Terror on the Planet of the Apes was Marvel Comics' original storyline of apes and humans in a world they never made. The longest original story featured in Marvel's Planet of the Apes Magazine, Terror was entirely written by Doug Moench and drawn originally by Mike Ploog, Frank Chiaramonte, and then later by Tom Sutton, Herb Trimpe and Virgilio Redondo. Doug Moench remembered the origins of the saga: "Roy [Thomas] called me in and told me that Marvel had acquired the rights to Planet of the Apes. He said Gerry Conway was going to do it, but he had to drop out. He had written one page of notes. Roy gave it to me. It was a very loose thing, but it had the names Jason and Alexander; one human, one ape, they’re friends and they get into trouble. From that, I made them young. I wanted to make it an allegory on racism, which was implicit in the movies. And it seemed to me that kids are not as hung up on race... You know what I’m most proud of in there? They used all Latin names in the movies, but they didn’t think of Brutus. I used that for my evil gorilla leader. I thought that was great."
The art by Ploog and Sutton would be some of the finest they would create in their careers. Mike Ploog, taking advantage of the black & white format, would quickly move to producing richly textured pencils which would be published as he drew them with no inking whatsoever. Sutton, known for his wild designs would let himself go free and produce artwork far and beyond what had been seen in such comics before. The only problem would be that their work was so incredible, so inventive and so detailed that the reader could not be guaranteed of an installment in each issue. But when they did show up, they were great! Moench recalled: "I could say things to Mike Ploog in the beginning and then later on I wouldn’t have to say them. I could ask him what he liked to draw and then tailor a story to his preferences, and when a guy is drawing what he likes to draw he does a better job, right? That’s where the riverboat stuff like Gunpowder Julius and Steely Dan came from. I forget now what it was he liked, but he had mentioned that he liked Davy Crocket or frontier-type things, and that gave me the idea for those characters. Steely Dan is my version of Mike Ploog. He’s the huge guy just roaring with laughter, an extrovert. I just magnified that. He just loved it and did a great job. He got into one so much that we actually just printed the story from his pencils. I was at an ACBA meeting [the Academy of Comic Book Arts]. Neal Adams was President, I was Vice-President. Ploog was there. I always loved getting together with that guy. He’s a rodeo rider, a bronco buster ...he’s just this big guy. He’s shorter than I am, but he seems bigger. He had this huge beard. He showed up for a meeting, which he generally didn’t do, with the riverboat pages. After the meeting, looking at those pages, that was probably the best time. That was really a quantum leap for Ploog. He was capable of it all along, but he really got into that story. That was really great."
From its origins as a simple tale of two friends on the run, Terror soon developed into a bizarre and imaginative saga involving various ape-tribes, giant disembodied 'brains-in-jars', mutant monsters, an alien spaceship, flying monkey-demons and bionic apes. The meandering nature of the story was due to the open-ended run of the Planet of the Apes Magazine, but it's sudden cancellation resulted in an abrupt end with many themes still unresolved. Doug Moench first revealed details of an unused script for the next chapter of the story in 'Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology' by Rich Handley; this script is now available online. Like the Marvel adaptations of the first three movies, Terror... was revived by Malibu Graphics, who re-issued chapters #1-4 as a stand-alone comic series in 1991. At the end of 2011 BOOM! Studios announced the beginning of a new re-issue of the series to start in February 2012, even releasing cover images for the first four issues bearing their logo, but ultimately these plans were quietly dropped.
A human named Jason and his chimp friend, Alexander, listened as the Lawgiver announced he would be leaving for an indefinite period. In his absence, he left in charge an orangutan named Xavier. Returning home, Alex found his father has been injured by the Ape Supremacists, hooded gorillas. Jason's parents burned to death in a fire set by the bigots. Jason vowed to avenge their deaths. Alex joined Jason on a quest to find the killers. In a forest retreat, the Ape Supremacists were secretly headed by Brutus, 'Peace Officer' of Ape City. They captured Alex and Jason and brought them before the peace officer. Brutus' wife Zena arrived, furious at having found secret papers exposing the group. Brutus killed her where she stood, framing Jason for the crime. Under pressure from human-hating factions, Xavier sentenced Jason to death. Alex broke him out of jail and took him toward the Forbidden Zone, planning to find the Lawgiver and clear Jason's name. Alex convinced Jason to lead Xavier to Brutus' camp and expose him. Brutus delivered a touching yet hypocritical eulogy at his wife's funeral. Jason lost control of his anger, accusing Brutus of murder. He and Alex rushed the guards, stealing horses in the hope of luring Xavier to Brutus' camp. However, the plan failed when Ape Supremacists slaughtered Xavier's peace officers, giving Brutus more murders to pin on the fugitives.
Jason and Alex took refuge in the Forbidden Zone, where they discovered a race of timid, shaggy primates, a mutated hybrid of ape and human. Jason and Alex followed them into the caverns of the Inheritors, mutated descendants of mankind, where the Mutant Drones were using the beasts to build giant war machines for the Gestalt Mind. The mutants tried to enslave Alex and Jason, who ran for cover and ended up trapped in Sector Three between mutant-drones and Ape Supremacists. With mutant-drones and ape racists converging from both sides, Jason and Alex lured them into fighting each other. In a skirmish with more mutants, Alex pulled off a guard's hand and realized they were living machines. Apprehending the pair, the drones took them to the Supreme Gestalt Commanders. These giant brains were plugged into a massive room of machinery. The lead Inheritor, Be-One, ordered their deaths. Mutant Drones took them to a great arena. There, the Inheritors watched from above as Jason and Alex had to combat giant beasts alongside Brutus' First Lieutenant, Warko. At first, Jason and Warko bristled at working together, but with no other way to defeat the creatures, they joined forces and escaped. They freed the Lawgiver and fled the Forbidden Zone. Warko followed them back toward Ape City. Mutant-Drones escorted Brutus to the Gestalt Commanders. Brutus had previously formed a secret tactical alliance with the Inheritors, unknown to even his gorilla followers. Brutus had advised the Lawgiver to visit the Forbidden Zone and make peace with the Inheritors, intending to sieze Ape City once the Gestalt Mind had imprisoned the elder orangutan for him. The Lawgiver, aware of the Inheritors, had recognized Brutus' duplicity, but nonetheless agreed to meet with them in the hope of negotiating peace with the Gestalt Mind. Brutus now requested mutant-drones and war machines to stop the Lawgiver from resuming control of Ape City. However, the giant brains secretly planned to exterminate both the humans and the apes once their alliance with Brutus lost its usefulness.
Alex, Jason and the Lawgiver stopped for water, frightening a pack of the shaggy, mute humanoids. The Lawgiver tried to clean his wound but the river's current carried him away. Alex and Jason jumped in to save him, as did one of the creatures. The four were carried along for a while before dropping a half-mile over the side of a waterfall. Brutus chastised Warko for letting them escape. Jason's group fashioned a raft and headed downriver. They reached a friendly community of apes and humans, living in peace under the leadership of a gorilla named Gunpowder Julius and his human buddy, Steely Dan. Brutus reached the other side of the river and Dan and Julius prepared a trap for the combined ape/mutant armies, forcing a retreat. Jason vowed to kill Brutus and make him pay for his crimes. The group headed downriver and spoted a campfire. There, they met a band of nomads, apes and humans, clad in gypsy garb. The nomads were warm and welcoming, especially a beautiful woman named Malaguena. In the Ape City, humans had become the victims of widespread hate-crimes. A scribe told Xavier that three more humans had been slain by hooded gorillas and civil unrest filled the streets, but the inept Xavier was unable to act without guidance from Brutus or the Lawgiver. Elsewhere, the Mutant-Drones informed the Gestalt Commanders of Brutus' failure. Furious, the brains consulted in solitude. At that moment, Brutus arrived at the gypsy camp, flanked by Mutant-Drone forces. Steely Dan jumped Brutus from behind. The others joined in the fray, subduing the gorilla/mutant forces. Jason's group forced Brutus to lead them to the Inheritors' caves, the gypsy band keeping the gorilla's minions penned up until their return. Learning of the Inheritors' true plans, the group destroyed two of the giant Gestalt brains before making their escape. In the chaos, Brutus managed to free himself.
In Ape City, three hooded Ape Supremacists barged in and executed Xavier. The ape population thought the humans responsible and began terrorizing them. Beyond the Forbidden Zone, Julius and Dan parted ways with Jason's group. Upon his return, the Lawgiver scorned the inter-species fighting, shaming the masses into lowering their fists...for a moment. When another fight erupted, Alex and Jason got caught in the fray and accused each other of taking sides. Jason stormed off, ending their friendship. Warko rode to Brutus' camp to report the Lawgiver's return. Determined to maintain his reign, Brutus returned to Ape City to brand the Lawgiver a human-lover and appeal to others' bigotry. The Lawgiver exposed Brutus' treachery, and those assembled stood behind him. Ape Supremacists shot the Lawgiver. Jason pursued Brutus on horseback and beat him to a pulp. Others stopped him from killing the gorilla, and Jason was furious when Brutus was merely banished. Denouncing the Lawgiver, Jason hit Alex and departed the city alone.
In Brutus' abandoned camp, Jason found a map of an unnamed site to the east. As he headed east, Alex and Malaguena set out to find him. Jason encountered Lightsmith and his gibbon companion, Gilbert, who was mute but bright and friendly. The two were seeking the Psychedrome, a legendary storehouse of artifacts beneath the Forbidden Zone, so they could restore civilization. Travelling through Kansas, they stopped to spy on the Assisimians, a savage tribe led by Chieftan Maguanus. They had taken Alex and Malaguena captive but Lightsmith scared the apes into releasing their prisoners. Maguanus ordered their deaths, but they escaped and journeyed to South Dakota. There, they stared in awe at Lightsmith's home, inside Mount Rushmore. Brutus entered the Mutant Caves and demanded their war machines. Brutus and Warko reached the Assisimians' camp and interrogated Maguanus. Meanwhile, Jason found a village of peaceful, mountain-dwelling humans and apes with an American Indian-like culture. Jason's team made camp while Lightsmith and Gilbert resumed their search for the Psychedrome. Brutus and the Mutant-Drones sent their armies to trail the Assisimians, hoping this would lead them to Jason. Lightsmith accessed the Psychedrome, an alien ship embedded deep within the mountain. The aliens and their soldiers, a species of Winged Monkey-Demons, were waiting patiently for a chance to gain control of the planet. Jason and Alex followed Lightsmith into the Psychedrome. Inside, monkey-demons brought Lightsmith to the 'Conditioning Center', attached electrodes to his head and brain-washed him to be a "good person". Brutus fired a war-machine blast at the mountain, burying the cliff dwellings in an avalanche. Alex and Jason found the heart of the Psychedrome and encountered a multi-eyed alien called the Keeper of the Light. Brutus tortured Malaguena about Jason's whereabouts, and headed out with Mutant forces to learn the Psychedrome's secrets. Meanwhile, the monkey-demons finished brainwashing Lightsmith, but then Jason and Alex rescued him in the Keeper's shuttle. Meanwhile, in Ape City, two scribes found the Lawgiver near death.
Brutus and Warko discovered a silo full of missiles, lasers and other weapons of mass destruction. Alex spoted Brutus just as the ape's forces surrounded them, but a monkey-demon attack took priority. As apes, mutants and monkey-demons battled, Jason and Alex grabbed Lightsmith and ran for the door. Gilbert untied Malaguena and followed. In Ape City, physicians told Scribe Xirinius the Lawgiver's prognosis was grim. A cure was rumored to exist in the Forbidden Zone, and Thaddeus, a 13-year-old orangutan attendant, vowed to find it. At gunpoint, the Keeper guided Jason's group out of the complex. At that moment, Maguanus attacked, and the Mutant-Drones detonated the warheads, bringing down the mountain. Standing in the rubble, his army and dreams destroyed, Brutus killed Maguanus and vowed to make Jason pay for his interference. Thinking the fortress destroyed, the Keeper allied with them. As the Assisimians buried Maguanus, Brutus and Warko began a search for Jason. The Viking-garbed North-Apes offered Jason's group their friendship, saying Lightsmith had been abducted by the Snow-Shamblers - hairy mutes descended from man and ape. After the Snow-Shamblers had restored Lightsmith's mind, the North-Apes made peace with the primitives and gave Lightsmith and company the Longship for the journey home. The North-Apes made the Keeper stay, however, believing him to be the Oracle promised in their religion.
A squad of simian cyborgs - Gorilloids - besieged Brutus' army, killing all the mutants, and taking the apes captive. The Inheritors recognized the work of their old enemies, the Makers - mutated, deranged, metal-covered human scientists who survived the nuclear war by repairing their own bodies with bionics. Their latest creations, the Gorilloids, hunted other apes for cyborging but resented being subservient. Brutus allied with the Gorilloids, promising to kill their masters if they helped him conquer Ape City. Thaddeus reached the Forbidden Zone and encountered the Makers, who blamed him for the Gorilloids' betrayal. In Ape City a new peace officer is chosen - a gorilla named Moravius. Jason's group arrived just as the Gorilloids opened fire from a nearby ridge. Brutus and Warko planned to crush Ape City, then destroy the Makers and Inheritors as well. Jason and Alex moved the Lawgiver to safety and Alex was reunited with his parents. That night, Brutus and the Gorilloids marched on the city. The battle was short, the Gorillioids decimating the city and forcing the citizens to retreat into the woods. Brutus's victory was short-lived, though, for the bionic apes ignored his order to stop, reveling in wanton destruction. Furious, he mounted a war machine and killed them all. Moravius arrested him and Warko. As the citizens began rebuilding the city, Lightsmith returned to the ridge to reclaim his Wagon. Nearby, a cyborged Thaddeus reported the Gorilloids' fate to the Makers. Their battle with the Inheritors forgotten, the Makers vowed to kill every man and ape in the city.  
In the unused script for the next chapter - written by Moench and to be drawn by Herb Trimpe - Jason, Alex, Malaguena, Gunpowder Julius & Steely Dan assisted the apes in starting the rebuliding of the city after the catastrophic battle. Lightsmith and Gilbert went to his wonder wagon outside the city to look for something to help cure the Lawgiver. They spotted Thaddeus, who was ordered by the Makers to kill them both. Gilbert fought Thaddeus while Lightsmith stabbed him with a rusty hypodermic needle, knowing the injury a scratch from the needle had once done to him. Thaddeus collapsed, mumbling that the Makers were coming. The Makers heard his ramblings in their headquarters, where they had another squadron of Gorilloids ready, along with an eight-or-nine feet tall albino super-Gorilloid called Smashore. A Mutant-Drone was meanwhile spying on their plans and reported back to his Inheritor masters. The Inheritors decided to send their war machines to the ape city where they would combine with the apes to defeat the Makers. Both armies set off - the Gorilloids and their Makers from the ruined human city, and the Inheritor's army of Mutant-Drones from their mountain region home. In the human suburbs a rabble-rouser stirred up anti-ape sentiment. Jason, briefly at peace following the capture of Brutus, was once again filled with hate, especially after seeing the charred ruins of his parents home, and went to confront Brutus through his cell window. Lightsmith left the unconscious Thaddeus with Alex's parents as he and Alex went to the tempoary Council chamber to warn Moravius and the Scribes of another invasion, this time by the Makers. The Maker's Gorilloids attacked the devastated city and the shock somehow stirred the Lawgiver from unconsciousness. As Moravius, Lightsmith, Alex and Gilbert hurried to Brutus' war machine to try to repel the invasion, Jason, Julius & Dan tried to fight Smashore but he easily defeated them, and Brutus escaped when his cell was partly destroyed by the rampaging giant. They managed to get Smashore to fire at a shelf of rock directly above him, crushing him to death. Moravius and Lightsmith figured out how to use the war machine and had some limited sucess against the Gorilloids, but it wasn't until the Mutant-Drones arrived that there was any chance of defeating the Gorilloids. Attacked from both sides, the gorilloids were completely destroyed and the surviving Makers were taken as prisoners back to the Inheritors. The Mutant-Drones warned, however, that there would be no lasting peace between them and the apes.
A victory feast was held in the city that night but Jason was unimpressed and Alex invited him back to his parents home instead. As they approached, they saw the house ablaze. They found severly beaten Thaddeus inside, who told them before his death that Alex's parents had been taken away by figures wearing black hoods. Jason guessed that Brutus' followers restarted his campaign. They enlisted Moravius, Julius & Dan to try to find the kidnapped apes and Alex tackled the lead figure just as he was about to torch his parents tied to stakes. The others fought with the remaining hooded figures and chased them into the woods. Jason berated Moravius for claiming that apes were not all evil, but then the hooded leader was revealed to be the human rabble-rouser. Jason, humbled, trudged away to make peace with Brutus, who he believed was still in his cell. Instead he found the cell empty and heard Brutus' mocking laughter coming from a high ridge overlooking the city. THE END
- The Lawgiver
- Fugitives on the Planet of the Apes
- The Forbidden Zone of Forgotten Horrors
- Lick the Sky Crimson
- Spawn of the Mutant-Pits
- The Abomination Arena!
- A Riverboat Named Simian
- Gunpowder Julius
- Malagueña Beyond a Zone Forbidden
- The Planet Inheritors
- When the Lawgiver Returns
- The Magick-Man's Last Gasp Purple Light Show
- Up the Nose-Tube to Monkey-Trash
- Demons of the Psychedrome
- Society of the Psychedrome
- Messiah of Monkey Demons
- Apes of Iron
- Revolt of the Gorilloids
- To Meet the Makers
- Story completed but not published
- Glossary to the Planet Of The Apes Jim Whitmore (1976)
- Doug Moench interview, Comic Book Marketplace, May 1999
- Doug Moench interview, Comic Book Marketplace, May 1999
- (I can't remember where this great and very detailed synopsis came from - if anyone knows, please credit it.)
- Williams Marvel Comic Archiv (German)
- The Unpublished Doug Moench Apes Stories