Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes": My Favorite Five Smart Apes

I am extremely excited about this weekend's premier of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes".  I've enjoyed the "Planet of the Apes" book, I've watched the movies (including the disappointing 2001 movie), and I've even watched the TV show and the cartoon.  The concept of mankind's decline and the rise of the apes was extremely intriguing to me as a kid and it's stuck with me ever since.  The question isn't whether or not I will watch this movie.  The question is whether I will watch it tomorrow or if I will hold out until Sunday.

Anyway, I was checking out Newsarama earlier today and came across their Top 10 List of the All-Time Smartest Apes, which got me thinking not of my all-time favorite smartest apes, but my all-time favorite smart apes.  Frankly, I don't care if my apes are geniuses.  I just like smart apes (monkeys, too!).  I thought it would be fun to hightlight Five of My All-Time Favorite Smart Apes:

5. Gorilla-Man (AKA Arthur Nagan): Marvel Comics has lots of Gorilla-Men (I even profiled one of them on this very blog many months ago), but Arthur Nagan was my first Gorilla-Man and he remains my favorite.  Imagine that you are a highly skilled surgeon who has learned how to successfuly transplant animal organs to people.  Now imagine that the animals get a bit peeved at your and end up turning the tables and manage to transplant your own head onto the body of a gorilla!  That's the story of Arthur Nagan.  Dr. Nagan isn't a very nice gorilla-man.  He's fought the Defenders and She-Hulk and Spider-Man and the Avengers.  And he usually gets beat up pretty bad in the process.  But he looks pretty cool with his giant ape body and little human head.  Personally, I would love to see this Gorilla-Man team up with the Franz Radzik Gorilla-Man against the Ken Hale Gorilla-Man.  Frankly, I'm not sure who would come out on top, but I'm sure it would be one heck of a battle.

4. Low Evolutionary (AKA Charles Darwin): Once again, I wrote about this character many months ago.  Marvel Comics did a little experiment called Marvel Apes.  Imagine a world where apes evolved human like intelligence.  Heroes like Iron Man, Bruce Banner the Hulk, and Nick Fury don't exist.  Instead, we have Iron Mandrill, Bruce Bananner the Hulk, and Nick Furry.  The planet of the Marvel Apes is pretty much like the rest of the Marvel Universe, except that its inhabitants are much more savage and are much more likely to beat their opponents to death rather than rehabilitate them.  There was a series of short-stories at the back of each comic.  Originally, they told the origin story of the Marvel Apes, but eventually they told about the time that Charles Darwin pissed off the Ancient One and got mystically exiled to the Planet of the Marvel Apes.  L-ook-i the God of Mischief almost immediately decided to create some chaos by splitting Darwin into three forms (Human Darwin, Ape Darwin, and Future Human Darwin).  Eventually, Future Human Darwin used his super-science to transform Human Darwin into the Low Evolutionary, a simian version of Marvel's High Evolutionary.  Super-evolved hijinks happened and the Low Evolutionary ended up kicking Ape Darwin's and Future Human Darwin's butts.  He then flew off into the wide-blue somewhere and hasn't been seen since.  Which is a shame, 'cuz Low Evolutionary is a really cool character, both visually and in terms of power.

3. Hit-Monkey: Hit-Monkey isn't so much a smart monkey as opposed a vengeance-driven monkey.  Hit-Monkey's clan rescued an assassin from near death.  During his recovery, the man spent many hours training and exercising.  Hit-Monkey watched and learned.  Eventually, the assassin's enemies tracked him down and not only killed him, but also the clan of monkeys (minus Hit-Monkey).  It was then that the Hit-Monkey picked up his first gun and took out the enemy assassins.  Hit-Monkey, guided by the assassin's ghost, has since spent his life taking out assassins and anyone else connected with his tribe's killers.

2. Gleek: Long before I read any comics, I was hooked on the Super Friends cartoon and my three favorite characters were created especially for that cartoon: The Wonder Twins and their blue space monkey named Gleek.  His main power seems to be his stretchy tail.  I know that many people don't like the Twins or their animal sidekick (or any animal sidekick, for that matter), but they were always my favorites.  I remember playing Wonder Twins at my elementary school many, many years ago, banking shape-changing charges with my friends, and transforming into all sorts of space animal shapes.  Gleek never quite made the transition from TV to the comic books.  He appeared in the Super Friends comic book a few decades back, but otherwise hasn't been revived.  Which is a complete and total shame, IMHO.

1. Speedball (AKA Marvel Apes' Robbie Baldwin): I've already talked about Marvel Apes and my favorite cosmic ape.  Now I want to talk about my favorite smart ape, who also comes from the planet of the Marvel Apes: Speedball!  Speedball is a chimp version of Marvel's bouncing human hero by the same name.  This simian Speedball eventually becomes a pariah and a traitor after he rescues some humans from his fellow Ape-vengers.  He relocates to the regular Marvel Universe, where he briefly trained to be an Avenger and fought to protect humanity from both the Marvel Apes and the Marvel Zombies.  He's still bouncing somewhere around the Marvel Universe, just waiting for the right comic creator to pen the perfect story for our bouncing ball of fur.

Who's your all-time favorite smart ape?

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