Wow! Where did this come from? Who is this writer and artist and why did I not know their brilliant work before this! This one-and-done comic book about Gorilla Grodd tells the story of how everyone’s favorite telepathic ape has slaughtered half of Africa but remains unsatisfied. Grodd yearns for a worthy opponent. Someone of his caliber. A challenge!
The book opens with Grodd narrating over panels of animal corpses being ripped apart by a somewhat sad looking simian. The gorilla gripes about how everyone is focusing on Aquaman’s sinking of europe while his own violent exploits in Africa are ignored. “Location, location, location” the Ape king laments. Not even the news of the last African city having been conquered can cheer up President Grodd. No! The bloodthirsty Grodd longs for violence! So he is presented with one of his armies fiercest warriors. A human who long ago renounced his species by permanently transferring his consciousness in a gorilla’s body (I later learned this is Congorilla). The arresting brutality contained in the following fight scene is not there for shock. It intends to reveal more character from Grodd. In fact everything in this book drives a very specific point home and sheds light on Grodd’s motivations as a villain. For instance, when he encounters a group of human children – not content with slaughtering them – Lord Grodd mind controls one of the kids to murder his friends and then plants a mental command in that child’s mind to “Remember this. I want you to grow up and hate me. I want to spend every minute of your life planning and thinking about how you’re going to kill me.” Indeed, the African king desperately thirsts the attention of an opponent. The book ends by positioning Grodd in in an genuinely interesting place relative to the Aquaman vs. Wonder Woman conflict in Flashpoint.
It takes a talented writer to demonstrate the pure and bloody evil of a villain but somehow make you want to root for him. Sean Ryan accomplishes just that in this book. He pulls no punches when showing how dangerously petty Grodd is – a point driven home by Ig Guara’s unflinching portrayal of the Gorilla leader’s savagery. But the ultimate result was my fist pumping while I laughed with nasty delight at the super-villain’s barbaric triumph. Go Grodd Go!