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07.26.2021
Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes (1973)
Fiction Review by The Gravedigger
04.18.21

Kingdom On An Island Of The Apes  (1973) Derek Zane, a young man on the outs with his girlfriend Michelle for being a "dreamer", has invented a time-machine. He meets with her for lunch to tell her about his amazing invention-and that he has a meeting with NASA- but she breaks up with him, saying he has too many problems for her to deal with. Distraught, he goes to the nearest bar and gets plastered. The next morning he flies to his meeting in Houston. He tells the guy that he knows what happened to missing astronauts Taylor, Dodge, Landon and Stewart-and that he based his work on Dr Otto Hasslein's theories of Time, Dimensional Matrices and Infinite Regression. Of course, the guy doesn't believe him. Even more depressed about his situation and feeling he has nothing to lose, he decides to test the time machine himself-and finds himself thousands of years in the future. However, because he was originally in a fifth floor apartment the machine crashes to the ground, beyond repair. So he starts exploring this desolate looking land. While a group of apes come across his machine, he comes across a group of mute humans. Soon, the apes catch up and start firing on the group. It's led by a one eyed gorilla named Gorodon. He runs away but has left behind his toolbox, his only connection to his own world. So he travels and comes to the adobe Ape City, sneaks in and sees an Orangutan, Xirinius, looking at his belongings. Just as Derek is going to retrieve them Gorodon walks in and he and Xirinius begin arguing on whether it's possible for a human to speak. Gorodon believes the Orangutan was lying by saying it's impossible for a human to speak (because he heard Derek) and is more open minded. Their argument soon escalates to fighting-and Gorodon stabs him to death. Derek now makes himself known and holds a gun to the gorilla while he takes back his belongings. He ties him up and then frees a bunch of caged humans. In the confusion he takes off in a horse wagon and then comes to a body of water where he fashions a raft out of it and finds himself on an island.

It's on this island he comes across something completely different-apes who dress in armor and act like characters from King Arthur's time period. They don't even have guns. In fact, the gorilla who first finds him doesn't seem at all alarmed that he can speak. After a six-hour trek they come to the castle-and city of Avedon where he's taken to his royal Majesty, King Arthur-and orangutan! Derek explains that he's fleeing from hostile apes on the mainland but the gorilla, Gawain, does not believe him. Derek performs a trick with his lighter and gunpowder but that doesn't win them over. Instead, Lady Andrea-a young human woman-proposes that he performs a task which Gawain had failed at-slaying the local dragon. Derek thinks they are all crazy-until he sees there is such a creature, which looks like a giant iguana (mutated). He shoots it through the eye with his pistol and is made a Knight. Eventually he and Lady Andrea become friends-and she admits that their entire society is based on old books from before the holocaust.

Gawain still doesn't like him, mostly for showing him up by slaying the dragon, so challenges him to a joust. Derek wins by shining a flashlight in his eyes at the last minute and knocking him off his horse-and Gawain almost shoots him with a crossbow when his back is turned. King Arthur casts the gorilla out to permanent exile. Weeks pass and Derek-and Andrea-are very happy.

But on the mainland Gorodon is still obsessed with finding Derek-and comes across his camp on the beach, where he made his raft. The gorillas construct a raft and make way to the same island, where they make a siege on the castle. There's a huge battle-and Derek and Gorodon fight hand to hand, with Derek winning by splitting the gorilla's head with an axe. Afterwards he proposes marriage to Andrea. In the end he says he plans on doing a little exploring in the future to find out what happened to Taylor and the others.

Overall, this fits into the original apes mythos without contradicting anything, and it's cool seeing a completely different ape culture. My only small gripe is that there's a mix-up with his name in the first issue. In the beginning he's referred to as Derek by his girlfriend yet on the last page of the first issue it says his name is Daryl Zane, which is corrected in the following issue back to Derek. That little thing aside, this four-issue story which originally appeared in PLANET OF THE APES magazine and Marvel's UK comic book is very entertaining. Recommended.

Story Doug Moench

Art: Rico Rival


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