Gorillas and pop culture have been linked forever. Nigh human creatures of immense strength are a savory draw for any writer or artist. Certainly DC Comics made the most of them with their unusual but weirdly savvy policy to feature gorillas on their covers when they noticed that such comics sold better. Marvel had its share of Gorillas and as a necessary offshoot Gorilla Men. This volume features one of those Gorilla Men, but also pays homage to many others.
Ken Hale, the Gorilla Man was first excavated by Don Glut as part of the ragtag 50's Avengers who popped up in the pages of the What If? #9. This is one of my favorite issues of the run under a dynamic Jack Kirby cover. I was not alone as these Avengers popped up again in the pages of Avengers Forever by Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco. That appearance led them to get their own limited runs under the name of Agents of Atlas.
And among the stand outs in this series by Jeff Parker is Gorilla-Man. So much so, that he eventually got his own stand alone limited series.
The series offers up a nifty little story which slowly but surely is actually Ken Hale's secret origin and we get insights into the character far beyond the limits of his other appearances. We see him as young orphan scooped up from poverty by a charismatic man and who becomes swashbuckling adventurer long before he sought immortality and so became the Gorilla-Man.
Also in these issues are stories of other Marvel Gorilla-Men, not the least of which is Arthur Nagan, leader of the notorious Headmen. We get his origin story by Weird Wonder Tales #7 from its original 1950's source, the twenty-first issue of Mystery Tales.
We also get the two-part story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of the Gorilla-Man who became so by use of the powers of science.
And finally we get the story of Ken Hale himself from the vintage pages of Men's Advnture. And for those patient enough to follow this post this far, here's a treat, the full story of how one man became a gorilla.
I found this volume for tiny money and enjoyed it thoroughly. If you find it cheap I recommend it mightily, despite the somewhat indifferent cover which reproduces the first issue's. The interiors are much much better from the across the whole of Marvel history.