Monday, July 5, 2010

Retro-View: Planet of the Apes #20 (Marvel Comics)

Writer Doug Moench and artist Tom Sutton serve up an odd little episode of the ongoing "Terror of the Planet of the Apes" serial called "Society of the Psychedrome" in Marvel Comics black & white, magazine Planet of the Apes #20; originally published in May 1976.

I never bought this mag back in the 70's and it's a title that I've been curious about ever since. At this summers Heroes Convention, I lucked into a seller with plenty of black & white Marvel mags, and I nabbed this pristine mint gem in order to give it a look see. I'm glad that I got to finally check it out, but this first - of two - serialized stories inside didn't really do it for me. The characters highlighted are new ones that were not featured in any of the "Apes" films, so that was one thing. The other was the drugged out, hippy-style goings on within the titular "Psychedrome" itself. A gorilla general called Brutus is in pursuit of a human Jason and his not-quite companion, the chimpanzee known as Alex; the two temporarily aligned in order to rescue other friends trapped inside the underground facility. The psychedrome turns out to be a crashed alien vessel controlled by a being whose face is comprised of multiple eyeballs on stalks, swirling around a squid-like beaked maw. If that doesn't get your nuts in a knot, the pair must also battle through a squadron of flying monkey-demons. Oh yeah! The early artwork by Sutton isn't godawful, but it doesn't really appeal to me and Moench must have been smoking weed at the time, because this tale is just bizarre.

After a nice article on the special effects used to bring the various "Apes" films to the big screen, the issue concludes with part 5 of Marvel's adaptation of the fourth Apes movie, "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes". Again written by Moench but illustrated this time by Alfredo Alcala, "Army of Slaves" picks up right about where Caesar leads the apes in revolt against mankind, setting up what will eventually occur in the remaining Apes film series. This story was a bit more like it for my tastes, since I could at least remember the original film itself and the artwork was more serviceable and entertaining. This issues decent cover is by someone billed as Micheal McN. (Don't ask me?)

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