Titano the Super-Ape is a fictional character appearing in DC Comics, primarily as a foe of Superman, and was likely inspired by Mighty Joe Young and to a better extent, King Kong.
Pre-Crisis (Silver Age) Version
Titano first appeared in Superman
#127 (February 1959). Originally named Toto, he was dubbed "one of the world's most intelligent apes". Rocketed into space, he and his ship were bombarded with radiation, which changed him into a giant ape with incredible strength and the ability to emit beams of Kryptonite
radiation from his eyes. This made the ape a difficult menace for Superman to face. Titano's pre-crisis version would make a reappearance of sorts in Superman/Batman
#28, as a guise for a shape-shifting, telepathic alien entity.
Titano appears, briefly, in Son of Ambush Bug #5, where, masquerading as the prehistoric being known as Primal Bug, he kidnaps Cheeks the Toy Wonder (dressing him as Lois Lane). Ambush Bug, attempting to rescue his son, Cheeks, faces off against Titano in the Late Cretaceous. This was revealed to be a dream sequence.
The Post-Crisis version first appeared in the "Tears for Titano" story in Superman Annual
#1. Titano was originally a normal baby chimpanzee
used in cruel scientific experiments for the U.S. government. An accident caused the ape to gain super-strength and grow to enormous proportions. Attempting to kill Dr. Thomas Moyers, the head of the project whom he saw as his tormentor, Titano was stopped by and engaged in a battle with Superman. Moyers used his equipment to reverse the transformation, thereby killing Titano, who died in the arms of Lois Lane, the only human who had ever shown him love. Lois later wrote the Daily Planet article "Tears for Titano" in honor of the poor chimp.
Another version of Titano later appeared as the mascot of Titano's Pizza. Television advertisements showed a giant ape in a chef's hat defeating "Turtle Boy", who represented the slower delivery of other pizzerias (and was a pastiche of the pizza-loving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). However, Turtle Boy (played by Jimmy Olsen) proved to be much more popular than Titano, and the commercials were discontinued.
In Action Comics #854, a monkey experimented upon by the Kryptonite Man was imbued with Kryptonite radiation, gaining the ability to grow in size and fire kryptonite beams from his eyes, like the pre-crisis Titano. He was eventually calmed down by Mr. Action (Jimmy Olsen) and placed in the care of STAR Labs.
- An episode of the 1967 The New Adventures of Superman cartoon series, has an episode titled "The Chimp Who Made it Big" which was another version of the Titano story. In this episode a chimp astronaut named Toto is sent into outer space and gets hit by cosmic rays. Superman rushes to save the capsule from destruction placing it back on the ground just as Toto suddenly grows right out of the space capsule turning into a monster sized ape. He grabs Lois Lane taking an instant liking to her. Superman tries to stop Titano and is faced with Kryptonite eye beams that the now named monster Titano has. This story was a fairly accurate telling of the Titano story seen in the comic books.
- A different version of Titano appeared in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Monkey Fun" with Titano's vocal effects done by Frank Welker. This Titano was a chimp astronaut that was kept in the home of Lt. Sam Lane. The chimp formed a bond with Lane's 8-year-old daughter Lois. Titano's ship (the Titan 0, from which he got his name) got lost in space and was eventually found twenty years later in a meteor shower by Superman. Gases contained in the meteor caused him to grow to enormous proportions. The now-gigantic Titano wreaked havoc on Metropolis. Only one thing could calm Titano: a toy monkey named Beppo that played Pop Goes the Weasel when squeezed. Superman then relocated Titano to a remote island to live a normal life-span.
Characters based on Titano have occasionally appeared in comics homaging the Silver Age Superman.
- In Alan Moore's Supreme, the Titano equivalent is Stupendo, the Simian Supreme. Stupendo has a similar origin to the Silver Age Titano (except with Supremium radiation), but was subsequently befriended by Supreme, and given a home on Conqueror Island.
- Tom Terrific, a superpowered version of Tom Strong from a universe based on Silver Age tropes, has a companion named Terrifo the Super-Ape, although he may be more the result of combining Strong's gorilla friend King Solomon with Krypto.
- In DC Comics's DC One Million setting, Titano One Million is the Superman-like defender of the Gorilla Galaxy, a direct descendent of Solovar.
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