Real Name: Franz Radzik
Identity/Class: Technology user
Occupation: Scientist, astronaut
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Professor Stuyvesant
Enemies: Gorilla (name unrevealed)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: "Gorilla-Man" (in story titles)
Base of Operations:
Mobile in outer space;
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#28/1 (February, 1962)
Powers/Abilities: An inventive genius, Radzik created an Electro-Magnetic Ray Machine that exchanged the personalities between two living creatures. Radzik briefly inhabited the body of a kitten, then eventually transferred his psyche into the body of a gorilla, giving him the gorilla's natural strength, agility, and fearsome appearance. Radzik also knew how to play poker and ping-pong, and could drive a stick-shift automobile.
(Tales to Astonish I#28/1 (fb) / 30/1(fb)) - The past of Franz Radzik is unknown, but he was ordered to leave an unidentified European country when he was judged to be conducting dangerous and illegal experiments. He took a train to Transylvania, where he set up his lab in an old castle and continued his project. After months of ceaseless work, Radzik finally built a device that allowed him to exchange bodies with other living creatures. He first tested the machine by transferring his mental essence into the body of a kitten. He discovered that while he had complete control of the feline's form, the kitten's personality was too primitive to control his human body and it was unable to move. Deeming the experiment to be a success, Radzik (in the kitten's body) activated the reverse switch and sent his personality back to his own body. Determined to embark on a career of crime, the scientist next wanted a creature with a suitably powerful form, so Radzik drove to a local zoo to steal a gorilla--with its body, he would be able to scale the highest walls, break through the strongest doors, and terrorize the bravest victims. Arriving after-hours at the closed zoo, Radzik knocked out the guard with a chloroform-soaked rag, then easily coaxed the ape into his van (although he kept a handgun ready, in the event the beast attacked). Radzik drove the simian back to his lab and activated the machine to transfer himself into the gorilla's body, then the sinister scientist was ready to take on the world ("Let mankind tremble!"). But suddenly, the gorilla (in Radzik's body) pointed the gun at him and told him his mistake was exchanging bodies with an animal that was just one evolutionary step below a human--because of this fact, the gorilla had complete control over Radzik's human body. The (former) gorilla further explained that it understood the evil intentions Radzik had for its body, so it decided to keep Radzik's body and make better use of it than he ever did. Since he feared being shot, Radzik could only comply when the new "Franz Radzik" telephoned the zoo officials and informed them where they could find their missing "gorilla".
(Tales to Astonish I#28/1) - About a year later, Radzik (still in the gorilla body) sat in his zoo cage. He noticed that the longer he remained in the gorilla's body, the weaker his human personality was becoming. He could no longer speak, but he no longer wanted to ("...after all, what's so bad about being a gorilla?" he thought).
(Tales to Astonish I#30/1 - BTS) - Radzik found that his mind had not deteriorated as he initially suspected.
(Tales to Astonish I#30/1) - Radzik's contentment was short-lived, for he longed for his freedom and to be a man again. One day, an unruly child was teasing Radzik and threw a pack of crayons at him. He grabbed one of the crayons and hid it until the zoo closed, then Radzik scrawled a message on his cage wall: SET ME FREE AND I WILL REWARD YOU. The curious guard saw the ape writing, so he opened the cage door to investigate, then Radzik overpowered him and made his escape. As he lumbered across the countryside, Radzik thought of returning to his lab, but figured his machine had long since been destroyed. He noticed he was near the home of Professor Stuyvesant and thought that the professor and his colleagues might be able to help him change back to normal. But when Radzik climbed over a wall and onto the professor's estate, he burned his hands on an electric fence--because of this injury, he would no longer be able to write. Hearing the commotion outside, Stuyvesant came out of the house with a gun, expecting to find a burglar, and he was shocked to see a gorilla instead. Radzik grabbed the professor, disarmed him, and carried him into the house, where he proceeded to lock the door and windows and pulled the phone line out of the wall. Although frightened, Stuyvesant saw all this and sensed the gorilla had intelligence--he thought aloud that perhaps the gorilla was something more than just a dumb brute, and his assumption was confirmed when the gorilla nodded his head in agreement. Stuyvesant notified the Academy of Science and presented Radzik to the scholars as a remarkable gorilla with human-level intelligence. They were all amazed when the "gorilla" easily assembled a jigsaw puzzle, but they were further impressed when it demonstrated that it knew how to play poker and ping-pong, and could even drive a stick-shift car! Radzik was eventually loaded into a truck and driven away; he assumed he was being taken to a laboratory for more tests, but when the truck stopped, he was forced into a rocket and launched into space--it seemed the scientists didn't want to risk the life of a human being for the experimental space flight, but they thought it was fortunate that they found that intelligent "gorilla" to use, instead!
Comments: Created by Larry Lieber & Stan Lee (plot), Jack Kirby (pencils) and Dick Ayers (inks).
Radzik's final fate is unknown--maybe he was captured by the Stranger and imprisoned on his Lab World; or maybe he ran into Hunk Larkin (see Magneto) (who was also sent on a one-way trip into space).
In the the sequel story (TTA I#30) on the second page as they're doing a re-cap flashback of the original story, Radzik looks completely different--he's huskier, blond hair, no monocle or goatee beard. Maybe the blond guy was the idealized version of how Radzik saw himself (or how he'd like to look).
Assuming this story took place in the year it was published, the rocket Radzik was launched in was likely one from the U.S.S.R. (since Transylvania/Romania was one of its satellite countries at the time). Maybe this particular space flight inspired Ivan Kragoff (Red Ghost) to use a trio of trained primates for his crew when he made his flight to Earth's moon (@ Fantastic Four I#13).
Similar personality-swapping machines were also created by Dr. Bradford and Dr. Karl Stragg.
And a BIG Thank You to James Sharpe for the scans!
Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for identifying the creators, and that Gorilla-Man's first appearance in issue #28/1 was retold as "Grayson's Gorilla!" in Tales to Astonish I#48/3 (October, 1963).
Profile by John Kaminski.
Franz Radzik, the Gorilla-Man, has no known connections to:
Electro-Magnetic Ray Machine
The invention of Franz Radzik, it was a large machine that projected an energy beam which exchanged the mental essences between two living beings. Radzik first tested it by transferring his personality into the body of a kitten, and later used it to transfer his mind into the body of a gorilla.
--Tales to Astonish I#28/1
The unnamed gorilla was once on display at a Transylvanian zoo until it was stolen one night by Franz Radzik. Radzik transferred his mind into the gorilla's body via his Electro-Magnetic Ray Machine and was planning to use the gorilla's body to commit crimes. The mental transference was a success, but the gorilla (now in Radzik's body) threw a "monkey-wrench" into the evil scientist's scheme when he turned the tables on him and forced him to take its place at the zoo. Now with a human body, the new "Franz Radzik" vowed to make better use of his life than the original had.
--Tales to Astonish I#28/1
Apparently a former associate of Franz Radzik, Professor Stuyvesant was a scientist who lived in Transylvania. One night he went to investigate when he heard a prowler outside his house, and was shocked to see that it was a gorilla (but unknown to Stuyvesant, it was actually Radzik, who had transferred his mind into a gorilla's body). After learning that the "gorilla" had an uncanny human-level intellect, Stuyvesant and his fellow scientists launched it into space aboard an experimental rocket because they did not want to risk the life of a human being.
--Tales to Astonish I#30/1
Tales to Astonish I#28/1, p3, pan2 (main image)
Tales to Astonish I#28/1, p6, pan4 (headshot)
Tales to Astonish I#30/1, p1 (as Gorilla-Man)
Tales to Astonish I#28/1, p3, pan3 (machine)
Tales to Astonish I#28/1, p6, pan3 (gorilla)
Tales to Astonish I#30/1, p4, pan5 (Stuyvesant)
Tales to Astonish I#28/1 (February, 1962) - Larry Lieber & Stan Lee (plot), Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Tales to Astonish I#30/1 (April, 1962) - uncredited writer, Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Last updated: 08/11/10
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