Well this week sees the release of Rise of the Planets of The Apes in cinemas across the UK and to celebrate this TQS is having a run down of the ten best Apes to grace the Superhero genre. Alas the apes of the comics aren’t really shown in a great light, as only three of the ten primates on the list are good guys, the rest are out to get us!
10. Hit Monkey
Ok so the first Ape isn’t a traditional Ape (Gorilla, Chimp etc) but he is a Snow Monkey and he is a trained killer of assassins so we will let that fly. Created for Marvel in 2010 by Daniel Way and Dalibor Talajić hit monkey started out as a peaceful creature. However after an unknown and wounded assassin collapsed near his monkey tribe his life changed. As the other monkeys of his tribe tended to the assassins wounds, Hit Monkey watches him carefully. Mimicking the assassins as he trains, Hit Monkey becomes well versed in the art of killing. But tragedy strikes when a group of assassins who had been hunting the wounded assassin arrive at the monkey tribe’s home and kills them all. Hit Monkey swears vengeance and kills them all with his new found skills and thus his journey around the globe to kill assassins begins.
This character was obviously created when Todd Macfarlane had a few too many to drink. The Spawn series as a whole has had a few bizarre enemies but Cy-Gor is perhaps the craziest. He’s an old friend of Spawn’s who was merged with a gorilla using cybernetics, to create a ridiculous killing machine. He was so popular that he even got his own 6 issue mini series. He’s also one of the more interesting looking MacFarlane creations.
8. Ape – X
Created by Mark Gruenwald in 1986 as an enemy for Marvel’s Squadron Supreme, Ape-X (also known as Xina) is a super-intelligent ape whose bottom half has been amputated and replace by a ‘mobile platform’. She was a member of the Institute of Evil, but when the Squadron finally defeated the institute they used behaviour modification to make her good. She became a member of the Squadron and even fell for teammate Tom Thumb, but it wasn’t to last as she had a psychotic episode due to the behavioural modifications and she slipped into a coma.
Originally know as Congo Bill who has starred in a lot of DC comic strips since the 1940s, Congorilla is a giant golden gorilla. Basically what happened was that Congo Bill was trapped in a cave with a magical ring. If he rubbed the ring his consciousness would be transported into a magical golden gorilla. So to save his life he did in fact rubbed the ring and Congorilla was born. Years later his human body died and he was trapped inside the golden gorilla, however not letting that stop him he became a hero in his own right and even joined the ranks of DC Comics greatest heroes and became a member of the most recent incarnation of the Justice League.
6. Red Ghost’s Super Apes
The brainchild of the legendary team of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee these characters are true creations of the early 1960s. Ivan Kragoff was a Soviet scientist who was trying to beat the American’s from landing on the moon first. He trained his own crew of Apes for the task, Mikhlo the gorilla, Igor the baboon and Peotr the Orang-utan. They left earth in a rocket and much like the fantastic four where exposed to cosmic rays (oh those pesky rays). They returned to Earth with super powers. Ivan himself could now turn invisible and walk through walls and therefore took up the name The Red Ghost. Mikhlo became super strong, Igor could now shapeshift and Peotr could now manipulate gravity. So basically these guys where created to fight the Fantastic Four and they did and they lost. But who doesn’t love mad Russian super apes?
5. The Ultra-Humanite
Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1939, Ultra-Humanite was originally a criminal mastermind with a crippled body and was probably the first real super villain Superman ever faced. He is also the first ever recurring villain in comics. The now famous Lex Luthor later replaced him as Superman’s archenemy due to the fact that an artist actually made a mistake and drew Luthor with a baldhead (in those days he had a full head of ginger hair), which made him look like Ultra-Humanite. He would later transfer his consciousness into a albino ape and this would be his defining look until this day, even though he has been in the body of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
4. Detective Chimp
Bobo T. Chimpanzee dresses like Sherlock Holmes and investigates the supernatural. That alone makes him a great addition to the list, but it is his ridiculous origin (yes all these apes have ridiculous origins) that really stands out. First appearing in Adventures of Rex the Wonderdog #4 (1952) as a mascot for a sheriff after solving his trainer’s murder, he would later have his origins re-imagined. In this origin he and his trainer had a detective act where Bobo was taught to respond to certain question to make it look like he was solving puzzles for the crowd. However Rex the Wonderdog took Bobo to the Fountain of Youth (I kid you not) and after drinking from it he could talk to any animal, including humans, and had perpetual youth. He would later join the Bureau of Amplified Animals and have many appearances throughout DC Comics, but he recently became a member of Shadowpact, a mystical group of heroes, and helps them solve impossible cases.
3. Gorilla Grodd
Created as a nemesis for The Flash, Gorilla Grodd is out to conquer the world with his superior ape intelligence. He has telepathy, which allows him control peoples mind, and he has been a major villain in the DC Comics canon since he first appeared in 1959. He and his tribe where standing about when a radioactive meteor (a later incarnation of his origin would have it be a spaceship) crashes near them and gives them all super intelligence, and Grodd his added telepathy. These apes create the most advanced and hidden city in Africa, Gorilla City (see what they did there), and Grodd has tried to take over more than once. His evil knows no bounds and he believes he is superior creature everyone else on the planet.
2. Gorilla Man
Ken Hale, created by Robert Q. Sale in 1954, was a soldier of fortune. He had adventures around the world and couldn’t help himself when he heard of the legend of the Gorilla Man. It is said that whoever kills him becomes immortal and with this knowledge Hale went guns blazing into the situation. However at the last minute he hesitated and changed his mind, but the Gorilla Man carried on attacking him and Hale had to put him down. The twist in the tale is that, yes you become immortal, but you also get turned into a gorilla. Hale decided to hide from the world and lived in a tree house on the outskirts of Congo. But through the years he has aided The Avengers and The X-Men in some of their missions and he has become a member of the Agents Of Atlas and is there current badass. He’s a wise cracking, cigar smoking gorilla who’s favourite weapon is a machine gun. What’s not to love?
1. Monsieur Mallah
Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani struck gold in 1964 with Monsieur Mallah. He is a Beret wearing, gun totting French super intelligent Gorilla, who is the assistant to The Brain (who is a brain in a jar). The Brain created him and together they formed the Brotherhood of Evil, who terrorized the Doom Patrol and Teen Titans throughout the years. But it was the characterisation that Grant Morrison gave Mallah on his run of Doom Patrol, which throws even more reason why he should be the number one ape. Morrison advanced the relationship of The Brain and Mallah when The Brain was put into a robot body. They both admitted that they loved each other, however when they kissed it triggered a self-destruct within Brain’s robot body and it was destroyed. The couple would resurface after that in search of a way to give Brain a body. They managed to give him a cloned one but that also went wrong. They would both die in the Salvation Run storyline (2007-2008) at the hands of Gorilla Grodd, who uses Brain’s jar to beat Mallah to death (oh the irony). But even though he’s dead he is still the most unique ape in the comic book world.