Real Name: Chemistry
Identity/Class: Ape (species unidentified - see
active in the 1930s;
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Theodore Marley "Ham" Brooks
Habeas Corpus, William Harper "Johnny" Littlejohn, Andrew Blodgett "Monk" Mayfair, John "Renny" Renwick, Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts, Doctor Clark Savage, Patricia "Pat" Savage
Enemies: Inca in Gray (General Fernanez Vigo)'s
antagonistic towards Habeas Corpus, Andrew Blodgett "Monk" Mayfair (see comments)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Monk Mayfair, "the what-is-it?"
Base of Operations: Ham Brooks apartment, New
York City (see comments);
formerly jungles of Santa Amoza, South America
First Appearance: (literary) Doc Savage Magazine #32: Dust of Death (Street&Smith, October 1935); (Marvel) Doc Savage Magazine#5 (July 1976)
Powers/Abilities: Chemistry is an ape of above
average, near human-level, intelligence. He can understand instructions
given out in English and Mayan, and in the novels (see comments) is
strong enough to knock humans out with a punch but smart enough to
control his strength to avoid seriously injuring them. He is skilled at
brachiating and leaping.
Height: 1'6" (by approximation)
Weight: 12 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Unrevealed (see comments)
(Doc Savage Magazine#32: Dust of Death (fb) - BTS) - Larger than a chimpanzee but smaller than a gorilla, and possessing rust colored fur, the ape later dubbed Chemistry lived in the jungles of the South American republic Santa Amoza. The natives who lived nearby, descendants of the Mayans, apparently considered him a sacred animal.
(Doc Savage Magazine
#32: Dust of Death) - Santa Amoza was at
war with its neighbor, Delezon, a conflict apparently started by the
mysterious Inca in Gray. Visiting Santa Amoza to investigate, "Ham"
Brooks and "Monk" Mayfair, along with Monk's pet pig Habeas Corpus,
became stranded in the jungle following a plane crash. Separated from
his associates, Ham encountered the ape, who took an instant liking to
the dapper lawyer. For his part, Ham was immediately amused by the
striking resemblance between the anthropoid and Monk (see comments),
not only visually but also in terms of the mumbling noises the ape made,
which reminded him of sounds Monk was prone to make when talking to
himself, and even its body language, jumping up and down similar to how
Monk did when he was angry. Despite these astounding similarities, Ham
initially tried to discourage the ape's amiable interest in him, but the
arrival on the scene of Habeas Corpus changed his mind. Though best
friends, Ham and Monk had an enduringly antagonistic relationship, and
Monk had adopted the pig largely as a way of annoying Ham, not only
choosing his name as a taunt at Ham's profession but also training him
to chew holes in the fastidious Ham's clothing. When the pig now
wandered into the clearing containing Ham and the simian, he immediately
stopped warily upon sighting the ape, who took a similar obvious dislike
at the shoat, snatching up a stick and striking him. As Habeas fled
squealing with the ape in pursuit, Ham immediately decided to keep the
ape as a pet, both to annoy Monk and to give Habeas something else to
think about other than devouring Ham's suits. As the ape ambled back
into the clearing, Ham dubbed the creature Chemistry, a reference to
Monk's profession as a world-renowned scientific chemist, and a name
that the animal seemed to readily accept.
Monk was as unimpressed with this as Ham had
hoped once the two men were reunited, and even less so when he witnessed
how Chemistry and Habeas interacted; after his initial attacking of
Habeas with a stick, Chemistry subsequently liked to grab up the
protesting porker and hold him like a pet,
behavior Habeas seemed to dislike even more than being struck.
Subsequently, Ham and Monk were captured by natives, who were being
manipulated by the Inca in Grey's agents. Still free, Habeas made a
nuisance of himself until he was cornered after fleeing into the hut
where Monk and Ham were tied up. The Inca's agents were about to kill
the pig when Chemistry snatched Habeas up protectively; seeing their
sacred ape's actions the natives intervened, making it clear to the
outnumbered agents that they would not permit the pig to be harmed.
Begrudgingly, Monk accepted that Chemistry had saved Habeas' life;
Habeas showed his gratitude by biting Chemistry, then had to flee into
the jungle to evade the ape's renewed wrath.
After Doc Savage and the rest of his team
came to their fellows' rescue and the Inca in Gray was unmasked and
defeated the tribal chieftain gifted Chemistry to Ham, who took him back
to the United States.
(Doc Savage Magazine#5) - On 18th June 1933 Chemistry accompanied Ham to Doc Savage's 86th floor apartment atop the Empire State Building in Manhattan, and sat on the lawyer's shoulders as they watched another of Doc Savage's associates, "Renny" Renwick, examine shipping crates that had been delivered. Moving to sit atop one of the crates, the ape watched with little reaction as Ham, Renny and Doc's remaining associates, "Long Tom" Roberts and "Johnny" Littlejohn, began opening the crates and extracting the contents, but the simian's calm demeanor changed instantly as Monk arrived with Habeas. The two animals immediately began screeching and squealing at each other, a noisy exchange egged on by Monk. Unable to reach Chemistry, Habeas settled for standing by the ape's wooden perch angrily roaring at him. Ignoring this all-too common situation, the humans moved their discussion into the quiet of the adjoining room, leaving the pets to continue their noisy dispute without an audience. After a few minutes Doc and his associates headed out on a mission; the two animals paused their argument to watch them depart, and Monk took the opportunity to remind Habeas to be good and bite the "tailless baboon" every chance he got.
Comments: Created by Harold A. Davis and Lester Dent, writing together under the Street&Smith "house name" (pseudonym) Kenneth Robeson, and Paul Orban (interior illustrator). Brought into Marvel by Doug Moench and Tony DeZuniga.
Chemistry appears in a number of Doc
Savage novels after his debut in Dust of Death. However, for his profile
here I've only included that "origin" story (on the assumption that it
presumably still happened in the 616 Marvel
universe more or less as the novel depicted, or
else Ham wouldn't own a pet ape), and his sole Marvel appearance.
To understand why Ham Brooks, a dapper
lawyer of fastidious habits, would adopt a wild ape he found in South
America, it's necessary to understand the dynamics of the relationship
between Ham and his friend Monk. Brigadier General Theodore Marley
Brooks and Lieutenant Colonel
Andrew Blodgett Mayfair met during the Great War (World War I).
Despite genuinely being friends, willing to lay down their lives for one
another, their outward relationship is almost unremittingly
antagonistic, stemming in large part from practical jokes they played on
one another back during that conflict. Mayfair gained the nickname Monk
because of his apelike appearance - long simian arms, thick red body
hair and a sloping almost Neanderthal-brow. For a joke, Brooks taught
Monk some "compliments" in French to say to a visiting French general,
which got Monk promptly thrown in the guardhouse for several days. Less
than a week after Monk was released, a shipment of hams was stolen from
the supplies. At the scene of the crime investigators found Marley's
billfold with his private papers inside, and when Marley's quarters were
searched as a result the missing pork was found there. A sharp lawyer,
Marley eventually cleared himself of the resultant charges, but not
before news of the incident spread across the army. Everyone had a good
laugh at Marley's expense and he gained the nickname Ham as a result, a
cognomen he did not appreciate. Though he (rightly) suspected Monk of
stealing the hams and planting the evidence, Ham was never able to prove
it. So Monk taking on a pig for a pet and naming it Habeas Corpus as a
nod to Ham's profession was a way to constantly remind Ham of this
humiliation. And when serendipity gave Ham a chance to return the favor
by getting himself a pet ape that resembled Monk and naming it Chemistry
as a nod to Monk's profession, there was no way to pass Ham was going to
pass it up. Though Chemistry is antagonistic towards Habeas Corpus and
both Habeas and Monk are antagonistic towards Chemistry in turn, they
are all still on the same side when push comes to shove, willing to risk
themselves to protect the others should the need arise.
The novel describes Chemistry as a "tailless
monkey," which presumably means he's actually an ape of some variety.
Actually, there is one species of monkey, the Barbary Macaque, that lacks a tail. I have no idea how it compares to Chemistry--Snood
His species is indeterminate. The novels describe him as being larger
than a chimp but smaller than a gorilla, and include at least one
illustration that place him close to man-sized. Doc Savage and Johnny,
both expert scientists with a good grasp of anthropology, decide they
can't categorize Chemistry. Monk even nicknames Chemistry "the
what-is-it?" Chemistry's nearly as intelligent as a human, covered in
rust-colored (e.g. reddish) fur, clearly understands both English and
Mayan, and importantly, resembles Monk so closely that not only is it
the first thing Ham comments on when he meets Chemistry, calling the ape
and Monk twins, but in later novels Chemistry is occasionally dressed up
in human clothing and people genuinely mistake him for Monk. Since afaik there are no apes native to South America, and there's
not even evidence of any in fossils thus far found, meaning no past
species that have gone extinct, it's been speculated among Doc Savage
fans that Chemistry might have been a Mangani, one of the apelike beings
that raised Tarzan (and both the Mangani and Tarzan exist in 616),
somehow relocated to South America. Another option restricted to 616
also suggests itself - we know there is an underground passage to the
Savage Land in South America, and simian-looking humanoids native to
that isolated locale, so maybe Chemistry was one of the Savage Land's
Man-Apes, or a related species? Or he might have been, if not for what I
will discuss in the next paragraph.
As readers of the profile above might
have already spotted, Marvel's version of Chemistry is notably different
from his novel version. I'm unsure if that was deliberate or through the
artist simply not realizing he was depicting a very different-looking
ape, but regardless of the reasons, 616 Chemistry is small enough to sit
on Ham's shoulders, and while someone might insultingly compare the
apelike Monk to him, no sane person could ever mistake one for the
other, no matter how well dressed Chemistry was. The picture to the
left, taken from an illustration in the original 1935 printing of Doc
Savage Magazine#35, shows how Chemistry was originally envisioned to
look, and you can see how he and Monk might be mistaken from one another
under the right circumstances - e.g. the right clothing, a little
distance and some poor lighting.
Profile by Loki.
Chemistry has no known connections to:
Doc Savage Magazine#5,
p21, pan2 (main image)
Doc Savage Magazine#5, p15, pan4 (sitting on Ham's shoulder)
Doc Savage Magazine#5, p31, pan1 (with Habeas Corpus)
Doc Savage Magazine#32: Dust of Death interior illustration#4 (Monk, Ham and Chemistry, as depicted in original novels)
Doc Savage Magazine#32: Dust of Death (Street&Smith, October 1935) - Harold A. Davis and Lester Dent (writers), Paul Orban (art), unknown editor
Doc Savage Magazine#5 (July 1976) - Doug Moench (writer), Tony DeZuniga (art), John Warner (editor)
First Posted: 05/28/2021
Last updated: 05/28/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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