Warning: Contains Spoilers for Planet of the Apes #2!A shocking secret in the new Planet of the Apes comics has completely redefined the franchise. Planet of the Apes has become one of the most well-known science fiction franchises ever since the 1968 Charlton Heston classic first came to the big screen. The hostile relationship between humans and apes provided an interesting glimpse at the dystopian society where humans have lost their footing as the dominant species. However, Marvel’s newest comic from 20th Century Studios shows that humans may not be as low on the totem pole as fans thought.
In Planet of the Apes #2 by David F. Walker and Dave Wachter, it’s revealed that a small society in an orangutan preservation habitat in Borneo actually houses a society where humans and apes live side-by-side. This is during the early days of the ALZ-113 outbreak from the modern Planet of the Apes film trilogy, so humans haven’t yet been eradicated or lost their ability to speak. The humans are shown connecting with the orangutans by showing them books like Where the Wild Things Are to open up their culture and work together to survive. While this may take place years before the dystopia fans are accustomed to in the earlier films, it still sets a standard that there could be civilizations like this in the future as well.
Borneo Became an Ape and Human Utopia
The way the Borneo habitat is portrayed in this comic shows that the compassion among the humans and apes prevented a full-blown revolt as seen in Apes trilogy from the 2010s. These orangutans do not feel threatened by their human counterparts and are open to working with them to maintain a balance in their society. They’re shown fishing together, gathering fruits and participating in recreational activities such as biking. What’s really telling is that they completely shut themselves out from the world in an effort to separate themselves from the more violent humans eager to maintain their place at the top of the civilized ladder. The U.N. Secretary General mentions that they lost communication with the people in Borneo for two years “shortly after that unpleasantness with China.” Ever since, they’ve thrived by trusting each other and building a new world where both ape and human can live together in harmony.
Attempts to Copy Borneo Likely Accelerated Ape Domination
What’s fascinating in this issue though is what people outside of Borneo are doing to create a similar outcome with apes in their possession. A researcher named Dr. Sembene mentions that they are “training apes to help us,” but a quick glimpse at how they’re doing it shows they’re not exactly on the path to being a Utopian society. Each ape has been fitted with a horrific looking collar as they work in fields and are trained to fight through rigorous protocols. U.N. peacekeeper Tobon immediately calls out how disturbing it is by equating it to slavery. In the end though, this will undoubtedly come back to bite them as Tobon does mention that “the apes are getting smarter,” and training them in combat will only help accelerate the downfall of humans rather than promote survival like Dr. Sembene wants.
The decision to not see apes as equals is what sets the other surviving humans apart from those in Borneo. Compassion is key to winning the apes over to their side and adjusting to the newest link in the evolutionary chain. In fact, it makes one wonder if societies like the one in Borneo still exist in the far future long after the last remaining humans lost the ability to speak. This is a huge moment for the Planet of the Apes franchise that completely changes how fans perceive the dystopian society as it shows that the humans who treated apes right from the beginning likely never encountered a time when the apes treated them as lesser.
Planet of the Apes #2 is available now from Marvel Comics!