365 Reasons to Love Comics #105
It seems like Ape-ril is passing by without too much look at anything from Marvel. Is the House of Ideas prejudiced against apes and their kin or something? Nah. Don’t worry, Marvelophiles, there will be a couple marvel-ous entries this week, including today’s. Hailing from the old-world monkey family, he’s a villainous incarnation of the largest species of monkey. (See? This column is nothing if not educational).
Mandrill isn’t really an ape, but rather, a mutant who happens to have the appearance of one. He first appeared in Shanna the She-Devil #4, oddly enough, created by Carole Seuling (who never wrote anything outside of these Shanna issues), Steve Gerber, and Ross Andru. Back then, he went by the name Hensley Fargus, though this was later revealed to be an alias (probably because Marvel was too afraid to have two villains named Mandrill). Nowadays, his real name is Jerome Beechman.
I’d say he’s a baddie with a face only a mother could love, but that’s not true. His parents were so frightened by his appearance that they ditched him in the desert. Growing more monkey-like over time, he teamed up with the villainess Nekra and used his pheromone powers (yes– pheromone powers) in an attempt to overthrow a few countries and start a new society. Shanna kicked his butt, though.
Next, he tried to overthrow America with a cult of women behind him. Daredevil and friends beat him, though.
He later appeared in Defenders #90, seen at the top of this post. It gave us this hilarious panel I found courtesy of ChaosMonkey:
Oh man, he is evil.
Writer Ed Hannigan and artist Don Perlin were geniuses. Mandrill, ever the ladies man, uses his pheromone powers to rally a “Fem-Force” and attack a nuclear power plant. He is defeated when his mom shoots him (I told you she didn’t like him).
After that, Mandrill had a scant few appearances (apparently having been killed off, but he got better) until very recently. He’s been featured in Thunderbolts, She-Hulk, Spider-Man: Breakout, and even had a cameo in a recent romance special written by Greg Burgas’ archnemesis, Tom Beland. It’s hilarious. Have a look. Clicking will activate the Pym particles to make it grow to giant-size:
It might not be so funny if you think about Mandrill’s character. His pheromone powers, of course, are used to enslave women, and he’s been known to sexually abuse his captives, including, as the Wiki tells me, the Black Widow. He’s a vile, extremely scary villain who has mostly been used to comic effect these days. That makes him a complete reverse of DC’s villainous Dr. Light, who was comic before he was rapey.
Mandrill is actually a despicable villain, and this could be used to the advantage of a writer, if they decided to use him in a dark and serious manner. I don’t want to promote “grim and gritty” storytelling, but the Mandrill is a vile and misogynistic bad guy, and who doesn’t want to see that kind of person get their ass kicked? He’s officially survived the Decimation with powers intact, so somebody figures he’ll be worthwhile for a future story.
So there’s two ways to view him: either silly and funny (I mean, he’s a bloody Mandrill! And look at that get-up!) or disturbing and wicked, like the Purple Man and Dr. Light have become. Never thought a baddie this obscure and “lame” had so much frightening depth, did you?
Who’s the greatest mandrill-related super-villain: Mandrill, from this column, or Spark Mandrill from Mega Man X?