Matt Reeves' War for the Planet of the Apes is attracting optimistic early reviews, and Apes fans are going bananas waiting for it to arrive July 14.
To bridge the gulf between the events of the new sequel and 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Boom! Studios is releasing a four-issue prequel mini-series to fill in the gaps. This prelude title is written by Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes' David F. Walker, with art by Jonas Scharf (Sons of Anarchy).
It's must-read material for any enthusiasts of Walker's solid work or impatient aficionados of the Hollywood sci-fi films dating back to the 1968 Franklin Schaffner-directed original starring Charlton Heston. Issue #1 of Boom!'s big backstory buildup to the epic Apes vs. Humans battle leaps into comic shops on July 12.
Here's the solicitation synopsis:
This limited series is an original story set between 20th Century Fox's films, 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes. The events in this issue take place before the tie-in novel, War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations. As Caesar and his apes recoup and recover after the Kubo-led attack on the human compound in San Francisco, the military begins moving in.
Check out our exclusive interview with Walker and a five-page preview of Scharf's gorgeous art, complemented by Jason Wordie's sharp coloring, and then let us know if this is a summer treat you can't resist.
How did this new Apes prequel project with BOOM! come about?
DAVID F. WALKER: I was co-writing Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes with Tim Seeley when I met editors Dafna Pleban and Alex Galer from BOOM! I casually mentioned my love of the Planet of the Apes franchise, which led to one of those super nerd bonding moments. From there, we started talking about POTA ideas, and one thing led to another.
What can readers expect from this "bridging" miniseries, and how will it help prepare them for Matt Reeves' War for the Planet of the Apes?
They can expect to see a bigger picture of how the Simian Flu has impacted the country. All three films have been located in a very specific region, and I wanted to take a look at what is going in other areas—explore how other people have dealt with the devastation brought on by the plague. Honestly, after I read the screenplay for War for the Planet of the Apes, I felt like I didn’t want to try to compete with that story—the script is absolutely amazing. And I loved Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as well. But those are films, these are comics, and as a creator, I want to push myself to do the best I can and bring something new and exciting to this extension of the POTA world. In this series, we’ll see characters from the new movie, and get some backstory that builds on how they get to where they are in the new movie. At the same time, we meet characters never seen in the films, and get an expansion to the world that has been so brilliantly realized in the films.
Did Reeves have any contributions or input for your latest comic?
Not that I’m aware of, but there were notes from Fox, and he may or may not have been part of that process. Reeves and his team have put together an amazing film, and that is contribution enough. In this game, much of it is playing around with what other people have done. There is a lot of rich material that’s been presented on the screen, and without that, I wouldn’t be writing the comic.
Your Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes series with Tim Seeley was a huge hit, and one of my favorites of last year. What were the challenges and rewards for this in-continuity series filling in the gaps between films?
Well, for one thing, that gig led to this gig, so that is an incredible reward. Beyond that, Planet of the Apes is my absolute favorite franchise of all time. As for the challenges ... the biggest challenge for me is to make sure I’m involved in the creation of quality work. There is a rich legacy you must adhere to, and history to take into consideration.
With Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes, Tim and I were playing around in multiple worlds, combining them into what amounts to another reality, where the rules of both still existed. That isn’t always easy—honoring two completely different franchises, while trying make them work together. But we worked hard, and with the help of [Dark Horse] editor Scott Allie, I think we did some really interesting work. Scott brought me in on the project because he knew that I’m a POTA fanatic, and with that I brought this ridiculous amount of insight in the original film series, and how we could play around with themes and elements from those films.
What is it about the Planet of the Apes movies, comics, toys and games that resonates so strongly with fans?
Planet of the Apes is about oppression and alienation, and that feeling like the world is out to keep you down. The films are all quite subversive—they are about challenging prejudice and destroying the dominant paradigm. The original films are very much a product of Vietnam War-era America, and a distrust of systems of oppression. Plus, talking apes are totally badass.
This latest Apes-centric comic is graced with art by Jonas Scharf. How is his particular style and tone perfect for the project?
I’ve never met Jonas, nor have we had any direct contact. This is very much a case of two creators working together by way of a great editorial team. All of that said, Jonas is incredible. His art brings both the thunder and the lightning. His storytelling is incredible. Honestly, his visuals are so strong, you could “read” the book just by looking at the pictures. I actually asked my editors if we could just get rid of all the words, because they aren’t needed to understand the story—it is all there in the images. The words are merely the seasoning on a story that is visually a complete meal.
What was the most fun about playing in the Planet of the Apes sandbox, and do you anticipate more Ape adventures in the future?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of my favorite childhood characters and franchises, but Planet of the Apes is the pinnacle of my dream-come-true projects in the world of comics. There is nothing I’ve wanted to do more, and the kid in me is very happy. BOOM! and I are talking about more POTA stories, set in different parts of that world. Don’t be surprised if you see me writing something connected to the original films, and to be honest, I’d love to do something with the characters from the short-lived television series from the early 1970s. But for now, it’s all about War for the Planet of the Apes. I’m just humbled and thankful to have this opportunity to be part of something that I think is a truly quality project.