Ape-ril’s just getting started, baby. Today’s spotlighted character is the next big thing in the comics ape world. Don’t believe me? You will.
Booze. Guns. Apes. Globes. Everything a red-blooded, comics-reading American or ally thereof needs. Booyah.
Gorilla-Man (well, the first one) originally appeared in Men’s Adventures #26 in 1954. The Gorilla-Man is really Ken Hale, a dude who tracked down the Gorilla-Man in Africa… only to be cursed into becoming the Gorilla-Man himself! (How many times can I use “Gorilla-Man” in a sentence? Three so far. Let’s see if I can top it by the end of the column.)
So from what I gather, that was the last the world heard of Gorilla-Man before What If? #9, introducing the 1950’s Avengers:
And that was the last we heard of that until Avengers Forever, when the 50’s Avengers entered into the regular Marvel timeline, thanks to Kurt Busiek. And hey, we got a Frank Quitely drawing out of it:
But shamefully, Gorilla-Man once again fell into comics limbo. It would take a brave man to bring Gorilla-Man back to a world. A brilliant man. A man named… Jeff Parker.
Lo and behold, there is such a man, and he wrote a little mini called Agents of Atlas, a revitalization of the 50’s Avengers concept in the regular MU and present day. The blogosphere went crazy over it. I mean, it was the only series where one could find a robot carrying around a Gorilla-Man who was firing four automatic weapons at once:
This is exactly why comics are awesome.
And Mr. Parker didn’t stop there. The sales on Agents of Atlas weren’t the best, no, but it has a hardcover collected edition out that you can buy. And Jeff Parker is bringing the Gorilla-Man back for more Gorilla-Man action! Check out the upcoming X-Men: First Class #8 or perhaps Marvel Adventures: Avengers #14, in which the Agents of Atlas creative team, Jeff Parker and Leonard Kirk, will team up again to bring the Agents back! (MA: Avengers is the most fun comic Marvel is currently publishing. Forsake your possible prejudices against all-ages titles and pick up an issue!)
Comics Should Be Good: Telling you to buy good things. Oh yeah.
Gorilla-Man is finally getting the exposure he so rightly deserves. I think I’m right in saying he’s Marvel’s first (and best) talking ape character, and since Marvel is sadly lacking an abundance of talking apes, they need all the Gorilla-Man they can get.
Now if only there’d be a comic where the Ken Hale Gorilla-Man fought the other Gorilla-Man, Arthur Nagan, a member of the Headmen, whose entire gimmick is that he’s a human head sewn on a gorilla’s body, and we’d finally have the Gorilla-Man-on-Gorilla-Man action we all so crave. (And that’s four. Huzzah!)
Look, I give you pictures by Coker! Djurdjevic! Kirby! Kirk! Quitely! The best artists in comics love Gorilla-Man. So do I. And, hopefully, so do you.