Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Whatever Happened To Congorilla?" (November, 1980)

Congo Bill started his adventures in "Darkest Africa," but "civilization has arrived and lit up the place." Bill's young white protégé Janu the Jungle Boy was now the grown-up VP of a large industrial firm. Janu was dismissive of natives reacting superstitiously to a comet in the night sky, even though Congo Bill had gained the ability to become Congorilla while the pair still ran about in the bush. Regardless, Janu reported the activity to company president Bill, who was also dismayed that in post-industrial Africa people still believed the fireball heralded the coming of a silver gorilla "which will bestow power, wealth, and long life on all who bring it raw diamonds..." Bill had his aid Okantu call a meeting of the company's staff to quash these rumors, but too many of his staff were unwilling to let go of the native legend.

Congo Bill, Janu, and Okantu made their way to an assembly where Banaka, the Gorilla God, through his representative K'bani, asked "Who will be first to receive his blessing?" Bill felt the best way to expose the scam was to confront this silver gorilla with a golden one, as he prepared to switch his mind with the Congorilla.

Congorilla spied Fred Cantrell, "a crook who was jailed in Nigeria for trying to steal the oil rights to tribal lands," dressed as the silver gorilla. Cantrell and K'bani used fireworks to simulate the mythological fireball, and were quite pleased with the diamonds their racket was raking in. Congorilla decided to fight fire with fire, appearing before the "silver gorilla" and the villagers from out of an incendiary flare. This golden gorilla was also perceived as "the gorilla god of my ancestral tribe," leading to a brawl between the simian "deities." Cantrell had been a pro wrestler, which allowed him an initial advantage over Congorilla, but the crook lacked the strength to finish the job. Congorilla unmasked Cantrell, then allowed the angry mob to carry the false god and K'bani off for some jungle justice, while Bill "appropriated" those raw diamonds to turn over to the authorities.

Later, Okantu congratulated Congo Bill. "You not only exposed those diamond-cheaters, you made our people realize ancient beliefs were superstitious nonsense!" Way to suck up to the rich white oppressor! Besides, Congo Bill was more than capable of applauding himself. "If those swindlers had done their homework, they'd have realized there isn't room for two intelligent gorillas in this land! Besides, gold beats silver every time!"

This back-up story from DC Comics Presents #27 was crafted by Bob Rozakis, Romeo Tanghal, and Frank Chiaramonte. The lead story, "The Key That Unlocked Chaos!", starred Superman & Martian Manhunter.


Aaron said...

This was the story where I first heard of Congorilla, I don't know how I lived before. I like the Whatever Happened To... feature because it gave a sense like things were going on in the background of the DC Universe. Plus you learn about obscure characters, which I always like.

mathematicscore said...

Congorilla has a lot going for it. Personality, dual identity wish fulfillment, an amazing pun of a name... Yeah, I'm down.

Diabolu Frank said...

Note to self: Congorilla rates a faster and larger response than spine-sucking aliens, martial artists and Superman. Who knew?

LissBirds said...

I'll be the lone voice of dissent and say that I'm not really that taken with Congo Bill. Maybe it's the mustache, maybe I just don't like primates enough, maybe you just need a Y chromosome to get it, or maybe it was Justice League: Cry for Justice that pushed me over the edge. (Most likely the latter.) But an interesting post anyway, becuase I know very little about him.

Diabolu Frank said...

Oh, I'm not in any way a Congo Bill fan. Guy's your classic white interloper/exploiter. I just dig variety, and Congorilla is pretty far off the beaten path.