If the title alone doesn’t convince you to read this comic, then nothing I say here will either. There is a new vigilante in the jungle. He protects the weak and the helpless. And he is an ape. In a cape.
Do you really need to know anything else?
Apes ‘n’ Capes, by the lovely Grainne McEntee and Matt Rooke, is an excellent example of Dead Universe’s offerings. If I had to describe it in just one word, it would be “intriguing”. The feeling I was left with after reading the first two issues wasn’t quite satisfaction, but rather a desire to continue digging below the surface and get to the bottom of this unique world.
Apes ‘n’ Capes is set in a jungle in Indonesia, in a world where a different evolutionary path lead to apes and bears having the intelligence of men, while humans appear to be quite low on the food chain. Tremayne Primatonics, a company once owned and run by orangutan George Tremayne’s mother, is now falling into the hands of the Sun Bears. While George is not happy about this, there seems to be little he can do at the moment.
Fighting against the bears, on the side of the little monkey, is The Flame, the titular ape in a cape who is quite mysterious, a superhero more in the vein the Spirit and Rorsharch rather than their colourful counterparts. In truth, one could easily imagine the Flame standing atop a tall tree in a rainstorm, peering down and saying “The bears and monkeys will look up and shout ‘save us’ and I’ll look down and whisper ‘no’.” [Note to Grainne & Matt: I might ask you to draw this for me at a con one day…]
Now, as much as I did enjoy Apes ‘n’ Capes, it did take me a while to get a grip on what exactly was going on. Every scene in the first two issues is interesting and executed well, but as a whole, each issue feels a bit disjointed. True, once I read the second issue the first made a lot more sense, but raised even more questions at the same time. However, the fact that I am eager to read the third issue begs the question of whether the subtlety and lack of exposition is done on purpose to keep the reader wanting more. If so, it’s working.
The artwork in both issues is phenominal. Though black and white, there is an extraordinary amount of detail and the visual storytelling is quite effective. I particularly like the small touches: George’s leaf-shaped mirror, the symbolism of the twisted metal arrow, the small monkeys blowing the bubbles in the bears’ jacuzzi through long straws. The art is slick and evocative, telling of a very well thought out world.
Overall, while occasionally confusing, Apes ‘n’ Capes proves an intriguing piece that leaves you desperate for answers to its many questions. Most important of which: who is this ape in a cape?
And if you weren’t already as desperate for Issue 3 as I am, here’s a sneak peek at the brand new character, Wallace!