Review: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive #1

What seemed like a joke when it was announced at SDCC 2014, finally debuted this week, as Kirk and the Enterprise crew of Star Trek: TOS crossover with Cornelius, Dr. Zaius, and “Take your paws off me” himself George Taylor of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes film in the team-up that no one expected. While there’s a few things that simply baffle me about even the notion of this crossover, it makes pretty good sense when you really think about, is a solid precedent for more great mash-ups, and issue #1 of the series turned out to be a surprisingly well delivered story with solid art.

The Good

At first look this looks like a ludicrous idea on more than one level. First off, the timelines of these two properties are so complex. Star Trek takes place in the far flung future, where humankind rises from the ashes of World War 3 as the predominant member of one of the most powerful unions on the entire galaxy, while Planet of the Apes takes place in the even further flung future, where ape-kind has risen from the ashes of World War 3 as the predominant species on Earth. Taking the Enterprise to the Planet of the Apes universe brings up a lot of those questions about multiple universes, temporal mechanics, and paradoxes that geeks just cannot help but ask.

Second, why these iterations of the properties? The current reboots of both Star Trek and Planet of the Apes are at a height of popularity that these versions haven’t seen since the 1960s or ’70s, and surely that popularity would lead to a much higher profile for this series.

Lastly, what’s up with that name? The Primate Directive is just as campy and cheesy as these franchises were way back when.

The answer to these questions is: Stop worrying, and just have fun.

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes #1 is an homage to the wonder that both of these franchises represent. Both high-concept sci-fi pieces from the 1960s that were so cheesy they probably should have died way back when, but because of their achievements refused to die, living on to be the blockbuster reboots we’re seeing today. As far as that other stuff goes, maybe we’ll see the Planet of the Apes universe’s version of the Star Trek races we’ve come to know, but it’s best if we ignore all that quasi-science stuff for now.

Writing team Scott Tipton and David Tipton have a firm understanding of TOS and the things that made that series the timeless hit it is today. The character dialogue between the Enterprise crew is spot on, as is artist Rachael Stott’s depiction of the U.S.S. Enterprise itself. Every fan knows this crew, this ship, and this universe, and the creative team nailed it. The plot itself truly felt like something out of an episode of the original Star Trek series, and any TOS fan will be overly entertained with this ish. The Planet of the Apes connections, however, while certainly established, were not the main focus of this ish.

The Bad

The Planet of the Apes pieces of this ish were just that: Only pieces. We’re given the connection between the Klingons and the Planet of the Apes universe in the opening pages, see the Enterprise’s away team land on the planet, but that’s the only Planet of the Apes related reveals we get at all. I understand there’s going to be a big buildup to the overarching story, but this series is obviously a Star Trek book with Planet of the Apes themes, and fans of the latter may be a bit disappointed. While the homage to these old franchises is entertaining and well-deserved, I’d have enjoyed this issue a lot more if it had been Picard, Riker, Data, and the rest taking the Enterprise-D to the alternate universe that is the Planet of the Apes, and my disappointment at not getting to see a Borg-Ape is immense.

The Verdict

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes #1 isn’t quite the peanut butter and chocolate combination I was looking for, but it’s certainly peanut butter and jelly. It’s not quite as sophisticated, with one side almost entirely eclipsing the other, but is still a very enjoyable experience. This is not a Planet of the Apes book, however, at least not yet, and while longtime Trek fans will be pleased, Planet of the Apes fans will have to wait at least another issue to see a payoff. Another thing worth noting is the fact that two different publishers are cooperating to bring this series together, and I hope beyond hope that this precedent leads to more IDW/Boom! Studios crossovers in the future.

Story: 3.5 Out of 5
Art: 4 Out of 5
Overall: 4 Out of 5

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