Damn. This is heavy.
Okay, to sum up the series, think Planet of the Apes that has the monkeys in our history’s late ’60s/early ’70s, and humans are slaves/pets. We focus in this issue on Johnny, freshly returned from Vietnam to his crew, the motorcycle gang known as The Humans. He’s back from the war and is trying to reconcile the life he’s known in the jungle with the one he left for it.
This book epitomizes the counter-culture (that we tend to think of as the primary culture) of the late ’60s. There’s sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, and no support for those coming home, save what they can figure out for themselves. There’s such a loneliness for this guy coming home, where no one’s got the shared experience of having every second filled with terror and the joy of still being able to be terrified. Watching a room of drugged-out former friends and crew party into nothingness . . . a nothingness that would have been as certain an invitation to death where he was as any, and Keenan Marshall Keller draws us into this chimp’s world with a delicate touch.
Of course, Tom Neeley does it with a s–t-covered boot to the face with the illustration. The brutality is stark and in your face; there’s no possible way to hide from it, which lets us into the world of horrors that Johnny is facing. The rawness of memories that won’t fade is etched perfectly onto the page and lets us examine ourselves with these kinds of experiences that we can turn the page on and remind ourselves that we’re not really there.
The post-panel pages are truly a blast, with a write-in section that lets the leader of The Humans’ crew spout his personal philosophy all over willing writers. It’s a continual shock to the system, and they way it’s written reveals a character we don’t actually see in this issue in graphic detail. He’s a vulgar sociopath that shows a fascinating array of interests and carves a very crooked line of morality. So, yeah. An absolute blast.
If you’re into period Vietnam pieces (Platoon, Deer Hunter, half of Forrest Gump) or just like the idea of the sixties and the counter-culture movement, then this is a book you should check out. It’ll be well worth your time.
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