By Jonathan Edwards
Seeing this... thing listed among the week's releases gave me an immediate flashback to last month and all the mediocrity that was Justice League/Power Rangers #1. Except, there's a key distinction between these books that I noticed pretty quickly. While both are crossovers bearing both companies' names, DC is technically the publisher for JL/PR, while it's Boom! for PotA/GL (this is reflected in the construction of their titles, with the publisher's properties being listed first respectively). My first thought was something along the lines of "oh god, there's another one." This was followed quickly by me wondering who got the shorter end of the stick. Had the deal(s) somehow screwed DC while simultaneously landing Boom! a good book? After all, Green Lantern and Planet of the Apes is a far stranger crossover than Power Rangers and the Justice League. However, perhaps that meant there was a much better reason for it to be happening. With that thought in mind, I went ahead and signed up to review Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1. And guess what? It's garbage.
Nothing about this story justifies its existence. I may have disliked the weird flashforward that JL/PR started with, but that was at least trying to set up a story. PotA/GL on the other hand just dumps us into an opening scene, where, for some reason, representatives from each of the seven Lantern Corps (Star Sapphire, Larfleeze, Saint Walker, Bleez, Arkillo, I think Indigo-2, and maybe G'Nort? if you were wondering) have been captured. We get no context as to how or why this happened, their captor does... something, and then it just fucks off to Planet of the Apes. Umm, okay? Was I supposed to understand what happened? Because I didn't. It takes until the halfway point for us to get some sense of what actually happened. I'm not going to tell outright what the explanation is, but it's a stupid one. What I will say is that it has to do with something called the "Universal Ring," which, as far as I can tell, gives the wearer the ability to use the light of any of the Lantern Corps. I stopped reading DC's current Green Lanterns run after the first arc finished, so correct me if I'm wrong. But, isn't that the EXACT SAME SHIT they just did in that book with the whole "Phantom Ring" story? Seriously, did no one involved think to double-check that? Or, did they just not care?
The problems don't stop there. Some Red Lanterns decide that the Green Lanterns are to blame for Bleez's disappearance and attack them, despite no reason given for the Reds to think that. The Green Lanterns, in turn, make no attempt to diffuse or understand the situation, instead deciding to punch first and ask questions later. And then, during the resultant brawl, Kilowog asks Guy Gardner if he can reason with the Red Lanterns, as he used to be one himself. So, if it wasn't dumb enough that the Red Lanterns only attack because the plot told them to, the Green Lanterns rile them up more and act like they didn't already know that was a bad idea. It's not even like it was a full-scale assault. I count six, maybe seven, Red Lanterns, and they were attacking Oa. I think there are enough Green Lanterns present for them to at least make an attempt at diplomacy. But really, who needs that when you have a talking cat with rage powers?
The Planet of the Apes part of the book feels even less substantial. We learn very quickly that we'll mainly be following the chimp scientist Cornelius after he finds that Universal Ring. However, pretty much all of his scenes feel like they only exist to show us that this comic is basically a superficial reimagining, as Tim Burton might say, of Beneath Planet of the Apes, the second in the original film series. That's just a weird approach to take, especially when that is not at all made clear initially. There's no reason to try and force us to piece that together while reading. Worst of all, when Hal Jordan finally arrives there by way of total bullshit, plot convenience teleportation, we got the most gratuitous, pandering, and a just plain stupid bit of fanservice. The panel might as well have been accompanied by big fuck-off letters asking "get it?", as if we didn't already know the goddamn title of the book.
The art is fine. Actually, it's pretty good. However, it brings me no solace. Seeing all of the visuals communicated so clearly really just make the writing problems that much more glaring. That's why I don't really subscribe to the idea that good art can make bad writing into a good comic. Because, when it comes to comics, writing is only half of the storytelling. And, the other half is art (referring collectively to the pencils, inks, colors, and letters). They can, of course, enhance and detract from one another to both lesser and far, far greater extents. So, while I agree that good art can make not-as-good writing better, I think there's a point of diminishing returns. In my opinion, excellence in one area can never truly make up for complete absence in the other.
Do not pick up this book. Don't even wait for the trade. It's a soulless cash-in, and I'm not sure if I'm more upset at BOOM!, DC, or both of them for it. The whole thing amounts to little more than the half-baked result of smashing together surface elements from two preexisting stories and forgetting to add any kind of substance. Y'know, I can tend to give books I didn't quite care for a second, even third, issue to redeem themselves. Not this time. I don't care.
Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Barnaby Bagenda
Publisher: BOOM! Studios/DC Comics