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Comic Review: Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries
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Planet of the Apes: Visionaries review

Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries
Hardcover | Kindle
Original screenplay by Rod Serling
Adapted by Dana Gould
Art by Chad Lewis
Inks Assist by David Wilson
Colors by Darrin Moore, Miquel Muerto, Marcelo Costa
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Cover by Paolo Rivera
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release date: August 28, 2018

Imagine if Planet Of The Apes‘s Ape City had been a New York City-like metropolis and its simian inhabitants much more technologically advanced. That is what Rod Serling had in mind when he penned a screenplay from Pierre Boulle’s novel for the 1968 film for 20th Century Fox. But the studio felt Serling’s adaptation would be too costly to translate to the big screen, so they hired Michael Wilson (who had previously adapted Boulle’s The Bridge over the River Kwai) to rewrite the dialogue and revise the script to give the apes a more primitive society. Now, Serling’s original vision has been brought to life in Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries, a new graphic novel from BOOM! Studios.

For this 112-page full-color hardcover graphic novel, Simpsons television series writer Dana Gould, a self-professed lifelong fan of both Planet Of The Apes and The Twilight Zone, adapts Serling’s original screenplay, with art by Chad Lewis (Avengers Origins). The creative team used the original 1966 makeup test and concept art as inspiration and had access to several drafts of Serling’s script in order to craft this reimagining that has a story similar to the film, but differs drastically in tone and setting.

Visionaries centers on an Earth astronaut named Thomas, not Tyler as portrayed on screen by Charlton Heston, who crash-lands with his crew on a planet ruled by intelligent, civilized apes who treat the primitive human race like animals. While Thomas experiences what Tyler did — the apes mistake him for a native human; they believe he’s not intelligent enough to speak; they treat him harshly as they do other humans — his reactions aren’t identical and his demeanor is less abrupt. You wouldn’t expect Thomas to yell, “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”; instead, his is an inner-strength that relies on brains instead of brawn, although he’ll use brute force when necessary. He’s a different kind of hero than Heston — not all machismo — and is definitely better in the way in which he interacts with females. (In the graphic novels’s back matter material, Gould said he envisioned Paul Newman as Thomas, and Lewis’s art renders this strongly in some of the panels.)

As was done regularly on The Twilight Zone, Planet Of The Apes used a bizarre, fantastical, science fiction tale to tackle controversial themes like racism, bigotry, and violence, as well as humanity’s propensity for self-destruction. While these themes were present in Boulle’s novel, it was Serling’s forte in these areas that made him perfect to adapt the story for the silver screen and it was his knack for including thought-provoking “twists” that made the film’s ending one of the most memorable moments in movie history.

Visionaries is a fascinating and refreshing “what if” dive back into the iconic world of Planet Of The Apes. Gould’s passion for the Apes franchise is apparent in the way he interprets Serling’s tale, choosing to build tension and craft a succinct, intriguing narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat, while Lewis’s layouts are captivating and engrossing. The dark opening page, which shows Thomas’s ship in deep space in the calm moments before its crew goes into their scheduled hibernation, draws the reader in immediately and is a stark contrast to the subsequent bright panels that depict a catastrophe. Lewis’s panel placement along with Ed Dukeshire‘s clear, well-positioned lettering punctuate the story’s flowing script, while the colors by Darrin Moore, Miquel Muerto, and Marcelo Costa enhance each setting. Also, the page spreads throughout were all impressive, especially the ominous scarecrow perimeter and the introduction to the skyscraper-lined Ape City.

This graphic novel also contains ancillary material, including notes from Gould and Lewis on their vision of bringing Serling’s original script to the comics page; scene breakdowns; character design; an Afterword by Gould; and an interview with cover artist by Paolo Rivera, all of which make Visionaries that much more interesting to explore.

After reading Visionaries, it seems unfortunate now that Fox didn’t have the budget to create Serling’s sprawling, advanced version of this society, which would have allowed for the creation of Thomas, a clearly more likable, admirable protagonist. But at least it’s come to light now in graphic novel form. Visionaries can be enjoyed all on its own without any previous knowledge of Planet Of The Apes, but fans of the franchise will definitely want to delve into this enthralling adaptation of Serling’s original screenplay.

Based on the original screenplay for Planet of the Apes by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling.

On the road to making the landmark science-fiction classic, 20th Century Fox commissioned Rod Serling to adapt the source material. Serling’s first draft, which was drastically revised before filming, is a radically different vision of the franchise than the one the world has come to know and love.

Now, for the first time in any medium, that vision is fully realized as a graphic novel with Planet of the Apes: Visionaries from acclaimed actor/comedian/writer Dana Gould (The Simpsons) and Chad Lewis (Avengers Origins).

This is the world you know from the acclaimed Planet of the Apes film series, but with key differences – Taylor is Thomas, and Ape City isn’t a crude, primitive grouping of huts; instead, it’s a bustling and urbane metropolis filled with cars and skyscrapers and a vibrant Ape culture. In a world where Apes wear modern clothes, drive modern cars and rule the late night talk show scene, the arrival of one man will forever change how Apes – and Humans – view themselves.

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Planet of the Apes: Visionaries cover

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