Review by Frank Plowright
So what could possibly bring the crew of Starship Enterprise to the Planet of the Apes? Well, in this case there’s no concealing the Klngons are aggressively expanding their empire, and it involves supplying rebel General Marius with automatic weapons. Because they’re dealing with two different franchises each zealously controlled, writers David and Scott Tipton establish early that the Klingons are accessing an alternative dimension for their expansion, so it’s not a case of a shared universe.
As with much of the story, this explanation is long and verbose, with Spock frequently given speech balloons that could sink a battleship. That’s partly because until a third of the way in, The Primate Directive is a Star Trek story with a few glimpses of Apes thrown in. The title pun comes to have a relevance when the Enterprise crew meet George Taylor, the only intelligent human on the Planet of the Apes, and determined to overthrow them, but without the realistic means. The Enterprise could provide those means, but as frequently mentioned during the 1960s Star Trek series, the crew are bound by the Prime Directive, which forbids their interfering with a world’s natural culture. However, as seen to begin the story, the Klingons aren’t as picky.
Rachael Stott’s figures are a little stiff in places, but she’s good at providing actor likenesses and even better with the apes. The pages are composed to best effect, but not shown as well as they might be due to Charlie Kirchoff’s bright, flat colouring. Presumably intended as a homage to the period when both features originated, it lacks the sophistication expected from a 2105 publication.
It’s with the refusal to help that The Primate Directive finally kicks into action. The writers make good use of both casts, ensuring every known character has a moment in the spotlight, with the combinations well chosen. Scotty attempting to explain time travel to Dr. Cornelius standing out. Other than the primary characters being certain to survive there’s never any predictability, and a joyful romp plays out to a clever ending.