Writer: David F. Walker
Art: Dave Wachter, Bryan Valenza, and VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 5th, 2023
The ALZ-113 virus has rampaged across planet Earth, and humanity is crumbling. While well-meaning researchers hunt for a cure, a fanatical group of humans has their own solution: Kill all apes. Peacekeeper Juliana Tobon is one of the few willing to stand against them, but the crisis is spreading, and soon apes will witness the true depths of human cruelty as Planet of the Apes #1 by David F. Walker kicks off.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Planet of the Apes #1 Review.
Walker opens with the origin story we’ve all heard from the Rise of the Planet of the Apes Movie. However, he adds a few nuggets and names to add a bit more depth. Nevertheless, it appears this comic is taking place in 2015 which would happen between Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Matt Reeves Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which takes place richly in 2021. Therefore, Caesar is still around somewhere. Nevertheless, the focus of this comic appears to be on this specific chimp and a woman who was working with her when the virus exploded.
The premise by Walker appears to be to lay a foundation as to where things are at in this go-between of the movie franchises. He’s giving fans the lay of the land. “Terrorists” concerned about the Simian Flu are ultimately trying to kill any and all Simians. Meanwhile, others are trying to save them in the process who believe they had nothing to do with the breakout. Truthfully, this idea hits home after our recent pandemic. Confusion as to where a virus originated. Riots immediately followed. What course of action to take during and after. None of the reactions Walker paints should sound too far-fetched.
Exercitus Viri means “an army of men” and appears to be the name of this terrorist group that has pockets of people worldwide in order to take down the World Health Organization and even the United Nations. Again, many would understand the premise of feeling lied to, especially on a global scale. And this appears to be Walker’s focus in his opening Planet of the Apes #1. Nevertheless, I find it odd that countries and the United Nations would go so far as to “save the Simians” even if it causes a global war.
Ultimately, Walker has painted a World War but against a terrorist group with pockets around the globe versus the world governments. But how and why would it escalate to that level in a short amount of time? And why would people be willing to die for Simians? I just need more on that angle. Sure, Walker switches the agenda more over to God as the terrorist group says that we are “God’s chosen Rulers of the Planet”. However, the group isn’t wrong… Simians or any animal for that matter aren’t meant to necessarily “rule”. But, regardless of who might be in power, that doesn’t mean we destroy or annihilate.
Yes, Exercitus Viri is extreme (even killing humans) in order to stop sanctuaries and the “spread” of a virus. And yes, the Exercitus Viri are totally in the wrong on the spread of the virus as well as who’s responsible. However, I’m getting tired of “Christian Extremists” being classified as the villains. Walker later elaborates more as to where the stance of those protecting the Simians comes from, which we later discover is for them to find a cure for the pandemic. The irony is that Walker flips the script in Planet of the Apes #1 as opposed to COVID. The World Health Organization in the comic is saying the Simian Flu is man-made and not natural but the public won’t believe that… unlike the reverse of COVID which I found kind of humorous.
Nevertheless, as I stated above, the main focus of Planet of the Apes #1 was to lay a strong foundation as to where we are at in the story and produce a natural starting point for almost anyone to join in on the franchise. You won’t find any wicked curveballs or cliffhangers in the opener. Just enough foundation to see who the “heroes” and “villains” are in Walker’s story. Now, I understand that an issue like this would probably be needed. Yet, through all that setup, there should have been a bit more excitement. Planet of the Apes #1 was very surface level in order to lay that foundation, which again was fine BUT it didn’t produce much emotion or elements to really hook new readers who aren’t accustomed to the Planet of the Ape franchise.
Personally, I’ve always quite enjoyed the franchise so I didn’t need a buy-in. I was already hooked on the movies. So, whether or not Walker’s Planet of the Apes #1 did well or not, I’d probably see the first couple of issues through anyway to see how it matures. Truthfully, every comic fan knows that it’s difficult to judge a series off only one issue. It takes time for a creative team to cultivate its story. However, that’s the purpose behind solid cliffhangers, action, and suspenseful twists in order to keep fans hooked. That just didn’t happen in this issue. The lack of excitement for an opening issue is ultimately the biggest drawback of Planet of the Apes #1. However, the strong background and foundation of the setting should produce outstanding fruit as the series begins to take shape. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!