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365 Reasons to Love Comics #208

It’s past midnight as I write this, but hey! It’s earlier than that on the West Coast! It’s still yesterday there! Sorry, homies. I ran out of time today. But there’s still fresh content! And there’s still an archive link! And if you’re really bored, you can read about the nifty series of fantasy novels I’m totally writing. Also, yesterday’s entry is updated with new cover images. Check ‘em.

Today’s featured character is one you may have forgotten, possibly on purpose. Call him lame if you wish. The lamer you think a character is, the more I’m bound to dig ‘em. And I dig ‘em, much like the frog who loves Smacks.

7/27/07

208. Gilgamesh, the Forgotten One

Gilgamesh 1.jpg

“Gilgamesh!?” you’re probably shouting right now. “Really? Gilga-freskin’-mesh!?” Well, yeah. I like him. Besides, no one’s reading on the weekend anyway. Heh. See above? There’s him, in the background, doing his thing, and wearing his mind-shatteringly awesome outfit that involves a skirt, a cape, and a bull’s head helmet. Booyah.

Yep, Gilgamesh, mythic star of one of the earliest literary works ever (and it’s a great tale; read it if you haven’t), was a comics character. He was an Eternal, actually, first brought to the page by Jack Kirby, who dubbed him The Forgotten One. He was, in fact, exiled from his own people, but came back to fight for them. He had been called many names in the past– Atlas, Hercules, Samson, Gilgamesh… He’s the wandering, immortal hero, who no one quite remembers. I think it’s a neat premise.

Gilgamesh 2.jpg

He hasn’t been used much, though. He showed up in a few Eternals stories, yeah, and later joined the Avengers at the very end of Walt Simonson‘s tenure as writer. The line-up was completely dismantled about thirty seconds after Walt left the title, but for a brief, shining moment, Gilgamesh was a member of the team, along with Captain America, Thor, Mister Fantastic, and the Invisible Woman. The scene in Avengers #300 where he joins is priceless:

Gilgamesh 5.JPG

“Will there be monsters?” is the best question to ask before you join a super-team. And, as he says, it’s not like he’s got a busy schedule or anything. So what the hell, right?

I liked Simonson’s portrayal of Gilgy a lot, here. Totally dry, going with the flow (there were demons and he felt like fighting them), and fondly remembering his own past adventures (“Pegasus. A noble steed. But very difficult to ride. Quite a high flyer.”) He also liked the fact that Cap hadn’t forgotten him (“It’s good to be remembered.”)

And since it’s Friday Night (or Early Saturday Morning; same diff), I might as well throw in a bit of a Friday Night Fight, as a shout out to ol’ Bahlactus. I present Gilgamesh, punching some demons, whilst commenting on the “Avengers Assemble!” catchphrase:

Gilgamesh 4.JPG

Gilgamesh showed up later in a Captain America Annual that, yes, was one of the first comics I ever bought. So I’ve got a bit of a sentimental kinship with Gilgamesh. That issue featured Cap going back in time and meeting Gilgamesh during the classic Epic of Gilgamesh of myth. It also had Gilgy punching a Stone Man from Saturn (Thor’s first enemy from Journey Into Mystery #83) in the face:

Gilgamesh 3.JPG

I love that Captain America is the only one who ever remembers him. Well, him and Pepperidge Farm. I bet they remember.

In the real world, everyone else may forget him, but not me. In fact, I once came up with a wacky superhero team, and Gilgamesh is most certainly a part of it. After all, he’s excellent for the strongman role, and he’d probably have a wonderfully wry sense of humor. Sure, when the Avengers need a strongman, they call Thor or Hercules, but what happens when a much more obscure team needs one? Why, they’ll call Gilgamesh. If they remember him. After all, he has a weird tendency to be forgotten.

But Bill Reed never forgets. Except when he does. This is not one of those times.

The Marvel Universe Appendix never forgets either, which is probably why Gilgamesh has his own entry there. Everything you wanna know. Sweet.

Gilgamesh was killed off in some lame Avengers story, but it was probably a Space Phantom. The Forgotten One may be forgotten for now, but it certainly shan’t last forever! In the meantime, I’ll be waiting.

19 Comments

A Honey (nee Sugar) Smacks reference and the protagonist of one of the first literary works ever? My kinda Reason.

Uh, Bill? We’re all on the same side here, man. Or we’re supposed to be. :)

How about you either a]Retitle the column ’365 Reasons Why *I* Love Comics’ or b]Skip the defensive commentary and let us react to each entry in our own way, eh?

Gilgamesh as an immortal hero? Wasn’t the whole point of the ancient Gilgamesh epic his eventual acceptance of mortality? It’s a bit like bringing in Odysseus because the Avengers need to find the quickest route from A to B.

Worst Avengers Team Ever. All around bad. Gilgamesh certainly didn’t help matters.

The Kirbydotter

July 28, 2007 at 8:02 am

I’m not even sure I ever read a comic book with Gilgamesh in it… The bull-headed costume is certainly lame.

Hey, that Avengers team has at least one good thing. It means that one moron who said five legion of superheroes members could beat all Avengers ever looks like evn more of a jerk. The legion wouldn’t even have a significant IQ edge.
Plus, the Avengers had Squirrel girl.

Flush it all away

July 28, 2007 at 1:29 pm

har! @ steve flanagan.

I remember when Gilgamesh joined the team. Never really liked him, only because he seemed so duplicative. Mythical strong guy? We already had Thor and Hercules. But hey, it’s good to see him pop up again…true to his name, I had forgotten all about his short-lived Avengers run.

km –

Bill is probably just tired of people banging on him when he highlights obscure characters. (Which always baffles me – if you don’t like obscure characters, why are you reading this column?)

I’m more interested in Cap wearing a black costume and being labeled as ‘The Captain’. What’s the story on that? That looks pretty cool to me.

At the time, Captain America was undergoing the BEST STORY EVER in his own series, written by the late great Mark Gruenwald. Essentially, the federal government called Steve Rogers in and explained to him that while they hadn’t made a thing of it, the name, costume, shield, identity, and concept of “Captain America” were all officially property of the US government, as they had come up with it all, and from that point, if he wanted to act as Captain America, he’d have to do so under federal control.

Cap promptly handed in his uniform and shield, and designed himself a new identity as “The Captain” (shield by Tony Stark.) Meanwhile, the feds found a new Captain America, an “edgy” super-hero called the Super-Patriot who’d been setting himself up as a rival to Captain America, and instead wound up being him.

Eventually, the whole thing turned out to be a plot of the Red Skull, Cap returned to his former identity, and the new Cap wound up becoming the USAgent.

km -

Bill is probably just tired of people banging on him when he highlights obscure characters.

I’ve been reading faithfully for awhile now, and I don’t see much ‘banging’ in that regard. Personally, I love it when the column introduces me to a cool character I’d never have come across otherwise (Monkeyman & O’Brien come immediately to mind).

(Which always baffles me – if you don’t like obscure characters, why are you reading this column?)

Because it isn’t entitles ’365 Obscure Characters’? Or, for that matter, ’365 Obscure Reasons to Love Comics?’

Look, it was probably just a minor snit fit and never warranted my making it an issue in the first place. On the other hand, as far as I’m concerned one of the greatest things about this column is its intensely participatory nature.

Everybody has their own definition of loving comics, including Bill, and watching them interact is never less than interesting. I’d really hate that to be discouraged.

I guess I just don’t see why Gilgamesh is a reason to love comics. I see that he was in one of your first comics, so the nostalgia attached is a reason for you to love comics.

But it seems to me that it doesn’t really matter which character was in that comic.

Alright, time for a Behind the Scenes!

Originally, I had a different character and a much bigger column planned, but time constraints made me throw something else in instead. I’d been thinking about obscure but neat Marvel characters earlier, and figured Gilgamesh was cool enough for a quick Friday column. Also, he sort-of led into the next day’s featured creator.

I guess not every column can be a winner. Heh.

I also am the few who remember Gilgamesh! Though barely.

ETERNALS #3.. OCTOBER 2008… GILGAMESH LIVES AGAIN!!!! WOOO HOOOO!!! i am one happy happy fanboy!

dudes cool out!!! these are pretty awesome!!! they are like blowing my mind away!!!

it is way cool!!1 :)

:):):):):)

If you wanna follow some “adventures of gilgamesh” then you need to check out my earths mightiest roleplaying group on yahoo.. i am playing the one and only GILGAMESH!!! (have been for a while now) and he is in the thick of EVERY battle that we’ve faced so far!

look it up on yahoo groups, its called “EARTHS MIGHTIEST RPG”

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/earthsmightiestrpg/

Timmy!

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