Summary: STAR TREK: The hope for the best of mankind’s future! PLANET OF THE APES: A chilling look at the fall of humanity! How could these worlds possibly collide? What could possibly cause Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise to side with Dr. Zaius to protect Ape City? And what does Colonel George Taylor have to say about it?
Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive, by Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Rachel Stott and Charlie Kirchoff 7.75
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the superheroes of Marvel Comics met their DC Comics counterparts? If you’re even remotely a comic book geek, of course you have. Could Superman take the Hulk in a fair fight? Would Batman prevail over Captain America? What about Wonder Woman versus Thor? Who would win?
Comic book crossovers have been around since time immemorial, and it’s just a question of time before we see them on the big screen as well – eventually, the only way to reinvigorate a franchise that’s worn out its welcome is to thrust it in a head-on collision with another, completely unrelated, one. You just mark my words. It’ll happen.
‘Alien’ vs ‘Predator’ vs ‘Species’ vs ‘Independence Day’?
It’s just a question of time.
But as far as cross-overs go, one that doesn’t seem all that intuitive is ‘Star Trek’ mashed up with ‘Planet of the Apes’. Although they’re vaguely from the same era, and both are landmarks in a genre that was impoverished at the time, one is optimistic while the other is pessimistic, and one looks towards the future, while the other looks back.
Let’s be honest: A meeting of ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Planet of the Apes’ is a pretty gimmicky concept – and I can’t say that I was convinced by the idea. But I must also admit that I was fairly amused by its subtitle ‘The Primate Directive’, a tongue-in-cheek line that’s corny enough for a chuckle but also clever enough to intrigue with possibility.
Naturally, I requested it from the local library; my curiosity, piqued, needed to be sated.
The five-part mini-series, which was published in late 2014 and early 2015, tells of an encounter that Captain Kirk and the Enterprise have with Klingon Captain Kor, after discovering that the Klingons have found a portal into an alternate reality and are using it to expand their empire. Kirk and company follow them and find a surprise waiting…
…the planet of the apes!
Set in between the original 1968 movie and just before its sequel, ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes‘, ‘The Primate Directive’ introduces the main protagonists of both franchises to one another, with Kirk, Spock and McCoy, meeting Taylor, Cornelius and Zira. It also teams up their antagonists, with the gorillas receiving help from the Klingons.
What I liked the most is that the characters’ personalities seemed in keeping with the way they’d been established at the time; the Tiptons clearly had a good understanding of the source material. And the story wasn’t too action-based; there was plenty of room development, and it was spread over the five volumes with pure precision.
Speaking of which, the artwork was, for the most part, very accurate. While Rachael Stott’s style is more modern, I found that she represented the two worlds rather well; the characters and environments resembled themselves (something one can’t at all take for granted) and their expressions were in keeping with their personalities.
However, I found that the way that the two universes collided was slightly contrived: Knowing that Klingon ships were coming, Kirk had the choice of fleeing and coming back with reinforcements, or going through to the other side. Kirk chose the other side, even though the Klingons could easily follow them through: They couldn’t escape.
There was also some fan service, like having Taylor finagle his way onto the NC-1701. I mean, that sort of thing happened in the original show, so it’s not too far-fetched. But still. And was it necessary for the Enterprise to see Earth explode, not knowing the events of ‘Beneath’? Nope. And let’s not mention the disparity in time lapse between the two.
But, as a writer, you just have to do cram as many reference points as possible.
It’s far too tempting not to.
Having said this, ‘The Primate Directive’ is actually pretty decent. In fact, it felt very much like a proper 50-minute episode of classic ‘Star Trek’ would have been, pacing and development-wise. Granted, it falls in the realm some of the series’ goofier episodes, what with this ape-dominated alternate Earth, but it still plays well in the end.
The whole set is concluded with a series of essays by writer and comedian Dana Gould (of ‘The Simpsons’ fame) about ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Planet of the Apes’, which were presumably originally published at the tail end of each issue (5 issues, 5 essays… makes sense). They were informative, amusing and overflowing with nostalgia – a pure joy to read.
So, ultimately, even though it initially looks like a mere gimmick, ‘The Primate Directive’ is in fact quality stuff.
It’s well worth a gander.