Top 5 Superhero Monkeys

Hey, Hey, They’re The Monkeys!

[A lab guard is torturing a chimpanzee, who grabs his arm]
Dodge:Take your stinking paws off me, you damn, dirty ape!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Who doesn’t like monkeys? They’re strong, agile, and intelligent enough to use tools. Some apes have even been taught sign language and proven to be snarky little bastards. So is it any wonder that some apes in comics might become superheroes?

Perhaps they are cunning pets who aid the main character by being beneath notice. Other apes might get by with above-human strength and ferocity. There are even some who are capable of speech and smarter than most humans. So who are the Top 5 Superhero Monkeys? Let’s find out.

#5 Sam Simeon

Type of Ape: Gorilla
Series: Angel and the Ape

Angel:I’m Angel O’ Day and this is my partner, Sam Simeon. We’re private detectives.
Sam:And I’m a part-time cartoonist.

Scooby Doo Team-Up #36

He may be one of the most obscure superhero monkeys, but Sam Simeon is certainly the grooviest.

A young woman named Angel O’Day met a talking gorilla while vacationing in Africa. They hit it off and she convinced him to come with her to New York where she named the gorilla Sam Simeon. Angel grew up to be a detective and was frequently accompanied by Sam, who served as muscle when her martial arts training was insufficient.

Sam Simeon is well-read and erudite by gorilla standards. (Did I really just write that sentence?) He became a cartoonist to pay the bills while waiting for his big break in the art world. Sam’s boss is a curmudgeonly huckster called Stan Bragg, who certainly isn’t a parody of Stan Lee, what gave you that idea?

Sam Simeon and Angel made several cameos after their comic was canceled. A short-lived revival revealed that Sam’s grandfather was Flash villain Gorilla Grodd. He had inherited Grodd’s psychic powers, using them to keep most humans from noticing that he was a gorilla.

#4 Solovar

Type of Ape: Gorilla
The Flash

Solovar: “What a coincidence. I was just about to call you.
Batman:Wanted to give you a heads-up. We have reason to believe Grodd’s headed your way.”
Solovar: [takes a potshot around a barrier] “You don’t say! That might explain the armies of supervillains attacking the city.”
Batman:How bad?
Solovar: “We’re being taken over. They’ve already taken the central control tower. We could use some help if you have any to spare. Can’t chat. Signing off!

Justice League “Dead Reckoning” (Season 3, Episode 6)

Sam Simeon isn’t the only psychic gorilla running around the DC Universe. Meet our number four superhero monkey: Solovar.

Solovar was a gorilla of average intelligence until a meteor crashed into Africa. The radiation made Solovar super-intelligent and psychic, allowing him to uplift the rest of his tribe. They founded Gorilla City, a hidden technocratic utopia with Solovar as king. 

The gorillas lived in peace until Grodd led a coup d’etat, seeking to conquer the world. King Solovar defeated him with help from The Flash, who became the first human welcomed in Gorilla City. Solovar helped Flash many times, even participating in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He eventually revealed Gorilla City to the world and petitioned the U.N. for membership, but was assassinated by Grodd before the process could be finalized.

#3 Hit-Monkey

Type of Ape: Japanese Macaque
Series: Deadpool, Hit-Monkey


Hit-Monkey #1

He’s the only superhero monkey on this list who can’t speak English, but Hit-Monkey’s actions are louder than words.

A tribe of Macaque monkeys discovered a badly wounded assassin on the run from a gang. They nursed him back to health, but one of the monkeys didn’t trust him. The monkey watched the assassin practice his techniques, learning to perform them himself.  

That monkey was banished for attacking his tribe over the human, sparing him from a massacre when the gang later found the assassin. The monkey took the assassin’s guns and clothes, swore to avenge his tribe, and became Hit-Monkey.

If you want to know more about Hit-Monkey, we invite you to check out his backstory.

#2 Detective Chimp

Type of Ape: Chimpanzee
Series: Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog, Justice League Dark

[Detective Chimp has caught a villain]
Batman: [hands him a banana] “Excellent detective work, old chum.”
Chimp:Don’t patronize me, ‘old chum’.

Batman: the Brave and the Bold “The Golden Age of Justice!” (Season 2, Episode 5)

Gorillas are overwhelmingly the popular choice for superhero monkeys, but they aren’t the only option. Step into the office of DC Comics’ foremost simian sleuth, Detective Chimp.

Bobo T. Chimpanzee was a performing circus monkey whose trainer would coach him in solving fake mysteries. He discovered the Fountain of Youth while working with Rex the Wonder Dog, both of them gaining immortality and the ability to speak every language from the waters.

Detective Chimp’s circus gig folded when he began deducing real crimes that audience members had committed. He opened a successful detective agency, but grew jaded because he couldn’t legally force clients to pay their bills and was seen as a novelty. 

Detective Chimp became a bitter alcoholic, only lured out of a bottle by an interesting case or a hero asking for his help. He was eventually recruited for Justice League Dark, letting him test his deductive reasoning and fighting skills against mystical threats.

#1 Sun Wukong

Type of Ape: Unknown (Mystical Being)
Series: Journey to the West

Wukong:You may proceed now, Master. Those robbers have been exterminated by old Monkey.
Tripitaka: “That’s a terrible thing you have done! If you have such abilities, you should have chased them away. Why did you slay them all? How can you be a monk if you take life without cause? You showed no mercy at all…
Wukong:Master, if I hadn’t killed them, they would have killed you!”
Tripitaka:As a priest, I would rather die than practice violence.

Journey to the West

Our number one superhero monkey is the oldest, the most adapted, and was a runner-up for our list of the Top 5 Mythological Superheroes. Meet the immortal Monkey King: Sun Wukong.

Wukong was an unnaturally intelligent monkey born from a stone egg on a mountain top. He joined a tribe of monkeys and became their king by finding the source of a waterfall. When one of his friends died, Wukong went on a journey to become immortal. He succeeded, gaining immortality seven times over through various means. He also earned many treasures and magical techniques that made him almost invincible.

The Monkey King’s immortality and rebellious antics angered the gods, but their attempts to destroy him failed. He eventually met his match in The Buddha, who imprisoned Wukong for five hundred years to teach him humility. A bodhisattva freed him in exchange for protecting a monk named Tripitaka on his pilgrimage to India.

Wukong protected Tipitaka and their allies from bandits, demons, and other threats. Tripitaka possessed an incantation that caused Wukong pain, which he used to curb his darker impulses. The Monkey King learned the tenets of Buddhism during their journey, eventually reaching enlightenment and becoming a buddha himself.

Journey to the West is one of the most influential works in Eastern literature, meaning that Sun Wukong has made plenty of appearances in other media. He’s appeared as a hero and a villain, inspired several superheroes, become a Pokemon, and much more. The most famous adaptation of Sun Wukong is Son Goku from Dragon Ball, which began as a retelling of the story before branching off into its own plot.

Who is your favorite superhero monkey? Tell us in the comments.

Image: Hit-Monkey courtesy of Marvel

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