Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
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.
208. Gilgamesh, the Forgotten One
“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.
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:
“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 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:
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.
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