For whatever reason, non-human apes have been a critical part of comics since the 1960s. However, that’s not necessarily something to complain about. They make great comic book characters when combined with the right creative team.
While comics portray a wide range of apes, from benign bonobos to evil siamangs, there are some apes (mostly gorillas), that stand out. These apes make graphic comics a more enjoyable place than ever, from major Flash villains and gorilla gangsters.
8 The Ape ’90s
Like anything else in comics, the apes of the ’90s were definitive products of their decade. Cy-Gor, short for cybernetic gorilla, is an antagonist/ally to Spawn, rippling in cables, glowing eyes and metal arms. The character was a success for MacFarlane Toys.
CyGor has a bizarre history. It involves Spawn being hunted down due to the belief Spawn made him. After his defeat, CyGor continued to train/arm the captive monkey and make him a cybernetic. He also killed a god of death, and committed vigilante justice against a murderous artist. However, it’s important to note Cy-Gor is only 80% gorilla – the remaining 20% of his brain is made of Spawn’s former military companion, Michael Konieczni.
7 The Marvel Apes Are From A Bananas Dimension
While many Marvel fans know Earth-616 as the prime comics universe, only the most devoted of comic fans recognize Earth-8101 as the home of the Marvel Apes. A universe in which all classic Marvel characters are ape versions of themselves, it first appeared in “The Final Chapter,” a story written by Karl Kesel and drawn by Ramon Bachs in Amazing Spider-Man Family #1.
While it may seem cheap to give an entire universe status, Earth-8101 has far too many characters to single just one out. The surprisingly cruel heroes of Marvel Apes are well-known with names such as Captain Ape Merica, Thoranguatan and Marvel Chimp.
6 The Super-Apes Are Simian Sinners From The Silver Age
There are far more heroic apes than enduring villainous ones. The Super-Apes are one of the most famous apes. The Super-Apes are led by Red Ghost the evil human villain. They have Igor, Peotor, and Mikhlo, who fill in for Red Ghost.
Each of these powers is loosely inspired by members from the Fantastic Four. Igor can shapeshift, Peotor magnetism and Mikhlo vulnerability. They have had to contend with a number of Marvel heroes, such as Deadpool and Spider-Man. Steve Rogers was the most recent to end the life of the simian crew.
5 Solovar Is More King Than Kong
Every Brutus has to have his Caesar and each Mordred their King Arthur. And every rebel-seeking rogue must have a noble leader. Solovar is another super-intelligent and telekinetic Gorilla Grodd.
Grodd may be a formidable villain but Solovar is part of the reason he is so powerful. Solovar is a heroic, valiant leader figure who taps into the noble side of primates, which is only usually found in works like the Sigourney Weaver-starring Gorillas in the Mist or Jane Goodall’s research. Gorilla mind fights can be quite cool.
4 Don Apelino Puts The “Ook” In “Mook”
There have always been apes who are involved in organised crime in comics. This may seem like a bold claim, but 2000 AD‘s Don Uggie Apelino follows the tradition of characters like the Mod Gorilla Boss to become a truly iconic character.
Don Uggie, a mutant ape, is responsible for causing trouble in Mega City One with Joe Bananas, Fast Eeek and his flunkies Joe Bananas. A unique entry in a long line of Judge Dredd antagonists, Don Uggie and his psycho simians have appeared in various continuities, including the Judge Dredd/Mars Attacks crossover.
3 Detective Chimp Solves C-Ape-rs
Few people would have thought that a mysterious, depressed, and alcoholic chimp could become an important figure in the DC Comics universe. But, then, very few Golden Age detectives possess the same uniqueness as Detective Chimp. Detective Chimp, a former sideshow performer who used the Fountain of Youth to get his drink, is one of DC’s most skilled sleuths.
A chimp without any true superpowers but Detective Chimp has an impressive record. This includes running an extra-dimensional bar (drunkenly), creating a team to defeat the Spectre and being the only chimp comics have ever managed to steal Sherlock Holmes’s face.
2 Gorilla Grodd Is A Primal Primate
Most Flash villains can be classified into either one of these two groups: blue-collar, gadget-wielders or angry speedsters. Gorilla Grodd, however, is an exception. Gorilla Grodd is a psychic simian who dreams of dominating the world. Many ape characters went out of style after the Silver Age but Gorilla Grodd is the exception to that rule.
Grodd has endured – not because of his great name and amazing powers, but because he is truly frightening. Chris Batista and Francis Manapul have used their talents to evoke humanity’s fear of primates. This has made Gorilla City’s villain one of Scarlet Speedsters most prominent foes.
1 Monsieur Mallah Is The Greatest Ape
A gun-toting mercenary with a faux French accent might seem most at home in a Die Hard movie, but when that mercenary is also a gorilla, that Die Hard movie is replaced by a Doom Patrol comic. Mallah was one of the original enemies. He followed the Teen Titans and Doom Patrol into television, games and other media.
While Mallah is a fun villain for a lot of reasons, the best thing about the character is his romance with the Brain: a scientist-turned-brain-in-a-jar who also serves as Mallah’s partner in crime. Their relationship is genuine and sweet, adding a depth that comic apes often lack.
Next: 5 Reasons Why Grodd Is DC’s Most Vicious Ape (& 5 Reasons Its Monsieur Mallah)