Comic: "Marvel Apes"
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Karl Kesel
Artist: Ramon Bachs
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Plot: C-list superhero, The Gibbon, enrolls himself in a scientific study of superbeings being conducted at State University. The leader of the study decides to break into a dimensional experimentation lab to test her theories, only to screw up the machinery and transport both herself and The Gibbon to a dimension where the universe is populated by simian versions of the heroes/villains from Earth 616.
Review: If Joe Quesada ever came to you and asked for a story portraying Marvel superheroes as simian versions of themselves, how would you do it? Odds are it would come down to the choice between A) alternate dimension, B) pseudo-scientific doomsday device that causes humans to devolve, or C) some screwy time travel scenario. And coming off the heels of Marvel Zombies, you’d likely go with A.
I had never heard of “The Gibbon” prior to reading this comic, and rightly so. A man who has all the powers, and looks, of a gibbon? Doesn’t exactly sound like a winner to me, but then again, there are a lot of famous superheroes who are just man-animal combinations. Not the Gibbon, though. It turns out he’s just a loser hero-turned-villain-turned-hero who is just plain lame.
The postscript for the comic explain, in not so many words, that his own crappiness is part of the reason he fit this story so well. I guess that’s justification enough to have an outcast character launched into a dimension where suddenly he’s in the majority. The downside is that he’s not much of a superhero even in this universe. On the other hand, at least he’s out of the regular superhero dimension.
The real tragedy here is the abundance of simian wordplay in the comic. As soon as you read one of the ape civilians exclaim, “flingin’ feces,” you know you’re in for some trouble. And so the stream of puns continues, ranging from “bad” (Spider-Monkey and his nemesis, Dr. Otto Ooktavius) to “just stop” (Starmonks, Apebook, Monkhattan, etc). On the other hand, a number of the superbeings retain their original names because the writers couldn’t come up with a way to cram a simian reference into names like “Captain America”. Surely, they could’ve renamed Reed Richards as “Mr. Ape-tastic”.
Eventually, the wordplay does give way to a more serious note in the plot. I suppose it was necessary in order to give the comic some purpose beyond drawing out the “everything is now the ape version of itself” joke, but it didn’t do much for me. In fact, immediately after the close of the main story in the first issue, we’re treated to a brief history of the Marvel Apes universe from Uatu the Watcher (Ook-atu the Watcher?). It features, among other things, ape versions of both Galactus, and Hitler. I thought it was better than the actual story being told in the front half of the book. But hey, what do I know from ape-oriented stories.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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