He taught Tarzan how to swing.
One's a gorgeous super-sleuth who speaks thirteen languages and knows karate. One's a comic book artist who happens to be a talking gorilla. They Fight Crime
Spinning off from Showcase
#77 (September, 1968), Angel and the Ape
was a goofy humor series published by DC Comics
for six issues in the Silver Age
. Starring Angel O'Day and Sam Simeon, the title featured wacky mysteries in the vein of Scooby-Doo
. The fact that Sam was a talking ape was played completely deadpan. After their cancellation, the duo spent the next couple decades in comic book limbo, save for a few cameos (including Rick Veitch's Swamp Thing
More memorable is the four-issue limited series from 1991 that brought the pair back into The DCU
. Written and illustrated by master humorist Phil Foglio
, the miniseries revealed that Sam was actually from Gorilla City, which explained his ability to talk, and that he was the grandson of none other than Gorilla Grodd, nemesis of The Flash
, from whom he inherited low-level psychic abilities that make him appear as a normal human to onlookers. This revival also brought back the Inferior Five
, another 60s humor comic; member Dumb Bunny turned out to be Angel's half-sister.
Most recently, in 2001, Vertigo Comics
released another four-issue miniseries by Howard Chaykin. Though extremely risqué, it maintained the same kind of humor.
Never the most popular characters, Angel and the Ape remain noteworthy for the sheer silliness of the premise.
Angel and the Ape provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Ace: Angel.
- Action Girl: Angel.
- Always Second Best: In the Foglio miniseries, living with a super-strong stepmother and half-sister motivated Angel to become a Badass Normal.
- Bad Boss: Stan Bragg, Sam's egomaniacal editor.
- Beast and Beauty
- Big Applesauce: Though originally called "Fun City", the city where the comic is set is soon officially identified as New York.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: After he quits Stan Bragg, Sam goes to work for "DZ Comics" working for "Morton I. Stoops", a stand-in for DC editor Mort Weisinger who looks like an ape himself.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Sam, who fits the "sensitive artist" mold to a T, except for being, y'know, a 500 pound gorilla.
- Calling the Old Man Out: When Sam takes on Grodd.
- Covers Always Lie: The last three issues of the first series featured Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster, neither of whom ever appeared in the comics.
- Darker and Edgier: The Chaykin series. Well, not darker, but far edgier. Lampshaded when Sam is assigned to work on Darker and Edgier versions of Stanley and His Monster (which had also been revamped by Phil Foglio in the early '90s) and Sugar And Spike.
- Dumb Blonde: Dumb Bunny. Averted with Angel, who is a bona fide genius.
- The Everyman: Sam, aside from being a gorilla.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys
- Evil Old Ape: Grodd.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Dumb Bunny. Also Angel in the Chaykin miniseries.
- Interspecies Romance: Sam and Dumb Bunny.
- Joker Immunity: Justified when King Solovar of Gorilla City takes Grodd in yet again at the end of Foglio's miniseries. Sam asks for a real explanation why Grodd's still around; Solovar replies that, if he can't find a way for humanity and Gorilla City to live in peace, he'll have Grodd around to lead them to war instead.)
- Money, Dear Boy: Why Sam does schlocky comic books instead of the more refined art he wants to do.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Sam is a beleaguered comic book artist, which allowed for some satire about the industry.
- Ms. Fanservice: Angel and Bunny.
- Neck Snap: Grodd does this to Bunny in the Foglio miniseries, but it paralyzes rather than kills her, and Sam talks a reality-warping piece of alien technology into fixing her up.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: In his spare time, Sam enjoys meditating and playing the sitar.
- Nice Guy: Sam.
- No Ontological Inertia: Discussed. In Foglio's miniseries, Grodd's plan revolved around the "Green Glob", a Reality Warping artifact that only made temporary changes. Sam defeats Grodd by getting a temporary power boost and using it to make a more permanent change to Grodd's mind. ("What happens to my powers now is irrelevant. If I hit you with a hammer which then disappears, you've still been hit with a hammer.") Later, Sam manages to talk the artifact into permanently healing a paralyzed Dumb Bunny. (It immediately Ascends To A Higher Plane Of Existence after going beyond its programming.)
- Only Sane Ape: In the Chaykin miniseries, Sam is the only character who isn't an oversexed idiot. (Well, Angel's not an idiot, but she's still oversexed.)
- Platonic Life Partners: Sam and Angel. (Foglio's series teases a Relationship Upgrade, but they decide that even with a species change for Sam, they're Better as Friends.)
- Private Detective: Angel.
- Psychic Powers: Sam in the Foglio miniseries.
- Sequential Artist: Sam.
- Show Within a Show: The comics Sam draws, including "Jungle Girl", "Real Ape", "Atilla Gorilla", "Deus Ex Machina Man" (a reference to Phil Foglio's strip "What's New?"), and "Hey Boy and Miss Thing".
- Take That: Sam's boss is a nutso comic book editor named "Stan Bragg".
- Talking Animal: Sam.
- They Fight Crime: See Wunza Plot.
- The Unintelligible: Sam in the Silver Age comics; he could only talk in growls and snarls ("Urgle, gleek, glug, raack, meerk, blip brack!") that only Angel could understand. Translations were usually provided that showed he was actually quite erudite, and most of the time he only "spoke" through thought balloons anyway. The Foglio revamp just had him speaking normally.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the Silver Age comics, nobody seems to care that Sam is a gorilla. (The psychic powers from Foglio's miniseries were a Cerebus Retcon of this; Sam's just powerful enough to keep passerby from realizing that the big, hairy guy's a gorilla — unless he's distracted. Then the screaming starts.)
- The Voiceless: Sam is unable to speak in the Chaykin miniseries.
- Vulgar Humor: The Chaykin miniseries is pretty much non-stop sex jokes, stopping just short of full frontal.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Sam gives Grodd one at the end of the foglio series by giving him an irresistible craving for junk food. Since only humans make junk food, Grodd can't wipe out humanity.
- Weirdness Censor: Sam's low level psychic powers in the Foglio miniseries keep people from noticing he's a gorilla. Most of the time.
- Wunza Plot: She's a gorgeous super-sleuth who speaks thirteen languages and knows karate. He's a comic book artist who happens to be a talking gorilla. They Fight Crime!