Last issue’s cliffhanger didn’t involve cliffs or hangings, but it did lead into this issue where Ken Hale (a.k.a. Gorilla-Man) and his new found bestest buddy, Banda, try to evade the troops of Mustafa Kazun as they try to find –- and take down -– Mustafa Kazun! Crazy, zany, pulpy action to be sure.
Parker uses the budding relationship between Banda and Hale to pour on the flashbacks as we get another peak into the life and times of a pre-knuckle-dragging Ken Hale. It’s a bit of an obscure time and really bizarre choice of confidant for the retrospective, but it is an enjoyable story all the same. Parker has clearly put more than little bit of thought into developing Gorilla-Man and his back-story, and the end result is an amusing tale. Hale comes across as a bit of an Indiana Jones type of character, and the history lesson describes how Hale came to serve alongside Nick Fury.
Caracuzzo delivers another great looking issue. His depiction of Gorilla-Man truly looks like a gorilla with the eyes of a man. Take a look in the mirror and take yourself to the zoo. Sit down on the other side of the glass from a gorilla and then go look in the mirror again. You’ll understand what I’m saying a little bit better then.
Caracuzzo and Charalampidis are a strong duo, and their combined efforts make this book look timeless. Caracuzzo’s art defies contemporary labels as it is, but Charalampidis’ use of color in what appears to be the Paper Cutout filter from Photoshop is a different approach that enhances the overall look of the book and makes it, as I’ve said, timeless. The story of Ken Hale and the Volcano People of Kala-Kulai could have been written and drawn in the 1940s, but it fits some effortlessly alongside the modern tale of Hale.
This book is a nice salve for those of us who enjoy “Atlas.” Heck, it’s a fun read for those of us who enjoy reading talking gorillas. If you don't enjoy “Atlas” and talking gorillas, you’ll want to go somewhere else. Just kidding. Parker and company round out the issue (and Marvel blatantly tries to justify the $3.99 cover price) by throwing in the tale of another Gorilla-Man, this one from “Tales to Astonish” #28. It’s offbeat and wacky, and guaranteed to make you appreciate the lead story in this issue a little bit more.
Time is running out for all things Atlas, and this series has but one more issue left. Given what I’ve read here (not to mention the couple dozen or so issues of Gorilla-Man and friends elsewhere) it’s quite obvious Parker has no shortage of ideas for Gorilla-Man. I just hope he gets to play them out somewhere. This is one knuckle-dragging, butt-kicking ape I enjoy reading about.