Written by Sean RyanIllustrated by Ig GuaraInked by Ruy Jose.Cover by Francis Manapul.
I love monkeys in superhero comics. There's just something so wonderfully fun about the archetype of the intelligent monkey/orangutan/gorilla that just screams Silver Age insanity at it's finest. In my perfect comics line there'd be at least one alternate reality in the multiverse populated entirely by intelligent apes. So when I heard tell that comics' original Sinister Simian, the wonderfully alliterative Gorilla Grodd, was getting his own one-shot in which he has seized control of Gorilla City and conquered the entirety of the African continent, I was like 'where, when, and how much of my money do you need?'
A single issue tie-in to the current Flashpoint storyline occurring at DC, the book is a snapshot of Grodd's rule in this alternative reality where Barry Allen never became the Flash, Superman isn't around, Hal Jordan isn't Green Lantern, Batman isn't who you think he is, and the entirety of the DCU has become a significantly different and not altogether nice place. Grodd is a Flash villain, a diabolical outcast of an advanced utopian society of intelligent gorillas, and a frequent enemy that the scarlet speedster has dealt with fairly handily despite the evil ape's impressive physical strength and potent telepathic abilities. So what happens when a villain who has yearned for nothing else than glorious conquest finally gets what he wants? Well, there's the old adage about being wary of what one wishes for, as you just might get it.
This book should've been a slam dunk, but it left me more than a little disappointed. Granted they only had so much room in the story to detail Grodd's rule of Africa, but I'm a little confused as to how the population of one remote city goes on to conquer the world. Yes, Gorilla City had advanced technology, but I'm not seeing much of it on display here. And the whole notion that Grodd managed to conquer the entire African continent seems a bit. . .much. I admit gorilla soldiers would be hell on wheels in a melee, but with enough armor-piercing rounds even the biggest 800-pound death machine is going to drop like the proverbial bag of dirt. Maybe it's my Silver Age sensibilities intruding on a contemporary one-shot but I can't help feeling this was a missed opportunity. Basically, I want my lasers and jetpacks, and perhaps a sense that Grodd is working his way up the ladder. I'm no military strategist, but last I checked Africa wasn't populated by redshirts from Star Trek.
Another problem was characterization. My memories of Grodd from the comics was always that of a scheming megalomaniacal type. This Grodd. . .well, he's a bit of a mope. Granted, he is in a position where he has everything he could ever want and it's lost all it's luster, but I can't help but feel writer Sean Ryan could've really cut loose and made DC's resident simian supergenius a delightfully batshit mix of Leonidas from 300 and Doctor Evil. It was a decent character sketch of the villain in the Flashpoint universe, but it struck me a waste of potential.
The art is gorgeous though. Granted there's no super-scientific apparatus to be seen, but Ig Guara draws some mean-looking monkeys (yes, I know. Gorillas are apes. Tell it to my inner 8 year-old), and he brings to life some brutal combat sequences. There's another Silver Age simian-themed character who shows up in these pages and. . .yeah. It doesn't end well.
Good, but not great. Let's see what else this crossover has in store.
Ps. Look, DC. . .I know you've got bills to pay but did we really need 11 pages devoted to advertisting merchandise for the Green Lantern movie and extolling the virtues of Subway sandwiches? Just sayin'.
I'm Stacy Dooks, a writer living in Calgary, Alberta I'm a fan of all things popular culture, literary, and all points in between, and have pretty much committed large chunks of both The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and DC's Who's Who to memory. Whether or not that's entirely a good or bad thing I leave to the discerning reader.
This blog is an experiment in creating a public forum for my discussions about comics, pop culture, and writing and what they mean to me. Thanks for stopping by!