Nola Nerd Couple started seriously collecting comic books in 2014. Unfortunately for me, my palindromic rheumatism started around the same time. So, I was buying comic books that I didn’t read. When I wasn’t in pain, I was reading books for grad schools. A lot of books just found a space in our long box and sadly were not read.
One of the comics I collected at that time was Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive by Scott and David Tipton with artwork by Rachael Stott. Star Trek got me through college and growing up Charlton Heston could do no wrong according to my mom. In other words, two of my favorite sci-fi franchises were combined in one story.
It was well worth the wait. First, this is a story about ideas. This is a bold choice in that it could have easily have turned into an action packed comic. There are plenty action scenes in it, but this is a story about avoiding conflict as much as possible. The basic crux of the story is that the crew of the Starship Enterprise chases a Klingon vessel through a multi-universe portal that takes them to the Planet of the Apes. Does the prime directive apply to worlds in parallel universes?
This point is debated over the five issue run. Now there is plenty of action, but the prime directive controls how much. I truly appreciated this. I love action, but I love a book that explores ideas even more. Kirk is very much in control here and never lets emotions take control. This was a great bit of characterization because Taylor is extremely emotional. Let’s face it, Taylor in the movies is a jerk (a fact pointed out in the excellent essays that occur at the end of each book). Taylor is a true misanthrope. He didn’t like humanity when he left Earth, and he has nothing but contempt for the ape civilization. It’s hard to write for a character like that and have the reader have empathy towards him. What the Tiptons do well here is make him a focus point of tension. Will he do the right thing for the group or for himself?
All of our favorite characters from both series are here. Stott’s work is impressive especially with the apes. She doesn’t stray far from John Chambers magnificent designs but still finds a way to give each character an expressiveness that allows for individuality to come through.
The most disappointing character may be Spock. Not that the authors and artist do a bad job with him, it’s just that many of Kirk’s lines could have also been Spock’s. Taylor is such a counterpoint to Kirk that Spock doesn’t really need to fill in that role, making him one-dimensional.
The conclusion is both true to Star Trek (hopeful) and Planet of the Apes (pessimistic). There is a door left open for a return and it would be interesting to see further stories. However, this is a complete work. It introduces an interesting what-if scenario that in a plausible, for sci-fi, manner to both of these stories. It doesn’t retcon either story as well. It treats that scenario with intelligence which is truly what makes this collection a recommended read.
Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive was released by IDW and Boom! Studios. Look for it in the back issues section of your comic book store or buy directly from IDW.