Rich Handley Author and Editor

Throwbook Thursday—Planet of the Apes Archive, Volumes One to Four

I’ve been highlighting books I’ve written, edited, or contributed to throughout my career, with a new entry posted every Thursday. It’s “Throwbook Thursday,” ya’ll! (But please do not throw books. It can hurt someone and damage the books.)

I’ve been a Planet of the Apes fan since I was a child, when my mom and I used to watch the classic pentalogy on The 4:30 Movie, a daily film showcase that aired in my area in the late 1970s and early ’80s. I discovered the spinoff comics in the mid-1990s, and I particularly enjoyed the Marvel magazines that featured adaptations of the movies, along with brand-new stories. The comics were written by the legendary Doug Moench, and they featured gorgeous artwork from such giants as Mike Ploog, Alfredo Alcala, and Tom Sutton.

Marvel remains the gold standard for Planet of the Apes comic publishers to this day, and it’s well-deserved. So you can imagine how honored I was when BOOM! Studios editor Dafna Pleban invited me to write supplementary essays for the company’s hardcover reprint books collecting the entire Marvel run. For each of the four volumes, I discussed the historical context of the stories contained within, including not only their place in Planet of the Apes history but also the United States’ sociopolitical climate at the time of their release.

In total, I contributed 14 essays to these books: “Gorilla Warfare and Tales of Terror,” “Still Ape-y After All These Years.” “Adaptation of the Apes,” “Adaptive Features,” “Zane-y Adventures on the Planet of the Apes,” “Journeying Beyond,” “The Birth of the Planet of the Apes,” “An Escape from the Quest for Conquest,” “A Marvelous Battle on the Planet of the Apes,” “We’re All Radiated, But At Least We’re Active,” “Sea Changes on an Upside-Down World,” “Monkeying Around and Making Waves,” “Unevolved in a Zone Forbidden,” and “The Fittest Survive… Unless the Pages Become Lost.” I wrote them all within a space of about a month, and it was a thrilling assignment from start to finish.

I had hoped BOOM! would continue the line beyond these four volumes by collecting the work of the other Apes publishers (Gold Key, Brown Watson, Malibu, Dark Horse, Mr. Comics, and BOOM! itself). Dafna and I had discussed the possibility, in fact, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. Still, it was a great pleasure to work on these books with Dafna, as well as her assistant editors Gavin Gronenthal and Alex Galer, and I feel privileged to have made my own small mark on Moench’s amazing Marvel lore.

Alas, finding these four books poses a bit of a challenge in today’s market, as they’ve become surprisingly rare and rather costly. But the BOOM! team did a remarkable job and if, Lawgiver willing, you can find them at a reasonable price, they are well worth reading.

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