Now with 75% more tangents!
This is one of those stories that DC would typically start with a question; perhaps a splash page of Gorilla Grodd stomping on Green Lantern as the narration wonders how this could be, or where's the Flash, or why GL can't take him. Instead, "The Secret Origin of Gorilla Grodd!" opens with Hal getting reamed by his bosses, the Guardians of the Universe. Hal's performance review isn't going very well, as the Guardians accuse him of "unleashing a terrible menace on your home world, Terra!"
The incident in question was from Green Lantern #1, "Planet of Doomed Men!" and to be fair, I'm not 100% sure Hal knew about the Guardians at that point. A quick re-reading of that issue, revealed that the Guardians hadn't let Hal remember them yet, so he was just taking occasional instructions from his lantern. Hmm. Well, that would probably have been more fun, thinking you're the only one in the universe with a magic ring (and bossy lantern); not just one out of a couple thousand, with bosses and limits and rules and expectations. Phooey.
(Incidently, where are the terrifying Green Lanterns? There's robots, bird-head guys, plants, planets, the occasional amorphous blob, and so on; but where are the crab monsters, the drooling spiders, the Lovecraftian nameless things? I'm sure there's lots of scary, horrible monsters that would be noble and shining members of the Green Lantern Corps, but no, they have to give rings to Ch'p or that easily squishable one that looked like a hummingbird.)
The Guardians roll a clip from GL #1, stating that their recorders picked up Hal's thoughts "as well as the physical action," and based on that, I really really hope for Hal's sake that new Brave and the Bold issue with Supergirl was 'off the clock.' Brrr.
How many sidebars have I had so far? Two? Three? Even for me, that's pretty bad. Anyway, they watch Hal, on the alien world Calor, fight the Dryg; a giant, mohawked, telepathic ape thing. With pointy ears, and no visible genitalia, thank Rao. After an epic five-panel battle, Hal freezes the Dryg, and dumps it at one of the planet's polar regions to stay frozen. (Assuming it was 'frozen like Captain America frozen,' and not 'frozen like the steaks in my freezer frozen.') Then Hal split back for earth to strike out with Carol, again.
The Guardians roll back the tape to point out a speck in the distance, which when enlarged and viewed from a completely different angle, turns out to be a gorilla. A helpful, sacrilegious Guardian explains evolution basics for you, and points out that Calor is that much-ballyhooed planet where apes evolved from men. Hal went to a southern elementary school, and is understandably confused.
(Boo! I'm just on the agnostic side of godless, but can't we all just accept evolution? I have a less hard time believing God created the universe over millions of years, then slowly evolved single-celled organisms into men. Creating the universe in six twenty-four hour days is allegory, not fact. And dinosaur bones don't come from Satan. Like Satan could influence Walt Simonson's signature! Christ...)
Man, this thing's going to go completely off the rails any time now. Deep breath: The Guardians roll footage of the gorilla hightailling it back to his gorilla city...the Gorilla City, as it turns out, home of the Super-Gorillas previously seen in issues of the Flash. Our nameless gorilla reaches his leader Solovar, and outlines an admittedly clever plan to use their mighty brains to tap into Green Lantern's power ring, and move their whole civilization off of the increasingly volcanic Calor.
Hal has a moment to be kind of impressed with himself, towing an entire city through space without knowing it; before the Guardians step all over that.
But, during the twenty-minute trip to Earth, our unnamed gorilla declares that since he found their Green Lantern mule and saved all of them, he should be the new leader. Solovar says maybe he should wait for the next election, at which point mystery gorilla decides to invoke the 25th amendment all over Solovar's face. Cue somewhat graceless gorilla fight.
Hmm, not enough biting or crap-throwing or whatever. Since this fight is during the move to earth, it destabilizes the whole mess, and the city is damaged by "Planetoids--crashing down upon us!" That turns out to be a lucky break, as a falling hunk of debris knocks out the unnamed gorilla, whom we all now know as...Grodd.
Green Lantern had previously fought Grodd, but in the version he knew, Gorilla City had been there for eons. (Hopefully with a better name.) According to the Guardians, that's a load of crap; and the Calorian gorillas made it up because they were afraid of being deported. Yeah, they could get thrown off earth like Superman, the Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkwoman...
Hal good-naturedly asks if the Guardians want him to forcibly relocate the gorillas, because if not their secret was no skin off his ass. The Guardian tell him there's more: the imprisoned Grodd was able to tap the power ring's energy and free himself. Grodd's next step is to head into the jungle, and send a telepathic message to lure in Green Lantern. That has the added bonus of 'blocking yet another date with Carol.
(Print out like several hundred of these. Stick them on top of every panel Green Lantern's in, ever. You're welcome.)
Hidden, Grodd is able to get the ring to make a hammer, but Hal's still able to block it. Grodd then takes the direct approach: announcing himself to GL, then sucker-punching him. The ring won't come off Hal's finger (?) but Grodd is still able to use it's power, which leads to a giant gorilla stomping up a city full of gorillas. Gorillas, gorillas, gorillas. The word's losing all meaning for me, and I may never do that Tarzan post now...
Hal wakes up, his ring presumably having prevented Grodd from punching his head off. He fights the giant Grodd, echoing the fight with the Dryg; then realizes Giant-Grodd is just an energy duplicate. Actually, Hal probably wouldn't have picked up on that if Grodd hadn't jumped up and announced it, leaving himself open to GL's liquid-oxygen attack.
Solovar thanks Green Lantern for saving the city...by wiping his mind of any memory of it. Since by that time in the current continuity, Gorilla City was known, accepted, and ruined by tourists; the Guardians figured they could let Hal know the rest of the story. Ignoring more mindrape, GL is amused that he fought and beat Grodd before Flash ever heard of him; which probably isn't going to sound as funny to the Flash.
HAL: Hey, Barry, guess what? Turns out, the gorillas in Gorilla City aren't really gorillas! They're gorilla-aliens, and I brought them to earth! Isn't that something?
BARRY: What the hell, man! Grodd killed like forty people in Central City last week! He ate an entire S.W.A.T. team and ripped the face off a nun!
HAL: Um...they were hitchhiker gorilla-aliens?
BARRY: Jesus, Hal! Grodd's controlled my mind before. My mind, Hal. It's like having an 800-pound gorilla squatting down in your friggin' skull. Unpleasant, Hal, unpleasant.
HAL: (softly) I'm sorry, Barry. (hangs head)
BARRY: Ah...it's not your fault, Hal. It's ok. (muttering)I swear, I can still taste ape fur.
Other oddities: The gorillas of Calor, while allegedly one of the most advanced societies in the history of ever, never themselves mastered space travel, presumably because they didn't have any monkeys for the test flights. That, or gorilla hair always clogs the instruments.
This story, and the other two in this issue, were pretty much apocryphal even before Crisis and everything. Gorilla City is considered to be homegrown today, which is just as well, otherwise the current Zoom would be directly Hal's fault...
Deep breath: From Green Lantern #1, reprinted in DC Blue Ribbon Digest #4, "Planet of the Doomed Men!" Written by John Broome, art by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.
From Fantastic Four #345, "The Mesozoic Mambo!" Written and drawn by Walt Simonson...although, I didn't find the credits flipping through the issue.
And mainly, from DC Super-Stars Presents #14, "G--as in Guardians, Green Lantern, and Gorilla Grodd!" Written by Bob Rozakis, art by Rich Buckler and Bob Layton.