Daryl Gregory

Planet of the Apes Spectacular 1 (July 2013)

POTA Spectacular nerdist Page 1 1Decades of Apes licensed comics have shown the wide variety of imaginative things a writer can do with the franchise; Daryl Gregory doesn’t do much imagining. He’s got an ape and a human raised as sisters, he’s got a lot of war intrigue–mix of Dark Ages warfare with aged advanced weapons–but it’s not exactly pushing the limits of science fiction comic books.

However, he does what he does do really, really well. I’m not caught up on his Apes series, which involves deals with warlords and petty feuds leading to disaster (and the mutants pretending to be human); he recaps it all here.

He also moves his story forward.

And now for the amazing part–there’s no forced exposition. Not one single line. He infers things, he mixes up narrative approaches, he hints. Technically speaking, Gregory’s a marvel.

Shame Diego Barreto’s art is weak on the humans though.

CREDITS

Writer, Daryl Gregory; artist, Diego Barreto; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes Special 1 (February 2013)

2013 02 11 PoTA special CVACalling this issue a Special seems like a little much. It’s over-sized, maybe, but since nothing happens in it and Diego Barreto’s art wouldn’t be able to convey anything well anyhow… it’s hard to know what to call it.

It’s somewhat inaccessible for a non-regular Boom! Apes reader too. I am not one, for instance. I was able to follow the story somewhat, but I can’t figure out why writer Daryl Gregory thinks the reader should care. There are three factions battling for power in a city-state–Barreto does an awful job when it comes to giving the city scale–and presumably the human woman is the best choice, which seems predictably unoriginal.

Gregory ends on a cliffhanger, suggesting the Special’s not a drawer story being burned off, but a special leading into a new series.

The issue certainly didn’t make me care enough for find out.

CREDITS

Writer, Daryl Gregory; artist, Diego Barreto; colorist, Darrin Moore; letterer, Ed Dukeshire; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Planet of the Apes 4 (July 2011)

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Eh.

For the first time, Gregory’s Apes is completely “eh.”

I never thought of him as ambitious, but this issue lacks ambition to the degree he’s just churning to get a comic out. Maybe because Boom!’s got a dollar issue next, it doesn’t matter. It’s the last issue before an imposed “jumping on” point.

But Gregory takes enough story for half an issue and stretches it. Modern comics are already stretched enough for trades and Apes is no different. There’s zero “A plot” payoff here and, worse, there’s no “B plot.” The character drama from the first couple issues has vanished. Now it’s Gregory pretending he’s doing “Battlestar” insurgency stuff, only with Apes.

Except, like I said before, he’s not. Especially since we (the reader) already have suspicions (ones Gregory painfully laid) there’s a puppet master behind it all.

Magno does some nice art, though his iffy panels return.

Planet of the Apes 3 (June 2011)

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I wish Gregory–and Boom! in general–were more forthcoming. About halfway through the issue, I started wondering if Apes was more a relaunch than just a prequel. Meaning, even though it’s set 1,200 years before the first movie, maybe the movie isn’t going to be precisely how it works. The movie’s got a cheap, limited set. The comic doesn’t… is it moving towards cheap, limitedness or is the movie going to be revamped?

Those questions are important for a movie tie-in book.

Otherwise, the issue’s okay. Except Gregory doesn’t know how to make the humans sympathetic. The humans in Apes aren’t insurgents, rallying against an oppressor… they’re dumb murderers. This issue reveals there’s probably a puppet master, which would be a cop-out.

Anyway, Magno keeps his art consistent this time and it helps.

While it’s hard to get interested when there’s no legitimate conflict, Apes remains harmless.

Planet of the Apes 2 (May 2011)

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Most of Magno’s art is too good for a Planet of the Apes comic. He clearly takes a lot of time and care creating the comic’s setting. So when he has a bad panel, it’s striking, especially since it’s usually something inexplicable–like drawing a character bad when one panel before it was fine or good.

But Magno’s art is a small quibble.

Boom!’s Apes continues to be harmless licensed material, even as Gregory starts moving towards choppy water.

He includes one of the mutants from Beneath, which creates a narrative problem. The reader might recognize the character, but the protagonists in the book have no idea. So the reader is miles ahead of the characters… doesn’t make the drama particularly compelling.

There’s also the more significant problem of the setting. It’s unbelievable apes and humans got along well enough to build Gregory’s society.

He’s writing into a corner.

Dracula: The Company of Monsters 1 (August 2010)

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Dracula, as a vampire (at least, how he usually looks as a vampire), appears on the cover of this comic book.

He does not appear, as a vampire, in the interior.

Instead, we follow Evan. Evan is a naive blue blood whose evil multi-national corporation is going to resurrect Dracula. I didn’t learn the resurrection part from this comic book, however, I learned it from an interview about this comic book. Or maybe a press release. One of the two.

There are some neat ideas here. Well, one.

What if Dracula came back today–but without the Bram Stoker history under his belt. At least, that scenario is what I assume is going to happen because, you guessed it, the issue doesn’t make it clear.

Gregory is a novelist… but Dracula certainly doesn’t make me want to anything else he’s written. His characters are weak and the narration’s awful.

CREDITS

Writer, Daryl Gregory; artist, Scott Godlewski; colorist, Stephen Downer; letterer, Johnny Lowe; editor, Dafna Pleban; publisher, Boom! Studios.

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