Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive. Written by Scott Tipton and David Tipton, Art by Rachael Stott, Colors by Charlie Kirchoff. Trade paperback. IDW Publishing and Boom! Studios, 2015. (8 out of 10)
One of the great things about comic book tie-ins is that they're less beholden to things like aging actors, budgets, and corporate barriers that have kept some of our favorite crossovers from "really" happening. So when I saw "Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive" I was excited. Excited like a little kid. I am a lifelong fan of "Star Trek," and while I don't feel the same way about "Planet of the Apes," I like the classic movie enough that I figured this would be a fun ride.
And I was right.
The story starts out with Lieutenants Sulu and Uhura on the Klingon homeworld, in a secret operation to retrieve some data. We get to see both of them in action as their own heroes, using their skills with languages, computers, and martial arts to complete their mission and return to the Enterprise. There Spock and the other crew members figure out that the Klingons are in the process of expanding their empire--but into a parallel dimension. They've been able to build structures that form a gateway in space. Captain Kirk pursues Klingon cruisers through that gateway, and they end up in orbit around...the Planet of the Apes. Of course.
This takes place after the original "Planet of the Apes" movie, so we already know the characters of the chimpanzees Cornelius and Zira, the orangutan Dr. Zaius, and the human Taylor. All will be integral to the storyline, as the crew of the Enterprise discovers that the Klingons are arming gorillas led by Brutus in an uprising against the others. Taylor has already retreated from society, going with his mute female companion into the area formerly known as New York City, now a wasteland with broken Statues of Liberty poking up out of the sand. You're familiar.
As the Enterprise crew solves the mystery of where exactly they're at, and what's happened on this Earth, Taylor sees their incredible technology -- transporters, phasers, and sees a way to free the humans who have become dumb slaves of the apes. He gets himself beamed up to the ship, and is able to get as far as knocking out a crewman and getting to the shuttlebay before he's stopped. What follows is exactly what I wanted from this series -- a showdown between 1960s Charlton Heston and William Shatner as Colonel Taylor and Captain Kirk. I mean, we know they'll end up on the same side after this initial dust-up, because that's how these things work. But seeing them throw down in the shuttlebay, with roundhouse punches, kicking off of the walls, ripping shirts, bloody lips--wow. It was everything you got in the best Captain Kirk fights.
Eventually we get a more cerebral discussion of what exactly the Prime Directive (Starfleet's rule that they mustn't use their superior technology to interfere with developing civilizations) would mean in this scenario. I mean, this is Earth, these are humans, and they're being subjugated by mutants...aaaand they're already being interfered with by the Klingons. So why shouldn't the Enterprise help Taylor and the humans?
It's an interesting dilemma, and the solution that they arrive at isn't surprising, but some of the consequences are. In the past, Star Trek comics have been hit and miss; I loved Peter David's run in the late 80s and early 90s, but that was decades ago. I'll say that nearly every book from Scott and David Tipton has been a lot of fun. Some of it groundbreaking, but most of it just a fun ride. Sometimes I just want a Star Trek fix, and they deliver. I'm glad IDW is keeping them around.
This book also made me want to go back and revisit the original "Apes" movies, and see what the implications of this story could be -- I'm not sure if the ending here connects to the next movie, or if it's going in its own direction. I wouldn't want this to be an ongoing series or anything, but perhaps another book, set during the period of the original series movies? Or "The Next Generation"? There are always possibilities. And with a miniseries as fun as this, I'll check it out.
If it has a good pun in the title.
Primate Directive. Hee.