Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
After the brilliant run of graphic novels from DC, centred around The Flash, I am exetremly excited to dive into Gorilla Warfare. Rogues Revolution was an onslaught of memorable moments and characters that really set a high benchmark for the New 52. Following on directly from Rogues I am eager to see whether Gorilla Warfare capitalise on this with the intimidating villain Gorilla Grodd. Grodd has always been slightly hit and miss for me, his ethnicity (if you can call it that) has always really seperated me from truly relating to the character on a human level.
Mainly because he’s a giant Gorilla.
Can this book redeem him in my eyes and continue the highly acclaimed run by Manapul thus far?
Let’s jump in and find out!
The Enemy Of My Enemy
The book opens on the invasion of Keystone City by Gorilla Grodd’s ape army. Contrary to Rogues Revolution the villainous team of last time have decided that they would rather be under The Flash’s thumb than at the mercy of the Gorillas. They team up with the Speedster and all out war begins.
From the off Manapul and Buccellato handle the action beautifully. I expect no less from the duo now. They are able to add tension whilst keeping the stories light in tone. Often in their work there is humour matched perfectly with drama and overall the creators have complete control over the stories balance thematically.
This is a shining example of a creative pair working cohesively as a singly unit.
Superpowered Gorilla Grodd
In order to raise the stakes, Grodd has been endowed with Speedforce Energy. This allows him to finally be able to keep up with The Flash. This is a creative change that I believe needed to be implemented into the narrative to really make him a threat for the speedster. It’s great that the team at DC have realised this and it really heightens the action now that the combat is on a level playing field. They rewrite his origin story and incorporate other villains from the mythology, tying both the past and present together cohesively.
Throughout their confrontation Manapul manages to reveal The Flashes identity to Patty, Flash’s Love Interest, all whilst keeping the drama engaging. Normally subplots can slow the pacing but this is integrated into the work so as not to be distracting. It’s fitting that the lover of Barry embraces this in a kind and caring way that is true to her character from the other chapters in the run. For a opener that, on paper, amounts to little more than a long action scene the elements at play here all possess depth and are told in an engaging way that can only be commended.
Perhaps juxtaposing the technicality of the early sections is the ‘Speed Mind’ issue of the book. Due to the panel layout by Buccellato this segment is difficult to read and almost impossible to define in it’s intentions. Buccellato is normally incredible with his art work and layout so it was disappointing to see these moments so poorly executed. The concept revolves around Barry’s ability to view all possible outcomes to a scenario and whilst this is a unique idea in concept it is something that is very hard to portray.
This was the first time in the run thus far that I thought Buccellato dropped the ball and it’s a shame that this stands as a black mark against his usually stellar work.
Perhaps I am not the only one who sees Grodd as nothing more than a gimmicky villain. By making sure that the ape is not the sole focus of the story, Manapul has managed to give the naysayers something to still take from the book.
This comes in the form of The Rogues.
They once again provide likeable anti heroes that are easy to rally behind whilst also condemning in the same breath. Due to their personas and actions they are definitely becoming guilty pleasures of mine. The moment that they team up to stop a large number of the Gorilla force is a highlight and it could be argued that they deserve their own spinoff series based off this alone.
Being this bad has never been this good!
Kneel before Grodd
After running through every outcome mentally Flash realised that he must surrender to Grodd. He hands himself in but in doing so transports them both to the Speedforce. In there Flash is King and he deals out swift punishment to Grodd, saving Iris from the timeless dimension in the process.
It’s a thrilling climax to the book that once again wraps up a satisfying arc and ends with a gut punching cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more.
Whilst not as epic in scale as Rogues Revolution, Gorilla Warfare is still a well paced adventure in Flash canon. It features the excellently executed action set pieces and drama that we have come to expect from Manapul and Buccellato and this book should definitely be picked up by those considering to read through the Flash’s New 52 run. There are Flashes of Genius here (pun intended) that I can only really critique on a minor, cosmetic level.
Gorilla Warfare is a brilliant tale centred around one of Comic’s best heroes and deserves your time!