By Jim Beard
We couldn't have explained the MARVEL APES: SPEEDBALL #1 one-shot any better-so we asked writer Karl Kesel to do it for us:
"The Masked Monkey Marvel bounces back into action-in the Mighty Marvel Apes
"Trapped in a world not his own-Really! Literally!-[Speedball] tries to find a place to fit in," he continues. "Alone and alienated, the only ray of light is a report from Los Angeles of a super-powered gorilla wearing a Mexican wrestling mask..."
On March 11, ape aficionados will discover for themselves what happens when an
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irresistible monkey hurls headlong at an immovable simian as the smash hit MARVEL APES series births its very first spin-off. MARVEL APES: SPEEDBALL #1, a 48-page Special brought to you by the original APES team of Kesel and artist Ramon Bachs, follows the continuing misadventures of an ape Speedball after the cataclysmic events of the limited series. When we left the bouncing-but-hairy hero he'd just lost a friend but gained an entirely new Earth...
"Speedball and Ape X were best friends back in the Ape Universe," notes Kesel. "In some ways, Ape X represents all the best parts of his home universe to Speedball-and there were a lot
of bad parts! So when he hears reports that Ape X has been spotted in Los Angeles-that his friend may have found some way to the human universe, too-there's no way Speedball can't look into it."
Bad parts to an entire universe maintained by monkeys? Arranged by apes? Say it ain't so! Alas, last year's MARVEL APES told of Monkhattan, center of the Ape Universe and home to more simian super heroes than you could "Ook! Ook!" at. Sounds like a great place, right? Ape Speedball uncovered quite the opposite, but also discovered two new bosom buddies from Marvel Earth: the Gibbon and Fiona.
"[Speedball's] undergoing Initiative training at Camp Hammond, believe it or not," reports Kesel. "But after joining the Initiative, Speedball's life has drifted away from Gibbon and Fiona's, which only makes him feel more alienated and alone.
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"But like true friends they get together, and it's like they've never been apart."
At this point one may wonder what the human
Speedball, currently known as Penance, may think about all this. Well, he's not exactly himself these days, a point of fact that could certainly impact his ape counterpart in MARVEL APES: SPEEDBALL #1.
"Probably the biggest unexpected problem monkey Speedball has is dealing with the considerable baggage the name 'Speedball' has in the Marvel Universe," Kesel says.
"It's as if he's gone from being the class clown to the town leper. The only thing worse would be if he ran into the human Speedball's parents..."
None of this action would be half as thrilling without the other member of the MARVEL APES team, artist Ramon Bachs. Scribe Kesel splits no hairs in defining what Bachs brings to the book besides a sense of continuity.
"It's been nothing but joy working with Ramon," he points out. "He's made what could have been little more than a cocktail party joke into a real, living world that you could actually believe in-and want to spend time in!
"I'm thrilled he had time to draw [MARVEL APES: SPEEDBALL] and just as thrilled that he got a chance to draw some human heroes! Because, y'know, he does that damn well, too!"
MARVEL APES: SPEEDBALL monkeys into stores on March 11. You can also read MARVEL APES #1 on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited right now!
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