Monkey Monkey Monkey

Mmmmm, giant Kryptonite monkey…

One thing you should know about comics fans: We really love monkeys.

“What’s so strange about that?” I hear you ask. “All red-blooded Americans love monkeys!”

This is indeed true. But it still must be said: comic book fans really, really love monkeys.

A lot of this stems from comics’ “Silver Age” in the late-1950s to ’60s. DC Comics had an editor named Julius Schwartz, who had a method for spurring writers’ creativity in which he’d send them some utterly outrageous cover (Green Lantern giving away free power rings to passersby, the Justice League getting turned into trees, the Flash being transformed into a life-sized wooden puppet), then tell the writers to come up with a story based on that cover image. As it turned out, the covers that had DC characters interacting with a gorilla or monkey nearly always sold more copies than other comics, so you saw more and more DC comic books with monkey guest stars, monkey villains, like Gorilla Grodd, Monsieur Mallah, and Titano, or even monkey superheroes, like Detective Chimp or Beppo the Super-Monkey.

So, based on this noble, banana-eating heritage, comic book fans really love monkeys.

There are, however, limits.

DC decided to really push the envelope of monkey-love back in 1999. Back then, all of DC’s annuals would revolve around central themes — one year, it was pulp fiction, the next it was “DC One Million” with new versions of DC’s heroes in the far flung future. Well, in 1999, the theme was “JLApe” after the evil Gorilla Grodd succeeded in one of his oldest schemes: he turned the members of the Justice League into gorillas.

The Justice League of Apes?

Someone’s made monkeys of the JLA…

Green Lantern channels Charlton Heston

All in all, it doesn’t seem that bad, does it? Well, unfortunately, despite all the funky monkey art, the series as a whole just wasn’t very well written, but then again, lots of comics aren’t well written. The biggest problem is that, rather than being a single comic with a bunch of gorillas in it, it was seven or eight comics, in the space of a month, with a bunch of gorillas in ’em. That’s like chain-smoking Cuban cigars for a month, or guzzling bottles of fine champagne for a month — when you over-indulge in a luxury, it stops feeling luxurious.

So to summarize:

A few super-monkeys = good!

A whole bunch of super-monkeys over a dozen comics all in the same month = Let us not speak of this again.

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