Angel and the Ape
Created by E. Bridwell, Howie Post and Bob Oksner
Like, groovy! ANGEL BEATRIX O'DAY is a New York city-based private eye, who runs the O'Day and Simeon Detective Agency. She's 5'10" and 140 lbs, has blue eyes and platinum blonde hair, and tends to favour short dresses and skirts. But the dumb blonde jokes stop here. She's also a crackerjack sleuth, with a keen eye and a sharp mind. She speaks twelve languages (Mandarine and Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Dutch Afrikaans, Swahili, Ancient and Modern Greek, Latin, Spanish, German, Russian, and Atlantean), and excels at computer hacking and cryptography. And she's not someone to push around, either. She a deft hand at Karate and Kung Fu, a world-class fencer, and a crack shot. She favours a stainless steel Detonic 45 ACP, but is also pretty handy with a knife.
So it's probably a good idea not to try and push this lady around.
Her sometime-partner, meanwhile, is more the strong silent type. His name's SAM SIMEON, and he's a successful comic book artist who nevertheless lends a hand now and then. Surprisingly, given that he's at 5'9" and weighs in at 550 lbs, Sam's not there for muscle -- Angel can take care of herself, thank you -- but he does bring certain skills to the team. He tends to use his brains more than his brawn, though rumour has it he's pretty slick with an X-Acto knife. And, oh yeah, Sam's a big ape.
But don't mention that to him. He's kinda sensitive about it.
Originally, the fact that Sam was a gorilla was played totally deadpan. Supposedly Angel and Sam met when she and her father, Professor Theo O'Day, were travelling in Africa. Suffice it to say that the O'Days were suitably impressed. It's not every day you meet a talking gorilla, after all.
Hey, it was the sixties, and in the wake of the Batman TV show and the Marvel boom, it was definitely a swinging time for comic books. So an ape private eye wasn't that far a stretch. The couple made their debut is issue #77 of DC Showcase in September 1968, and promptly started appearing in their own comic book series a month later, although it only lasted seven issues. But it was too weird and memorable a gimmick to let go, and ever since Angel and Sam have reappeared over the years in a couple of short series, and occasional guest appearances in various other DC books, often inked by the legendary Wallace (Wally) Wood.
In a 1991 mini-series, Phil Foglio retooled Angel's and Sam's back story. It was revealed then that Sam was in fact a refugee from the secret Gorilla City, and the grandson of long-time Flash (you know -- the fast guy with the winged feet and the red suit) arch-enemy Gorilla Grodd. As well as the power of speech, however, Sam was also blessed (or maybe cursed) with a variation of Grodd's "force of mind", that allows him to to convince people and apes of whatever he wishes. Not something that endeared him to his fellow gorillas, given his grandfather's history. So Sam figured that following the O'Days stateside wasn't a half-bad idea.
Anyway, regardless of Sam's origins, upon returning to the States, Sam discovered an aptitude for art, and became a talented comic book artist, working at Brainpix and later DZ Comics, where he has created successful characters like Attilla Gorilla, Jungle Woman, and the Deus Ex Machina Man. Meanwhile, Angel's agency has became quite successful as well, and the two have have cracked some pretty strange cases, many involving DC's super-hero community.
In their latest incarnation, a mini-series from DC's Vertigo that hit the racks in August 2001 (eyes right), Angel was still a top-notch private eye by day, and Sam was still the strong, silent type. But this latest outing was co-scripted by Howard Chaykin and a lot darker and more twisted than the wide-open innocence and goofy, campy humour of the original series.
I thought I'd hate it, but I was wrong. The humour's definitely more risqué, and Angel certainly shows off a lot more flesh than even in the days of mini-skirts, but the same wacky, cartoony humour pervaded the series.
Since then, Angel and Sam seem to have disappeared, but this is DC Comics. Don't count them out yet.
Oh, and if this isn't too much monkey bidness for you to be involved in, check out Bobo the Detective Chimp.
Includes unpublished Angel and the Ape story by Bob Oksner and Wally Wood.
A great place to track down some obscure comic book characters in the DC universe.
A listing of all the private eyes who have shown up in DC comics.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Mr. Lamb Frys for the heads-up. The bananas are in the mail. Black and white illustration is an alternate cover by art Adams from the upcoming Vertigo mini-series, from The Art Adams Gallery.
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