Reading more like an official comic book adaption of Ted Post’s 1970 American science fiction film “Beneath The Planet Of The Apes” than an innovative exploration of the untold story behind arguably the franchise’s most memorable ‘supporting character in POTA lore’, this final instalment to David F. Walker’s six-issue mini-series probably provided its 3,645 fans with a surprisingly poignant ending to the gorilla general’s life which, despite all the acting qualities of James Gregory, was never made clear on the ‘Silver Screen’.
Indeed, as the Simian soldiers invade the mutant humans’ partially ruined subterranean city and Méndez XXVI is subsequently shot before “the instrument of my God”, those within this publication’s audience who were already familiar with the (second) film’s plot were probably just waiting for the military leader to be slain by Brent so the twenty-two page periodical could end. However, rather than simply fall to the wayside dead as in the motion picture, the titular character instead momentarily considers the “kind of life” he perhaps could have lived had his beloved wife, Qama, not died in labour, or at least experienced if he hadn’t allowed Kananaios to fill his heart with hate.
This emotional, remarkably sentimental scene genuinely depicts a regretful side to the military commander which is movingly penned by this comic’s writer, and arguably makes Issue Six of “Planet Of The Apes: Ursus” worth its cover price alone. In fact, the narrative to this edition is so hauntingly melancholy, and yet strikingly self-contained, that it probably would have worked better if simply published as a stand-a-lone one shot, rather than the dramatic ending to a disappointing extended storyline which in no way depicts the gorilla learning “the truth of the talking human that fell from the sky” as “Boom! Studios” advertised in its pre-print marketing.
Similarly as underwhelming as the publisher’s impotent boast is Walker’s decision to ‘kill off’ the then Chief Constable of Terminus’ wife (and baby) as a result of a difficult childbirth. It is clear how such a domestic tragedy could cause Ursus to lose all faith in both the teachings of his ‘father’ and the Lawgiver. But how this loss helps fuel the Ape City leader’s passionate loathing for humanity and strong belief that “the only thing that counts in the end is power. Naked, merciless force” is another matter entirely…