This profile is part of a series. Wot starts with Gorilla-Man (Kenneth Hale) part #1.
I was going to put more 1954 Perry Como. But for some reason, I got this idea that Johnny Cash’s classic cover of Geoff Mack’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” 1959 novelty song would be even better.
History (part 3)
The bulk of Hale’s activities after he lost contact with Woo is undocumented.
Here’s what is known. Using a non-sliding timeline as usual.
Hale returned to Western Congo for insight into his “curse”. It is unclear whether he stayed there for decades, or it was a series of long stays.
He lived in an impressive, well-equipped treehouse.
Ken occasionally worked as a guide for select customers. These included Warren Worthington III’s cool aunt Mimi, a wildlife photographer.
They found Xavier trapped in a remote structure, which magically sapped the will to escape of any prisoner. This force made even Xavier and the X-Men apathetic.
But it had no effect on Hale, who got everybody out.
Soldier of fortune
There are mentions of Hale having been active as a soldier of fortune “for a long time”.
It sometimes seems to be a shorthand to describe his 1930s expeditions for Mr. Wolward. But not always. So it stands to reason that Ken was also active as a mercenary.
The span between World War Two and the curse isn’t the best candidate for this. Since it corresponds to Ken’s marriage, then illness.
Therefore, it seems likely that Mr. Hale was a bizarre soldier of fortune during one or more spans from the 1960s to the mid-2000s.
It is presumably during this era that he met another super-mercenary, Domino (Neena Thurman).
He also repeatedly clashed with Borgia Omega, a pulpsCheap, often lurid novels in the US during the 1920s and 1930s.-ish mad cyborg mastermind – and descendant of the infamous Italian dynasty .
Over the decades, more men came after Gorilla-Man. They sought to kill him to become immortal.
Hale seemingly always tried to talk them out of it, pointing out the gorilla component of the curse. This apparently never worked. And given the obsessive nature of that quest, killing the would-be slayers was the only way out.
Gorilla-Man keeps mementoes of each would-be slayer – usually their weapon. He seems to do that to honour those who fell to this obsession toward immortality. And to remind himself that for all his prowess, he too can be slain.
Circa 2010, this museum of sorts was moved to an Atlas Foundation warehouse.
Bit later on, eh ?
During the 1970s or 1980s, nearby wars destabilised the Congolese valley, plunging it into a bloody civil war. Hale had to leave.
At this point, the DR Congo was called the Republic of Zaire. It was the Mobutu era.
The vague description of the conflict loosely evokes the clashes in Shaba (Katanga) during the late 1970s. But it seems more likely that it was a conflict specific to the Marvel Universe.
After leaving, Hale mentioned this civil war to his former teammate, Venus. Venus would eventually travel there and put a lasting end to the conflict with her magic. But that took decades.
During the mid-2000s, Ken was recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. to join a new version of the Howling Commandos.
He was recommended by Woo, now a member of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Directorate. And S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t check backgrounds too closely. They couldn’t afford to be picky when putting together this special unit.
These commandos were an operation composed of monsters, supernatural creatures and mystical types. They performed covert operations against magical threats. The team was based at S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Area 13.
Hale’s unit was led by Warwolf (Vic Markus), whom Ken seemed to be closest to within the organization. Other notable squaddies included :
- The Living Mummy (N’Kantu).
- Vampire by Night (Nina Price).
- The Glob (Joseph Timms).
- Lilith (daughter of Dracula).
- Groot (he is Groot).
Brother Voodoo (Dr. Jericho Drumm) also was a senior consultant for Area 13.
Howling Commandos deployed
One documented operation was in Afghanistan. The monstrous Howling Commandos successfully stormed a Lords of the Living Lightning base.
A being called Merlin then awoke in the modern world. He used his power to revert Britain to a science-free version of itself. Then raised an army of the lost mystical creatures to serve him.
Lilith and Nina were sent in covertly. But Merlin detected them and sent his forces to attack Area 13. Ken and others fought the assaulters.
This battle was won by releasing uncontrollable giant monsters imprisoned in Area 13. From there, Ken and his colleagues led the charge back through the portal after the retreating forces.
This unit then spearheaded the attack on Merlin’s base in Salisbury, where Ken and Warwolf engaged Merlin. Merlin chose to flee, as Lilith tricked him into foreseeing certain defeat.
History (part 4)
They broke Jimmy out of S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.
The 1958/59 team reunited around Jimmy. They would eventually learn some of the truth about Atlas – as chronicled in the team’s profile.
Ken also learned of Mister Lao’s nature, as he recognised his voice despite the decades.
In 2010, Mr. Hale went on a solo Atlas mission. As he suspected, this led to the elusive Bastoc, who had been setting himself as a warlord in Central Africa.
Bastoc had covertly bought the enchanted Wolward cane from Lilly when she sold off her father’s artefacts. The used its power of persuasion to recruit followers and set up his new identity.
When Hale stopped him, Bastoc credibly told him that he could use the cane’s power to break the curse – if Hale would let him go. But Gorilla-Man chose to crush the cane and arrest Bastoc.
Hominidæ and mustelidæ
In 2011, Gorilla-Man was investigating a new, murderous heroin ring.
While in San Francisco’s Chinatown, he reluctantly allied with Wolverine (James Howlett), Master Po and Fat Cobra. These were also tracking down this cartel.
This led to the discovery of a vast poppy-growing organisation. It had been set up by the Jade Claw (Suwan), once Jimmy Woo’s lover, using subterranean draconic caverns and buildings.
Gorilla-Man and the others destroyed the San Francisco operation, likely wrecking Suwan’s entire machination.
And the mercs for money
Deadpool (Wade Wilson) and Gorilla-Man had met in 2010, during a clash with Borgia Omega. Hale didn’t like Wilson much.
But in 2016 he agreed to serve as a jungle guide in Việt Nam for Wilson. As a favour to Domino.
Domino later took over Deadpool’s mercenary team, bringing new personnel. That included Gorilla-Man, who apparently owed Domino one last favour.
He did one S.H.I.E.L.D.-funded mission with her motley crew, taking down the Circus of Crime.
History (part 5)
Ken apparently hung around with Domino’s crew for a time, re-establishing ties with her.
This corresponds to the gap when the Agents of Atlas apparently took an extended sabbatical. Which likely left Gorilla-Man aimless and lonely.
Therefore, when Queen Shiklah and her monster army attacked Manhattan, he agreed to assist the team in taking her out, pro bono.
While this op would have been a bloody failure, team member Machine Man (Aaron Stack) saved the day.
Agent of Wakanda
In 2019, the Black Panther (T’Challa) approached a drifting, drunk Kenneth Hale in Timbuktu (Tumbutu).
He recruited him to join an improbable roster of specialists, working for both Wakanda and the Avengers. This motley crew was directed by Okoye of the Dora Milaje.
While most Agents were field operatives, Ken Hale chiefly worked as the Chief of Security at Avengers Mountain. This was the repurposed corpse of a Celestial, half-trapped in ice at the North Pole.
(“Corpse” is a shorthand. Celestial “armour” is thought to be a casing facilitating the projection of an energy “body” into our universe from the Celestials’ higher reality).
Given the volume of Avengers procedures and the complexity of these headquarters, Hale soon was drowning in work.
Gorilla vision quest
Ties with Wakanda had another benefit.
Back in 2005 Derek Khanata, a Wakandan agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. also working with Jimmy Woo’s Atlas team, had sent his cousin to do anthropological research in the DR Congo. So Ken would learn more about the Gorilla-Man enchantment.
By 2019, Wakandans researchers had puzzled out the ties with old Jabari magic and the N’Gi gorilla spirit. From there, the Panther Cult could grow magic herbs that would allow for spiritual contact with this orishaYoruba word for a god or great spirit, used in several African traditions..
Mr. Hale agreed to undertake this vision quest. This plunged him into an animalistic rage for a time, but he overcame this.
From there, he could enter a spirit jungle where :
- He fought the ghosts of the previous Gorilla-Men, in their ape form. These tore his gorilla body to expose his human one.
- He faced the gigantic N’Gi.
Ken once again refused to shoot the creature facing him. He tried to prove his resolve, but eventually understood that it was meaningless. The gorilla spirit was the source of his strength.
Being on the spirit plane made it possible for him to accept that, rather than fight N’Gi. This allegedly made the fusion of man and gorilla more stable.
Return of the Inner Circle (a bit)
Not long after, Jimmy Woo reunited the good ol’ team – presumably to Ken’s relief.
However, it seems that they chiefly did discreet, short missions in remote corners of the globe. The goal was to piece together the current situation among rival dragon masters.
As chronicled in our Atlas team profile, the bulk of the Foundation’s superhuman presence had been shifting to much younger, more vital operatives.
Ken also used his access to Avengers databases to provide info to Jimmy. Particularly when Woo and the new 3Xs started their quest for the Eternity Mask.
The corpse of a giant space god
In 2019, armies from the Nine AsgardianThe reality of the Old Norse gods, such as Thor. Worlds, commanded by Malekith, attacked Earth.
Avengers Mountain was one of their primary objectives. In part because much of New York City’s population had been evacuated there.
Hale hooked up Celestial power sources to the Black Panther (Shuri)’s artillery in the nick of time. That was despite a Dark Elves strike team teleporting in and badly wounding him.
While he struggled to remain alive, Ken had another vision. This time, it was the remnants of Celestial consciousness that made contact with him.
One part of the vision allowed Gorilla-Man to determine where Roxxon Oil forces, allied with Malekith, were based. This helped in derailing attacks from Roxxon hulk-like super-soldiers, which most forces within the Mountain — including a barely recovered Hale — couldn’t hope to match.
Whilst working on spy satellites, Hale and fellow Agent of Wakanda Broo were captured by an alien plant. It had taken over much of the Moon.
More Agents responded. They eventually shifted the mega-plant to another dimensionOther realms of existence that are not our universe., the Other-Realm. Both Broo and Gorilla-Man were rescued.
Hale and available Agents then had to deal with imaginary Makluan dragons attacking the Mountain. They were attempting to recover Fin Fang Foom. Broo was eventually able to defuse the situation.
After switching to his (metaphorical) Atlas Foundation cap, Gorilla-Man and his Atlas colleagues helped the younger Agents of Atlas deal with :
- A war with Atlantis.
- The disruption wrought by the flashy, well-funded Pan city project.
In 2020, during the Empyre crisis, Gorilla-Man was among the heroic reinforcements bolstering Wakanda to defeat a Cotati invasion.
Treachery and treason…
However, Hale also struck a deal with Ursa Major (Mikhail Ursus) to double-cross the Guard and save the Avengers if necessary.
Furthermore, the Avengers learned that there was a Russian plot to kidnap She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters), and planned to subvert it.
The deal with Hale was activated in 2021. The Guard raided Avengers Mountain and captured Walters. But the Widow reneged, and slit Ursus’ throat instead of Hale’s.
She then worked for weeks to turn Ms. Walters into a brainwashed red hulk – the Winter Hulk.
Meanwhile, Hale fled and became a barfly in Bagalia, hoping to die in a pub super-brawl.
… there’s always an excuse for it
The Winter Hulk was sent to assassinate Namor. This would serve as a diversion whilst deploying a gammaIn the Marvel Universe, the sort of fantasy radiation that empowers the Hulk and others. bomb to kill all Atlanteans.
However, she made a detour and abducted Gorilla-Man in Bagalia. While crushed by guilt, Mr. Hale kept talking to Ms. Walters – and followed her underwater.
However, he was gravely wounded by the Red Widow.
Gorilla-Man’s emotional support greatly helped She-Hulk overcome her conditioning and defeat the genocidal Russian plot. Though she had let herself be captured to derail the Winter Guard’s operation from within, resisting the brainwashing wasn’t easy.
Hale survived his wounds. He was sent to recover in the Wakandan countryside – along with Ursus, still between life and death.
After this disastrous suicide attempt, Gorilla-Man decided that he would live.
The curse at an end ?
During this story, Ken Hale mentions that the curse is now forgotten, and that nobody stalks the Gorilla-Man anymore.
Now, I have many bad things to say about that, involving “hack writing” and “incoherent with all previous material”. But nobody came here for my opinion, so here’s a No-Prize HypothesisA made-up explanation to plug a plot hole. about how that could work :
- The cryptic confrontation between Ken and N’Gi in the spirit world stabilised the gorilla spirit. Its hunger for power calmed for a good while. So any part of the curse attracting hunters will remain inert for years.
- Most of the non-Congolese hunters after the Gorilla-Man were actually brought in Mister Lao and a draconic rival – not by any African magic. The confrontation between Jimmy Woo and Suwan resulted in the dragons dropping this for now. Though there still was a number of hunters who had been groomed (oh oh) into undertaking the quest before the confrontation.
History (part 6)
In 2023, Avengers Mountain physically reactivated. A Deathlok cyborg from another reality had uploaded its consciousness into it.
This was part of a desperate effort to support the Avengers (and particularly Starbrand (“Brandy” Selby)) against the Multiversal Masters of Evil.
To help control this titanic form, the “Celestial Deathlok” made Ken Hale his co-pilot.
This immense construct was essential in taking down a giant Mephisto, who had gained near-cosmic power. It then helped delay the destruction of all realities, until more permanent solutions were found.
Meanwhile, Hale and his pal Ursus dismounted and helped defeat an army of Doctor Dooms.
Once victory was narrowly achieved, they returned to Earth-616The main Marvel Comics version of Earth. along with the Avengers and other allies. Hale’s hope was that his actions would result in a pardon.
Gruff and surly — but seldom mean — Ken has had plenty of time to come to terms with his condition. He thus lost the temperamental outbursts he was prone to in his earlier days.
He’s intensely loyal to his friends. And he’s markedly less abrasive and bitter when he’s with those.
Likewise, when associating with the teenage X-Men during the 1960s, he soon went from grumpy to enjoying the camaraderie.
By contrast, the so-so group dynamics among the monstrous Howling Commandos, or the Mercs for Money, meant that Hale was back to being surly, aimless and too fond of alcohol.
Ken often comes across as a sarcastic, blunt, down-to-earth, smart, two-fisted blue-collar feller.
Mr. Hale has a good sense of humour and is fairly friendly. But — being a gorilla — he reacts badly if somebody tries to outposture him.
Ken Hale has long since come to terms with his unique nature. As he once noted, he’s been a gorilla for longer than he’s been a man. Ken feels at home with both kinds of primates.
Gorilla-Man has fully adjusted to the times, and holds modern values. By contrast, his tastes in fashions, music, pastimes, etc. tend to range from the 1930s to the present.
Clothing tends to be mid-century stuff. From vintage aviation jumpsuits, to loud 1950s dad plaid shirts with a panama or porkpie hat. Plus, of course, tourist aloha shirts.
Gorilla-Man will sometimes request that Venus do all-time-classic, popular American tunes as her siren song. Such as “Fever” (1956, though Peggy Lee’s 1958 cover is the best-known version) or Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” (1973) .
Ken Hale occasionally calls young men “son” since, well, his age now is in the triple digits.
Normally, the presence of the gorilla spirit within the Gorilla-Man slowly leads toward depression, aimlessness and self-loathing. This effect seemed healed by Jimmy Woo’s presence.
It’s also alleviated when feeling part of something, even if it’s just the camaraderie of a heroic team.
SHIELD Tech: “Those biohazard suits out there aren’t for decoration.”
Gorilla-Man: “I should hope not ! Have you seen how they clash with the decontamination shower’s tiles ? Faux pas, people. Faux pas.”
“I just took on the most powerful covert agency in the world on what a killer robot told me. I’m an idiot.”
“I was running around in the subcontinent when this witch doctor cursed me… now I’m a gorilla. It happens.”
(During battle while M-11 is busy doing something else) “Too bad we don’t have anything useful like a killer @*#$%@# robot on this team !”
(Fighting Namora) “Fine… kill me ! But you’ll inherit my Curse ! Get ready to be the world’s biggest sea monkey for all eternity !”
[Spider-Man says he’s never heard about the Atlas Foundation]
Gorilla-Man: “That’s because it’s a secret.”
Spider-Man: “Then why don’t you wear masks like me ?”
Gorilla-Man: “Because we’re from a time when people dressed better !”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
He spent time as a guest in Gorilla City, but felt as out of place there as he had in human society. So he didn’t stay long.
Ken has encountered or worked with most of the similarly themed types over the years (B’Wana Beast, Grodd, Angel O’Day). He has a resentment of Congorilla, due to his easily switching back and forth between human and gorilla, and shares a particular antipathy with Monsieur Mallah.
The only one Ken’s happy to spend any time with is Detective Chimp, and the pair often get drunk together.
Gorilla-Man has a pretty similar vibe to Metamorpho (Rex Mason) with a large side of Congo Bill.
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 07||Str: 07||Bod: 07|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 05|
|Inf: 06||Aur: 05||Spi: 06|
|Init: 018||HP: 060|
Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent: 04, Density Increase: 01, Extended hearing: 01, Iron Will: 12, Systemic antidote*: 07
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent may not have the Tracking component.
- Density Increase is Always On, and is Already Factored In (-1).
- Iron Will only works against Mystical-based Powers (-1).
- Systemic Antidote only vs. disease.
Acrobatics: 06, Charisma (Interrogation): 06, Gadgetry: 02, Martial artist (EV): 09, Military science: 05, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles: 06, Weaponry: 07
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Gadgetry uses realistic rules.
- Martial Artist is a Powered Skill.
- Martial Artist is Contingent Upon STR.
- Area Knowledge (Earth, Western Congo).
- Credentials (Atlas Foundation, Medium).
- Expertise (Jungle survival, Technology within the Celestial Progenitor body, Wakandan tech).
- Familiarity (Gorilla customs, World history, Horse racing betting, Zero G operations).
- Language (some “Bantu” (presumably meaning Swahili) and presumptively some basics in a number of other African languages).
- Prehensile Feet.
- Schtick (Unfettered fist).
Agents of Atlas (High), Okoye and the Agents of Wakanda (Low), Black Panther (T’Challa] (Low), Howling Commandos (2005 monsters version, Low), Domino (Neena Thurman) (Low), Ursa Major (High), White Fox (Ami Han) (Low).
Misc. Drawback (The Curse, 0 pts – killing Gorilla-Man means turning into the next Gorilla-Man), Partial Attack Vulnerability (-1CS RV vs. Ballistic, Piercing and Slashing Descriptors), Strange Appearance.
When not part of a well-working team, Hale may develop a MIA toward Alcohol.
Agent of Atlas. Former adventurer, mercenary, tomb raider, military pilot, etc..
- ATLAS VIDEO WATCH w/IMAGE INDUCER [BODY 01, Radio comms (Encrypted): 15, Insta-Change, Bonus: RComs includes visuals (+10 BC)].
- The Powers & Abilities subsection about his gear has enough details that you can use our Weapons Locker articles. But the feel of the stories usually is to either have him have :
- A high-power semi-auto handgun [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 09, Flash (stdy illum only): 04, Rec. STR 02, R#03]. These stats throw in a tactical light for good measure. He sometimes has two, but it’s to have more trigger time between reloads.
- If he’s expecting combat, one big gun or two smaller guns that boil down to [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 07, Ammo: 10, R#03, Advantage: Autofire].
While a member of the Howling Commandos, he had a High level Connection to them, and a Low level connection to SHIELD.
Given the covert nature of the assignments they undertook, it’s unlikely he had any form of Credentials.
The STR + Martial Artist (EV) + Contingencies + Schtick (Unfettered Fist) combo reflects discrepancies about his strength level. If you can’t be arsed, just replace it all with STR 08.
Mr. Hale doesn’t appear to have a Paired Weapons or Vedic Gunfighter Schtick. Having one or two guns doesn’t seem to make a difference, and quad-wielding requires specific circumstances (since he can’t use his legs) and seems mostly useful for laying down ample suppressive fire.
The listed Hero Points are for Hale at his peak, during the 2006-2010 heights of the Agents of Atlas.
When Gorilla-Man is part of a team that works okay-ish (even if it’s just the monstrous Howling Commandos), he’ll usually have 045 or 050 HPs.
If he’s fully deprived of camaraderie, he’ll have 040 HPs – at most.
If it’s yet another Jason Aaron story where most characters inexplicably become sordid losers, you can halve that. Though it’s best handled as a specific Genre with high HP costs and the like.
Possible stats if you wanna feature those elite agents :
Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 03 Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Inf: 02 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Init: 012 HP: 005
Artist (Actress): 03, Martial artist: 04, Vehicles: 04, Weaponry: 04
Familiarity (Operation of high-tech equipment), Language (Italian).
Henching scene (Low), perhaps one or more current or former employer (or lieutenant thereof) (Low).
Source of Character: Marvel Comics.
Helper(s): Marvel.com , William Chamberlin, Frank Murdock, Darci, capita_senyera.
Writeup re-groomed on the 7th of August, 2023.