and company beam down. From a distance they spy their old friend,  the Klingon Commander Kor, talking to...apes!

Karen: The Enterprise crew soon figures out that the Klingons are supplying these gorillas with firearms. We saw this sort of behavior from the Klingons on the show before, most notably in the episode "A Private Little War." Back on board the Enterprise, Kirk and his officers go over the information they've gathered about the planet, and indications that a nuclear war in the past helped lead to the current condition of apes being dominant over humans. Kirk decides that even though this isn't their universe, the Prime Directive, the order which states that Starfleet personnel cannot interfere with the development of other civilizations, is still in effect. The Klingons, however, have no such rule; just the opposite in fact. Constrained by the Organian Treaty, they must be using the portal to seek out new planets in this universe to conquer or gather resources from. Kirk decides that they have to stop the Klingon efforts on this Earth. They prepare to beam back down and he tells Spock to have the computer put them near some landmark that they can identify. Oh boy...

Karen: The team materializes on a beach, with the classic shot of the demolished Statue of Liberty to greet them. Stunned, they take a moment to gather themselves, then notice human footprints and horse tracks in the sand. Following these, they find the still shell-shocked George Taylor and Nova. Taylor at first thinks that Kirk and company have been sent from his Earth, his time, but Kirk tries to explain, although it's obviously complicated. Taylor doesn't care where they are from though -he wants their help in taking the planet back from the apes. 

Karen: Here is where the story really starts to pick up. Kirk has to balance the need to stop the Klingons with trying to protect the ape culture, all while keeping an eye on Taylor. And that's not easy. Taylor manages to break off and get himself beamed up to the Enterprise. There is a fun fight between Kirk and Taylor -who wouldn't want to see prime of their lives Shatner and Heston go mano a mano? 

Karen: Our two favorite chimps, Cornelius and Zira, are also around, and it's a treat to see them interacting with McCoy, Scotty, and the rest. The first issue was almost all set-up.I felt that by the third book the voices were all there, and things were moving along very smoothly. The art also captured the likenesses of the actors well enough that I wasn't ever wondering who a character was supposed to be. It was always obvious.

Karen: The story may tip a little more towards the Trek side but there is plenty of POTA here. The scenes between Commander Kor and the rogue gorilla general, Marius, are excellent. The confrontation between Marius and General Ursus, from Beneath the Planet of the Apes, is also a highlight, and it feels like we are getting some great backstory on Ursus, who had always seemed fairly one-dimensional. Poor Dr. Zaius only makes a brief appearance though. The ending caught me by surprise, but in a good way. I don't want to say much more than that.

Karen: This  book probably gave me more pure, unadulterated reading pleasure than any other comic I've read this year. The love and respect for both series came through. I would highly recommend it for fans of either series. If you like both of them though, you will truly enjoy this.


Edo Bosnar said...

Thanks for the review, Karen!
Like I said in the comments to your review from last year, I'm really interested in this because it's gotten such high recommendations from a number of online sources I trust (which includes BAB). I'm glad it's out in a tpb - I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for this. By the way, based on the samples you posted, I really like the art. You're right that it captures the likenesses of the characters quite well, and it also looks very natural, i.e., there's none of that stiffness that can often be seen when an artist tries too hard to capture the likeness of actors from TV shows or movies (probably because they depend too much on photo references).

Anonymous said...

It's nice to see that Taylor actually looks like Charlton Heston - in Marvel's POTA adaptations none of the characters looked even remotely like the actors who played them in the films.

Redartz said...

Nice review, Karen! I agree with Edo: the artwork looks very good. This does look like just the kind of fun read that comics can provide so effectively. Also looks like that tpb will be joining my eBay searches...

Martinex1 said...

Edo, Colin and Redartz commented on the art. And I agree. I have to say that I really like the cover that you showed in the post. That gorilla holding the glove would have probably gotten me to buy that issue (if I had seen it). I just don't recall this jumping out at me at the LCS, maybe they didn't stock it.. but it is a great cover.

Karen said...

Hi guys, glad you enjoyed the review and like what you see. I would encourage you all to take a chance on it. It was a lot of fun, perfect reading for a lazy Sunday.

Regarding the covers, there were apparently a large number of variant covers for each issue. I recall seeing a number of them in the back of the book. Some looked pretty great (I thought the cover to the TPB was perfect in both theme and execution); others were kind of clunky. But I could see how some it could also be confusing -which issue is which?

I should mention this trade also has 4-5 essays by humorist Dana Gould. They are of a personal nature; he is a big POTA fan. I found them somewhat amusing. If you are a fan of his, you might like to read them.

Anonymous said...

Cool review, Karen. I might just have to check this out. I love a good ape tale.

But you forgot to address the question I'm sure is uppermost in everyone's mind...when Shatner and Heston fought, did they BOTH end up shirtless or only one? Inquiring minds want to know :)

Mike Wilson

Anonymous said...

Hmm nice review Karen! A POTA/ST comicbook crossover while intriguing can easily go wrong if not treated with reverence to both franchises. Luckily this doesn't seem to be the case here. It definitely looks like the creators did their research and/or were big fans of the two series. Oh, yeah, the artists did a bang up job of capturing the likenesses of the apes and Trek cast too.

- Mike 'until they make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/X-men crossover' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

If N.R.A. president Charlton Heston had succeeded in his goal of arming everybody, an uprising by those damned, dirty apes could've been nipped in the bud.

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