Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes is an illustrated original novel based on the classic Planet of the Apes film pentalogy. Published in August 2011 by Archaia Entertainment, Conspiracy was written by Andrew E. C. Gaska, adapted from a story by Gaska, Rich Handley, Christian Berntsen and Erik Matthews. The book contained illustrations from more than twenty top artists, including Jim Steranko, Andrew Probert, Timothy Lantz, Joe Jusko, Mark Texeira, Dave Dorman, Chris Scalf, Brian Rood, Chandra Free, Dan Dussault, Ken W. Kelly, Colo, David Hueso, Miki, Matt Busch, Dirk Shearer, Barron Storey, David Seidman, Sanjulian, Chris Moeller, Thomas Scioli, Scott Hampton, Leo Liebleman, Lucas Graciano, Erik Gist and Patricio Carbajal.
Landon frequently thought back to his former life. He remembered being navigator with ANSA's Juno mission which travelled from Mars to Jupiter. On board were six astronauts in hibernation pods, among them Stewart. The Juno was partially a test run for the secretive 'Project Liberty', and Dr. Hasslein's experimental 'X-Comm' communication equipment took up almost one third of the space on the Juno. Their other objective was to deliver the 'Flag' - a radiation-powered satellite with US colours and anthem which would orbit Jupiter's insubstantial surface, laying territorial claim to the planet. The same was planned for Saturn. However, not all went according to plan and three of the crew were killed. Landon, himself injured by an indirect blast of radiation from the X-Comm, had an affair with Stewart during the voyage. Having completed their tasks, the surviving crew then discovered a Soviet satellite containing the corpse of a monkey cosmonaut named Gregori, meaning that the planet had already been claimed.
Both astronauts were then assigned to the Liberty 1, nicknamed the "Icarus" (for 'classified reasons'). Five Liberty ships were reverse engineered from technology of classified origin, and were propelled by an experimental photon propulsion drive designed by Dr. Hasslein. The crew were to "pollinate" the stars if something went wrong and they found themselves stranded. Three months after the crew entered hibernation, the Liberty 1 collided with a ship exactly identical with itself, automatically setting an emergency course for Earth and crash-landing there nine months later. Back at ANSA, the X-Comm technology allowed Dr. Hasslein to monitor progress, and it was noted that communications abruptly stopped en route to Centaurus. However, upon landing, Landon's location transmission signal from the TX-9 somehow found its way back through the time distortion to the place they had left, prompting ANSA to consider sending a second Liberty craft along the same trajectory, either as a rescue mission or, more likely, as a suicide mission which would nevertheless prove time-travel theory.
While travelling through the Forbidden Zone after the crash of the Liberty 1, Landon came under the mental control of the nearby mutant population, specifically their General of Defence who 'tagged' Landon, causing him vivid hallucinations involving Stewart, Gregori, and other figures from his memory. Upon capture by the apes, Landon was one of two injured humans singled out because they were found to be wearing pants. In the laboratory of Dr. Galen, Landon found that he couldn't speak, nor even make his lips move. He tried to escape but was overpowered and transferred to Dr. Galen's private laboratory, where he had been experimenting with transplanting severed human heads. Galen failed to tell Dr. Zira about Landon while they subsequently performed a blood transfusion on Taylor. Finding himself in a dream state, unable to account for the passing of time and covered in unexplained cuts and bruises, Landon was actually acting under the intermittent control of the mutants, who induced him to dislocate his shoulders and escape his cage at night and break into the offices of members of the High Council looking for valuable information.
Dr. Milo was among those at an expedition into the Forbidden Zone a year earlier, an expedition which Dr. Zaius had quickly regretted sanctioning. Milo had discovered an ancient flying machine and a set of old rusted dog-tags before a gorilla force shut down the expedition and ordered them home. Galen, the husband of Milo's cousin, gave Milo Landon's dog-tags, and Landon was able to speak to Milo after hearing music from a music-box. Landon explained his voyage, firing Milo's wildest imaginings about the possibility of flight. Cornelius later told Milo about Taylor, confirming Landon's story, but Milo did not reveal Landon's existence. Knowing that Dr. Zaius would not approve another expedition, Milo forged his signature on a document and used it to recruit a team of fifteen chimps to search for the Liberty 1. They eventually located the ship and even managed to bring it to shore, setting off the events that would lead to another flight.
Meanwhile, Mungwortt the garbage ape was disgusted by the dismembered human body parts discarded outside Galen's laboratory and, peering inside, saw Milo speaking with Landon. Mungwortt told his lover - Galen's wife Liet - what he had seen, and Liet went to investigate. There, Landon took her hostage and forced her to lead him to Taylor and Dodge, but Liet left a trail of clues and he was soon recaptured by Security Chief Marcus. The mutants then reasserted their control, prompting Landon to kill both Marcus and Galen, but the mental effort killed the mutant General of Defence, and Landon's mind was finally free of confusion. However, Zaius was determined to suppress any knowledge about talking humans, and he quickly arranged for Landon's brain to be operated on, leaving him a mindless zombie. Zaius also arranged for Zao and Mungwortt to be secretly transported to the Forbidden Zone and left to the mercy of the 'White Ones', as both had failed to keep quiet about witnessing humans talk.
- John Landon: Navigator with the Juno mission and with the Liberty 1. He came under the control of the mutants while travelling through the Forbidden Zone, and found himself unable to speak to the apes until the control was loosened when he heard music. The second human to speak in Ape City, he was quickly and secretly dealt with by Dr. Zaius, leaving him to spend his remaining days as a mindless zombie.
- Maryann Stewart: Biologist with the Juno mission, where she briefly took control after the death of their skipper, and with the Liberty 1.
- George Taylor: Skipper of the Liberty 1.
- Thomas Dodge: Science Officer of the Liberty 1.
- Doctor Milo: Chimpanzee scientist and inventor. He spent most of his time studying and repairing ancient artefacts, whilst also designing new surgical instruments for Dr. Galen, the husband of his cousin. His old college friend and confidante was Dr. Cornelius, whom he accompanied on an expedition to the Forbidden Zone and found evidence of ancient machines. He attempted to build a working glider but was unsuccessful in testing it. Later, he spoke to Landon, who confirmed Milo's wildest imaginings about flight.
- Doctor Seraph: Dr. Milo's female chimp assistant, and a gifted scientist in her own right. She had been present at Dr. Cornelius' cave excavation and had designed a glass diving bell as she, unlike most apes, enjoyed being in water. This was put to use when she returned to the Forbidden Zone with Dr. Milo.
- Doctor Pinchus: A chimp archaeologist who accompanied Dr. Cornelius and Dr. Milo on their expedition into the Forbidden Zone, and later returned with Milo to salvage the Liberty 1.
- Tellah: A young chimp who was part of Dr. Milo's expedition to the Forbidden Zone.
- Doctor Cornelius: The fiancé of Dr. Zira and friend of Dr. Milo. He had led an expedition into the Forbidden Zone but been recalled on the orders of Dr. Zaius and General Ursus. He was sceptical of Taylor's claims.
- Doctor Zira: A chimp veterinarian and colleague of Dr. Galen. She risked her promising career by championing the cause of the speaking human Taylor.
- Doctor Galen: A chimp veterinarian, he conducted gruesome and illegal experiments on humans subjects in order to test surgical transplantation theories, all without success. He came to possess Landon in his laboratory for some time, and came under the suspicion of Dr. Zaius and Marcus. On hearing Landon speak, Galen summoned Marcus and recaptured the human, but after Marcus and Zaius accused him of surgically creating a human freak and tried to arrest him, London pushed him off a bridge to his death.
- Liet: The wife of Dr. Galen and the cousin of Dr. Milo. She was a social climber who nagged her husband towards greater social standing. She was having an affair with the half-breed garbage-ape, which would have scandalised the society she craved the approval of. She was taken hostage by Landon but cleverly left a trail leading to his recapture.
- Jaila: Dr. Galen's nurse. She fainted upon hearing Landon speak, and suffered a concussion.
- Doctor Zaejin: A chimp veterinarian who benefited from the lifting of the quota system. His wife, Wanda, was a member of the same knitting club as Liet. Zaejin was one of the team that operated on Landon's brain.
- Doctor Janus: A gorilla veterinarian working in partnership with Dr. Zaejin, he also benefited from the lifting of the quota system and operated on Landon's brain under the supervision of Dr. Zaius.
- Julius: The chief animal wrangler at the Academy's Research Complex.
- Mungwortt: A son of the gorilla Digby by the female chimp Nila, as a half-breed and an alcoholic he was an outcast, reduced to the role of a garbage-ape, though he was conducting a secret affair with Liet. He witnessed Landon speaking with Dr. Milo.
- Chief Marcus: Chief of the Ape City Simian Secret Security Police Force, and also the director of the Hunt Club composed of members of that force. A son of Digby, Marcus was the husband of Malia, whose father was a maker of apricot wine, and their children were Jaffe, the eldest son, Sata, the greedy second son, Kenya, their daughter, and Zaius, their youngest son who was named after Marcus' mentor.
- Sub-Chief Cerek: Marcus' deputy leader of the police force. He posed in the middle of three triumphant gorillas photographed over the bodies of slain humans (after Marcus recognised the photographer as one of his half-brothers) and thus may be the Hunt Leader. Though loyal to Marcus, he sympathised with - and offered his support to - Ursus' cause and felt that the orangutans had maintained control by dividing the gorillas against each other. He became Chief after Marcus' death, his first duty to dispose of Zao and Mungwortt.
- Sergeant Aurelios: A member of the police force, he helped Marcus and Cerek to search the laboratories of the Commons area for undocumented humans. It was Aurelios who captured Taylor just before he first spoke to the apes.
- Cormac: A nephew of Cerek and one of Ursus' top scouts. He was one of the gorillas sent to shut down Dr. Cornelius' cave excavation, and was later among a scouting party of twelve which fell through a cave-in into the financial district of the underground home of the mutants, he alone escaped but his mind was targeted and damaged by the mutants. Two captured surviving gorillas were forced to shoot each other, and the direct sunlight caused corneal burns to those mutants present.
- General Ursus: Leader of the ape military. He had an intense rivalry with Marcus and Zaius, and tried to have the police force absorbed into the army to launch an exploration of the Forbidden Zone in search of heretical apes or some other sentient (non-human) creatures. When his plan was rejected, he angrily left with his army for manoeuvres, just before news broke about Taylor speaking.
- Dangrel: Ursus' loyal gorilla deputy. He was one of the gorillas sent by Ursus and Zaius to shut down Dr. Cornelius' cave excavation. He attended the hunt in place of Ursus, and took away Dodge's corpse to give to the curator of the museum on account of his unusual dark skin - he had most likely been bribed to retrieve unusual specimens. He later conspired with Ursus and left Ape City with him before Taylor spoke.
- Old Zao: An elderly retired orangutan. He had been Minister of Science for thirty years, succeeding Augustus and preceding Augustus' son Zaius. He was arrested when he challenged the code of silence surrounding Taylor.
- Sabian: An elderly orangutan who spent his retirement playing board games and sharing gossip with his old friend Zao. Sabian had served on the council - according to Zao he was 'head of the sanitation council', though this may have been intended as an insult. He had Zao arrested for talking about Taylor, who had interrupted one of their games during his escape attempt.
- Doctor Zaius: Chief Defender of the Faith and Minister of Science. He struggled with the burdens of keeping dangerous information from his people, which meant disposing of his old mentor Zao. He suffered from nightmares about human invasion. His late wife was named Ambrosine and their grown-up children lived far away. He planned to frame Dr. Galen as the creator of speaking human monsters, but after Galen's death he personally operated on Landon to permanently silence him.
- President Gaius: President of the ape Assembly. He sympathised with Ursus' plan but insisted the will of the majority should be respected.
- Speaker Zarka: A chimpanzee official at the meeting of the High Council.
- Doctor Arlis: Minister of Agriculture, and a fat orangutan. His rose-bed was destroyed by a night-time intruder.
- Doctor Maximus: Commissioner of Animal Affairs. Although a friend of Dr. Zaius since their childhood, he formed an alliance with Ursus and proposed an 'Ape City Security and Defence Declaration' to give Ursus overall control of security, but it was rejected by the High Council.
- Doctor Honorius: Deputy Minister of Justice.
- Hestia: Dr. Zaius' female orangutan secretary.
- Doctor Reila: An orangutan doctor at the Research Complex.
- Reverend Joshua: An elderly orangutan who officiated before a meeting of the ape High Council.
- Scena: A middle-aged female orangutan fruit vendor in Ape City.
- Mutant 'Elder Statesman': The master politician.
- Mutant 'Fat Man': The master of logic.
- Mutant 'Beautiful Woman': The master of emotion.
- Mutant 'Negro': The master of pain.
- Mutant 'He': The supreme leader.
- Mutant General of Defence: With steel-grey robes, the general 'tagged' Landon during his trek across the desert, causing him to hallucinate, and intermittently exercised control over him. As a descendent of the mutant drones of the extinct Inheritors society, the general had a genetic ability to use 'Gestalt Mind' methods to reassert full control of Landon, but was psychically damaged in the process. (In the follow-up novel he was identified as Ygli VII, the General of Defence written about in 'The Mutant News'.)
- Commander Robert Marx: The head of the Juno mission to Jupiter, the first black man to command an interplanetary mission. He managed to keep control of his crew when they hit unforeseen problems, but was killed by a beam of high-level radiation from the 'X-Comm' communication device.
- Lieutenant James Patrick: The raven-headed technician with the Juno mission. Suffering from 'hibernation psychosis', he became paranoid and delusional about Soviet conspiracies and communist sympathisers among the crew, leading him to kill two and attempt to kill the rest before his own death.
- Gabriel "Gabby" Combs: The neurotic brunette Medical Officer on the Juno mission. Combs went along with Patrick's accusations, but ultimately became his second victim.
- Edward "Jonesy" Jones: The blonde-haired, blue-eyed 22-year-old pilot on the Juno mission, and presumably the same astronaut who would later fly with the Probe Six. Jones dismissed Patrick's fears about communist infiltration and thus became his first target, though he survived his injuries.
- Doctor Otto Hasslein: Head of ANSA. He organised the Juno mission, which tested his 'X-Comm' technology, and later organised the Liberty 1 mission and urged General Lazenbe to send a second craft, if not to rescue the first crew then to test time-travel theory.
- General Theodore Lazenbe: A thirty-year veteran of the Air Force and the man who made the final decision on whether to send another craft after receiving a distress signal from the Liberty 1 sent back through time. He had served in the Korean War with both Taylor and a young Maddox.
- Colonel Donovan Andrew Maddox: Skipper of the Liberty 2 rescue mission.
- Major John Christopher Brent: Medical Officer of the Liberty 2 rescue mission.
- Pete: An astronaut Landon hazily remembered meeting while Pete was on a date with someone whose name might have been Jen or Jan Adams. (This could have been Peter Burke.)
- Templeton: ANSA's PR guy. (He can be seen in the 'ANSA Public Service Announcement' featured in the 2008 Planet of the Apes Blu-Ray collection, and he may be named here in honour of comic writer Ty Templeton.)
- Karl: An assistant to Dr. Hasslein. (This may be Dr. Karl Reich.)
- Doctor Stanton: A colleague of Dr. Hasslein. (Presumably the scientist behind the Venturer spacecraft.)
- Doctor Krigstein: A NASA scientist. (He later encountered Derek Zane.)
- Lieutenant Allen: An astronaut. (Possibly Jeff Allen of the Venturer.)
- Tammy Taylor and Jo Taylor: The daughters of Colonel Taylor and his wife Gillian; Landon muses on Taylor's willingness to abandon them all for space travel.
- Digby: A drunken gorilla who fathered many children by many different apes. He was the father of Marcus, of the photographer and of Mungwortt, all of whom bore a strong resemblance to him. (In Rod Serling's early script treatments for the original film, the Hunt Leader was an ape named 'Mr. Digby'.)
- General Brody: A senior official of Strategic Air Command who relayed the news about the Liberty 1 distress signal to General Lazenbe.
- Major General Hamilton: Another senior official of Strategic Air Command, who accompanied General Brody.
- Drew Gaska originally pitched the idea of a graphic novel series to 20th Century Fox in 2007, but Fox weren't interested in licensing more comics following MR Comics' Revolution on the Planet of the Apes series in 2006. Inspired by Dark Horse Comics' 1992 illustrated novella Aliens: Tribes, Gaska pitched the idea of a full illustrated novel and secured a license for a two-book deal.
- Gaska's BLAM! Ventures guerilla art company produced the book before taking it to Archaia Entertainment. Delays arising from Archaia changing ownership led to Conspiracy being coincidentally released at the same time as the Fox Apes movie reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
- The novel went to extraordinary lengths to reference and complement other entries in the Planet of the Apes mythos, most notably by using many elements of the semi-official Promotional Newspapers given away at the time of the original movies. 'The Ape' newspaper is explicitly mentioned, on sale for 5 frailins, along with "Zuuba's tanned man-pelts", the newest "Rea Voom 88" gun from "Zeat & Zeat weapons" and Zarka, the chief government spokesman. The references to the Juno space mission were inspired by the 2008 'ANSA Public Service Announcement'.
- "In for a frailin in for a gridgen" is apparently an old ape saying.
- Dr. Zaius quotes a passage from Sacred Scrolls (fifth scroll, seventh verse) concerning a misguided ape named Vonus.
- The meeting of the High Council announces the "year 1194 of our Lawgiver" (which would put their 'year zero' as either 2784 or 2761, depending on whether the meeting took place in 3978 or 3955 A.D.).
- Ape City is spread across two mountains separated by a deep chasm, but linked by a bridge formed from a huge ancient fallen tree, and part of the city is known as the 'Common District' or 'Commons', where commerce and law are based.
- Cornelius' expedition into the Forbidden Zone is ordered to shut down and move closer to 'Simia'.
- Ape legend suggests that apes had spread to other provinces, but had long ago lost contact with Ape City, and may still survive.
- Marcus' son Jaffe had visited 'Dowsa Falls' to look for signs of humans. This is probably the waterfall discovered by Taylor, Landon and Dodge, and may be named in honour of Dowsa.
- Dr. Zaius orders gelding of "human number 4", meaning Taylor, who soon after knocks over Dr. Milo during his escape attempt.
- The inlay cover of the book contained the blueprints for the five Liberty spacecraft.
- In online forums, Gaska elaborated that while he is under their control, parts of Landon's apparent flashbacks are actually mutant fabrications intended to cause mistrust between him and Taylor.
- A follow-up novel was originally planned for the end of 2013, which would explore what happened to George Taylor after he disappears at the beginning of Beneath the Planet of the Apes and before he reappears at the end. This was eventually published as Death of the Planet of the Apes in 2018.
- A further four parts of a six-novel arc were originally plotted, depending on sales of the first two books.
- ↑ Drew Gaska interview, by Dave Ballard - 'Simian Scrolls' #16 (2010)
- ↑ Death of the Planet of the Apes - The Conspiracy Apes
- ↑ Conversation with Drew Gaska - Comic Geek Speak Episode 1112 (August 10, 2011)
- ↑ Planet of the Apes Discussion Group
- ↑ An Interview with Andrew Gaska - Geekadelphia (August 25, 2011)