Comics
Published February 28, 2019

Gorilla Man's Introduction to the Marvel Universe

Dig into the primate past of the 'Marvel Comics Presents' #2 co-star!

Every week we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to celebrate a major character's first appearance in the hallowed halls of the House of Ideas.

When Jeff Parker introduced the Agents of Atlas back in 2006, he reminded readers just how amazingly deep the stable of Marvel characters truly is. As we celebrate the House of Ideas' 80th anniversary, many creators are looking back to see who can be put into the spotlight. And with AGENTS OF ATLAS, that's exactly what Parker did with Jimmy Woo, Marvel Boy, Namora, Venus, M-11 the Killer Robot, and Gorilla Man.

Today, we're going to focus on the last character mentioned there, one who many consider the stand-out of the Agents of Atlas... None other than Ken Hale, the Gorilla Man. Currently featured in this week's old school-inspired MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #2, the wise-cracking expert fighter is spending these days kicking around with dragons, Avengers, and mercenaries, but his debut was much different...

Marvel Comics Presents (2019-) #2

Way back in 1954's MEN'S ADVENTURES #26, readers met a a man named Kent Hale as he screamed himself awake from a nightmare about two apes beating each other mercilessly. Though his wife Lil told him to forget it, Hale found himself haunted my images of these raging primates, their screams, and the idea of a gorilla-man hybrid...

Going mad, Hale tried to find an answer to his afflictions, but he proved physically healthy. He also did some research into the idea of "gorilla men," but found nothing at the library. However, upon visiting his old friend Benson, he finally got some useful information.

The old explorer told him a legend about a half-man, half-gorilla who had to defend his kingship by taking on all comers. The afflicted man made his way to the location of the lore as soon as possible, but had trouble finding someone who would help him find the gorilla man as visitors called it a superstition and locals refused to help.

Agents of Atlas (2006) #1

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Though the dreams and visions stopped, Ken knew that he absolutely had to find the Gorilla Man, so he searched on his own. He survived many of the area's greatest dangers, but eventually heard the animalistic screams from his dreams.

Running to track down the source, Hale finally found himself face-to-face with the creature from his nightmares. In response, the man from New Haven rushed the beast! During the ensuing brawl, Ken found himself getting stronger and his opponent weakening... However, when the thing from his dreams fell dead at his feet, Hale did not celebrate, for he had been turned into the Gorilla Man himself! In the process, he gained immortality and gorilla-like strength, but retained his mind and ability to speak.

Hale kicked around for a time, but the character's inclusion in WHAT IF? #9 from 1978 helped cement his place in history. That issue wondered what an Avengers team would have looked like if it had been put together in the '50s. That team consisted of Woo, Hale, Marvel Boy, 3-D Man, Venus, and M-11! Parker and company then used that story as the launching point for AGENTS OF ATLAS.

Gorilla Man (2010) #1

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Gorilla Man has served on the first incarnation of the monstrous Howling Commandos, served on the Atlas Foundation inner circle, fought as an Avenger, starred in his own solo series, and even palled around with Deadpool making some scratch with the Mercs for Money. And this week, he can be seen in the pages of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #2!

So go read MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #2 at your local comic shop right now!