I hate to tell you this, friends, but Ape-ril is drawing to a close. Fear not-- there's still a few days of ape-y goodness coming up. Today: the most bizarre Golden Age villain of them all, who went through a bit of an ape phase a while back...
The Ultra-Humanite, real name unknown, is considered to be comics' first super-villain. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Action Comics #13, he faced off against Superman several times. Originally, he was a bald mad scientist (remind you of anyone? Yes, Luthor stole U-H's shtick in later years) with a vast and terrible intellect who tried to kill Superman and take over the world a couple times before he was killed. Now, here's where it gets weird.
A few issues later, the Ultra-Humanite reappeared in the body of a woman:
I'm pretty sure this makes him the first transsexual comics character by a wide margin. And this is the body he joined the Nazi party in. ...now I'm wondering if he tried to date Hitler. Why can't I turn off my brain!?!?
Dolores Winters was an actress who was killed in order to put U-H's brain in her body. Why he picked an actress, I'm not exactly sure; I can, however, easily deduce that the Ultra-Humanite has some issues with gender and species that he's clearly trying to work out (Peter Milligan would have a field day with this character). As body after body deteriorated due to organ rejection or suchlike, the Ultra-Humanite moved onto weirder and weirder forms.
For instance, he reappeared years later in the body of a big albino gorilla. Because really, the only thing better than a gorilla is an albino gorilla. (The only thing better than an albino gorilla is, of course, a gorilla that is some bizarre color gorillas shouldn't be. I guess that means there are two things better than a gorilla... whatever). In this form, depending on which continuity he was in, he took on the Justice Society, the Justice League, and Infinity, Inc. Ultra-Humanite's ape form is his longest-lasting and most popular, as seen by his appearances on the Justice League cartoon. And he's even got his own action figure now! Things are looking up.
In the terrific Strazewski/Parobeck Justice Society series, the Ultra-Humanite appeared in a somewhat-evolved gorilla/human hybrid form, or... something. Anyway, the story was great, so dig these up in your quarter boxes.
In addition to the above-mentioned bodies, the Ultra-Humanite has also appeared as a giant insect, a dinosaur, a brain in a jar, and Johnny Thunder. Heh. However, nothing can top his albino ape form. Nothing, I say!!! I defy you to think of a cooler appearance.
It's ripe time for Ultra-Humanite to return, perhaps in a classic ape form. That is, if he can find a new albino ape to transfer his brain into. I bet the old body's a bit... decomposed by now. Let's hope, if he is to reappear, he gets to wear a top hat, like in the cartoon:
Now there's a dapper chap.
An absolutely fantastic Ultra-Humanite resource can be found at this link. It told me everything I needed to know. And I needed to know all.