Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan has had many incarnations in the past 100 years, so it’s probably time that he is thrust into the far future as a 300-year-old human who, along with wife Jane, encounters a future world you might find in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes, Nolan and Johnson’s Logan’s Run, or Richard Matheson’s I am Legend in the new one-shot comic book The Once and Future Tarzan. Tarzan faces strange creatures big and small, and a tribe of women who speak in a future French dialect, who he assists on their quest. Tarzan is a well-educated survivalist who communes with the animal kingdom–the main element that ties this future Tarzan to the Tarzan of our past.
In a story that is sometimes presents curious encounters and interesting action conflicts, it also seems to be more about examinations of time and place than a cohesive, plot driven narrative. Writer Alan Gordon’s three-part serial, originally part of the Dark Horse Presents anthology series, could stand to be expanded so that Gordon can spend more time explaining what is happening and less time showing images that leave the reader guessing. What we see are snippets of an interesting character, but what is missing is where we are and how we got there. Only through marketing can we tell he is in future, post-apocalyptic London, for example. Yet, this Tarzan has a cool vibe all his own. Artist Thomas Yeates, known for his renderings of both Prince Valiant and Conan, rounds out the classic comic book fantasy trilogy with this Tarzan story arc. Yeates’ color work stands out the most in its subtlety.
The best part of this book is the art design. Yeates follows a classic comic book style which contrasts with current styles of visual storytelling. Images with half page splashes blend nicely with panels in a way that allows the characters to appear to emerge from the page. Yeates’ animal work is attractive, with great elephants, lions, birds, and other beasts.
The Once and Future Tarzan adds to several other recent Dark Horse Presents stories being compiled into standalone collection editions, along with The Untold Tales of Dog Mendonça and PizzaBoy, Ghost, and Beasts of Burden. The Once and Future Tarzan is scheduled for release next Wednesday, November 14, 2012, and will appeal to fans of classic fantasy like Conan the Barbarian and traditional Tarzan works.