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Tag Archive: Tarzan of the Apes


Review by C.J. Bunce

Sometimes you ask for something and it magically appears.  Like the new Dark Horse Comics’ graphic novel Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Once and Future Tarzan I originally reviewed a one-shot initial version of this story here at borg way back in 2012.  I liked the retro adventure vibe and thought that it begged for an expanded story.  At last writer Alan Gordon has taken Tarzan into the distant future in a full 15-part epic, as a 300-year-old survivalist who encounters a future world right out of 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.  Tarzan and Jane join a tribe of warrior women on their quest–Tarzan is a well-educated leader who communes with the animal kingdom, and Jane brings her own special skill set to this adventure.

Readers will find a densely written graphic novel with many literary references and a thoroughly researched, thoroughly faithful look at Burroughs’ Tarzan, with the building of a great expansion world for the character, loyal to the spirit of the original stories.   It’s a mix of fantasy and James Bond action, as the Tarzan of the past confronts a future world reeling from decades of mishandling.  Tarzan has been secretly protecting animals, species other humans failed to protect, and Tarzan brings them into this future.  It’s a story of the past catching up with mankind, and a glimmer of hope via the legend of Tarzan.  Can the future still be saved for all of life on Earth, before nothing is left of the natural world?  Gordon’s story suggests the possibility and the story itself serves as its own sci-fi warning to take care of what we have before it’s gone.  The story isn’t dark and daunting, but it has that fantasy adventure tone of the age of serial adventures, peppered with humorous dialogue, too (some of the callbacks to Tarzan’s past are particularly funny).

The imagery of artists Thomas Yeates (Prince Valiant, Conan) and Bo Hampton (Viking Glory, Batman) is gorgeous, and it wouldn’t succeed so well without the complimentary color palette used by colorists Steve Oliff and Lori Almeida.  It has the nostalgic look of Illustrated Classics, but with more movement and action, something that will appeal to fans of Matt Kindt’s Dept.H and Black Badge, Phil Noto’s retro styled art, P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Wagner’s The Ring, and the imagery of The Hobbit artist David Wenzel.  Parts feel like a voyage of Captain Nemo, Captain Blood, Conan the Barbarian, or Red Sonja.  All of these fantasies share the common quest, the world outside of a present day reality, stocked with nicely fleshed-out legend and lore.

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Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes

Is this the era of camaraderie among comic book publishers?  Last year it seemed publishers including IDW Publishing, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Dynamite Comics were able to structure an unprecedented number of crossovers or mash-ups.  At Emerald City Comicon this weekend Dark Horse Comics and BOOM! Studios announced the latest and perhaps greatest mash-up coming our way in 2016:  Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes meets the characters created by Pierre Boulle in The Planet of the Apes in the new series Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes.

You also have the latest high-concept genre mash-up with The Planet of the Apes franchise bringing the science fiction component and Tarzan bringing the fantasy component to the story.  Tim Seeley (Revival) and David Walker (Power Man and Iron Fist) will serve as story writers on the five-issue miniseries.  Fernando Dagnino (Suicide Squad) is interior artist with Duncan Fegredo cover art.

Tarzan of the Apes    Boulle Apes

Note that this is not another “versus” story.  It’s actually a team-up.  In this new version of Tarzan, Tarzan and Ape Caesar were raised as brothers.  They are separated by slave traders, but are reunited when Apes battle Man, taking the battleground from the jungles of Africa to “the center of the Earth,” according to the announcement for the series.

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