Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Make Mine Mandrill...

In case you haven't noticed already I'm a sucker for monkeys in comics. As such I've always had a soft spot for the Mandrill. For those who don't know the Mandrill is a mutant super-villain who is basically a giant baboon but with the power to make chicks do whatever he wants - he doesn't even need to put on a Barry White record or nothing. God only knows what Steve Gerber, Ross Andru & co were on when they came up with that.

My favorite Mandrill appearance of all-time was in Defenders #91. I read that book to death when I was a kid. Back then I didn't quite grasp the sinister sexual overtones of Mandy's powers or why a nuclear meltdown was a such a big deal. All I knew was that there was a giant baboon packing heat dressed in spandex trying to shoot the Hulk and I loved it.

In a nutshell - you've got a team of Defenders including Nighthawk, Daredevil, Hellcat and the Hulk facing off with Mandy and his Fem-force in a nuclear power station creeping inexorably toward meltdown.

What's that? What's a Fem-Force you say? Well the Fem-Force is all the ladies that have fallen under the control of Mandy's powers. They'll do anything he says whether it's peeling grapes to stabbing super-heroes. Check them out all decked out in their snazzy purple leotards:In a surprise twist the Mandrill's nuclear power station take-over turns out to be less than strictly business. The power station he and his Fem-force invade is also the workplace of his estranged mother and father!

This is the mother and father who took one look at their newborn baby son's mutant monkey-face and decided to dump him in the desert to die! As you can imagine they're pretty surprised to see their beloved sonny boy alive, well and sticking a semi-automatic in their face:Now Mandy could just take the both of them on Jerry Springer and hash the whole thing out, but he decides he'd rather do things the old-fashioned way. Total mental domination for mommy and slow death by radiation poisoning for daddy.

Of course the Defenders show up and screw it all up. Hellcat takes out the bulk of the Fem-Force, freeing Mandrill-mommy's mind along the way. Hulk and the others ruin Mandy's meltdown fun in the reactor core.

Just as Mandy is getting ready to cut his losses, blow daddy's head off and scarper a shot rings out:This was such a good story, it made me a Mandrill fan for life. Despite all his chick-controlling, gun-waving and general megalomania it really paints the Mandrill as quite a sad, tragic figure. I remember as a kid feeling kinda bad for him and blaming the mean rifle-packing mother for the whole thing. I was totally pissed when she crept up and shot him in the back at the end.

Luckily the Mandrill didn't stay dead (Hooray!), but he's been criminally under-used since (Boooo!). I don't know what Marvel could be thinking they've got the Don Johnson of monkey villains and nobody wants to use him.

C'mon you Marvel writers, what are you waiting for? Make Mine Mandrill!
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