(Image Comics, 2014)
Created by Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely
Written by Keenan Marshall Keller
Drawn by Tom Neely
Color by Kristina Collantes
Motorcycle movies are mostly a thing of the past. Not since Chopper Chicks in Zombietown have I had this much fun with a motorcycle story. (Alas, I’ve not started Sons of Anarchy yet.) I loved Mad Max, watching Mel Gibson ride the desert, killing wantonly to stay alive, fighting against post-apocalyptic madmen.
This isn’t a comic about the end of the world. This isn’t even a comic about human beings. This is a comic about motorcycles, and a motorcycle gang of a distinctly different bent.
These are the Humans, and they’re apes.
What could be better than a motorcycle gang that entirely composed of rejects from the Planet of the Apes films? Nothing. This is a fun comic at the same time that it gives us a glimpse of those films from the 60’s and 70’s about biker gangs, films with names like The Wild Angels, Cycle Vixens, or Angels Die Hard.
Keenan Marshall Keller has an obvious love of the genre. Into this story of biker fights and lost brothers, he has infused the feeling of that culture; the drugs and partying that make it such a, bear with me, romantic way of life. Oh yes. The romance is one of the aspects of the biker life that is so attractive to anyone who isn’t doing it. Imagine being able to take off whenever you please, with nothing but the clothes on your back and your friends at your side, ready to take on whatever the world might throw at you. The drugs and the sex and the partying are all part of it as well. Keller captures that…and the violence that goes along with it.
Tom Neely (Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever, Popeye) has art as well as creator credits on this book. His style is best described as a cross between Crumb and Franklin J. Schaffner. (Director of the 1968 Planet of the Apes) It’s a great look for this type of book, with the cartoon style that makes the apes look both silly and terrifying at the same time. The anthropomorphic animals seem more human as the comic progresses, mostly due to Neely’s skill. There is one double-page spread of a battle between two gangs that is fantastic, broken into about 14 trapezoidal panels. It shows the confusion and violence, and so much movement, it’s amazing.
Colors on the book are great as well, the work provided by Kristina Collantes (All Crime). What really stands out is when she chooses to color pages mono or duo-chromatically, using just greens and blues in the big fight scene mentioned above, and 70’s style earth tones in the pages just preceding that…it gives the book a very early indie comic vibe that works great with the overall theme.
If you’ve ever been a fan of biker films, or films from the 60’s and 70’s, the culture from that era, or…let’s be honest…apes, then the Humans is right up your alley. Tom Neely and Keenan Marshall Keller have given us Planet of the Apes meets Sons of Anarchy, and where monkey-ing around is definitely an option, nay, a requirement.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.