WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers #19 by Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Justin Ponsor, Erick Arciniega and Cory Petit, in stores now.
In Marvel's current Avengers series, Earth's Mightiest heroes have moved from one great battle to the next. It all started when the team re-assembled to battle the Final Host. From there, they went on to deal with Namor, then a vampire civil war that was secretly orchestrated by Dracula and now, they are in the thick of a battle against the Dark Elf Malekith and his armies in the "War of the Realms" event currently overtaking Marvel.
In Avengers #19, we see the attack on Avengers Mountain that takes place after the events of War of the Realms #2. As legions of Frost Giants cross the ocean to attack the refugees holed up in the Avengers' new base of operations, the facility's caretaker, Gorilla-Man, proves instrumental in staving off the assault. However, his heroic efforts take a dark turn when the final page of the issue reveals a shocking twist: Gorilla-Man is a traitor, and he answers to someone else.
The Fall of Gorilla-Man
After the Avengers moved into a dead Celestial's body in the North Pole, Black Panther appointed Ken Hale, aka Gorilla-Man, as an Agent of Wakanda and head of the base's security. It was quite the promotion for the character, who has more or less never taken part in any of the Avengers' big missions. Now, Hale is a crucial part of the superhero machine, and his responsibilities are great.
Gorilla-Man demonstrates his devotion in Avengers #19, where he puts his life on the line to activate Avengers Mountain's defense systems. Thankfully he survives the attack, and his heroic acts lead to the defeat of Malekith's army.
But as the issue comes to a close, Gorilla-Man goes to the Mountain's detention wing, where he pays a visit to Sarge, the demon dog, who is a member of the Legion of the Undead and Dracula's vampire order. It's there that we learn the horrible truth: Gorilla-Man is secretly working for the vampire lord. "I serve Dracula," he says, a regretful expression on his face. "I serve the Legion of the Unliving. I... am a loyal subject of the Kingdom of the Damned."
An Ill-Conceived Bargain
Fortunately, Gorilla-Man is not a mustache-twirling turncoat. The truth of the matter is that the curse of the Gorilla-Man has taken its toll on Ken Hale, and he somehow, at some point, turned to Dracula to put an end to it. But of course, the vampire leader has plans of his own, and he made an agreement with the C-list superhero. He would be his inside man in Avengers Mountain and, eventually, he would put an end to his curse. How that is possible, exactly, remains to be seen -- will Dracula turn Hale into a vampire, will he find someone else to take on the curse of the Gorilla-Man? Or will he simply find a way to kill him?
Whatever Gorilla-Man's ultimate fate will be, the unfortunate truth is that he has betrayed the Avengers to get it. Sure, he now expresses regret, showing that he made the bargain during a low moment, but as Sarge tells him, his bed is made and he must lie in it.
In fact, we get an idea of the extent of Gorilla-Man's betrayal at the beginning of Avengers #19, when Hale meets up with Ursa Major.
In Avengers #17, Dracula and his vampires were confined to Chernobyl. At the time, this seemed like a defeat for the vampire lord, but the final page of that issue revealed that this was always his plan. Now, in the exchange between Ursa Major and Gorilla-Man, we learn that Ursa (who is also betraying his own team and government) followed Hale's directions to confine the vampires to Chernobyl. However, the kicker is that Ursa is under the impression that Gorilla-Man's orders come from Black Panther. What he doesn't know is that Gorilla-Man is playing him in favor of the vampires.
So what do the vampires want with Chernobyl? It's difficult to say. For now, all we know is that a threat that appeared to be dealt with for the time being is actually clear and present. In fact, it's unfolding right under the Avengers' own roof.