Through the magic of Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited, I was able to read this book a few days before the dead wood copy hit the stands. As was announced on Tuesday, the current title showcasing the Agents of Atlas (simply titled “Atlas”) is going to be shut down. Many of those characters, however, are compelling in their own right. One such character is Gorilla-Man.
It’s “Gorilla-Man” on the cover, but “Gorilla Man” in the indicia. Whatever the case, dash or no, this is one simian who kicks ass and has fun doing it. For sake of keeping things uniform, in this review I’ll refer to Ken Hale as the Gorilla-Man.
As has become standard with Atlas comics, the absurd makes its way to these pages. By absurd, I mean fun, and by fun I’m referring to Borgia Omega, a clever design cast from an amalgamation of science fiction concepts. With cutouts and implants of relatives and a body not unlike the tentacular device of Doctor Octopus, Borgia sets about trying to claim relics of his ancestors, whereupon he runs afoul of Gorilla-Man.
Parker does not shy away from humor in the least. After apprehending one of Borgia’s hired guns and carrying her away fireman-style, Gorilla-Man receives a call from Jimmy Woo. From Jimmy’s perspective, all he can see is the henchwoman’s hind end and the crest of Gorilla-Man’s noggin. Chuckle-worthy, indeed, and just a sample of the range of humor Parker employs in all of his writing. Like Giffen, Parker finds ways to interject humor in the most serious of books.
Parker doesn’t stop with innuendo, however, as he takes the absurd, like Borgia, and crafts compelling tales that are classic comic book fare.
While the adventure features Gorilla-Man following the trail of Mustafa Kazun, it sparks some flashbacks to early on in Ken Hale’s life, before his soldier days, before his gorilla ways. The first of the flashbacks is to Missouri and the year is 1930 and we see how Ken Hale receives deliverance from a situation that has passed him by.
Once we make our way to the present day, Gorilla-Man meets Atlas loyalist Ji Banda, who briefs Hale (and us) on the situation facing them.
I’ve been a fan of Caracuzzo’s art since I first saw it in “Last Resort” almost a year ago to the day. His art is not fit for every subject matter, but in a story featuring a mechanically monstrous head and a talking gorilla with a side of attack babes, Caracuzzo’s art is pitch perfect. If I didn’t know better, I would presume he and Parker crafted this entire tale specifically to Caracuzzo’s strengths.
Following the cliffhanger ending of the main story, there’s a two page spread of Ken Hale answering reader mail that is chuckle-worthy and a nice way to fill out the issue.
Rounding out the issue, and compensating readers for the extra hundred cents, is a reprint of the tale “It Walks Erect!” from the 1973 comic “Weird Wonder Tales” #7. This story features the tale of how Dr. Arthur Nagan became a gorilla-man in his own right. The fact that this tale is included is an odd choice, but after reading the letters page with Ken Hale, some sense can be drawn. It also boosts the quality of the main tale by comparison.
Finish this issue off with a sketch page from Giancarlo Caracuzzo and this issue is one of the best on the stands this week from the big two, maybe even this month. “Atlas” may be waning -- again -- but the characters of Atlas don’t have to fade into obscurity -- again -- when Jeff Parker still has ideas like this.