Monday, April 14, 2014

Ape of the Geek: B'Tonga!

btongaSpecies: Mutant or Mutated Gorilla

First Appearance: The Black Terror #10, Standard Comics

Other Appearances: None (see Biography)

Merchandising: None

Biography: One day, in Bob (Black Terror) Benton's drug store in New York City, the newspaper reports on the capture of a 40-foot tall gorilla by an expedition in Africa. A deep pit trap was used, and it's been imprisoned in a huge metal cage. The ape will be on exhibition in the city park the next day, and has been named B'Tonga. Bob's assistant, Tim (also his partner, The Terror Kid as he's sometimes called, although he's usually just called Tim by his senior partner, even in costume) and Jean, a pretty blonde woman who's a newspaper reporter (and sort of girlfriend to Benton, although she always compares him negatively to his alter ego) plan to join Bob to see the gorilla on display. Elsewhere, in the lab of Dr. Oscar Hoodin, he also sees the headlines. Hoodin is the world's foremost authority on chemical hypnotism, and he believes he can gain control over B'Tonga. He goes to the park that night to put the ape in his control, but when he sees a guard, he approaches the guard and chats with him. When he leaves, he “accidentally” drops a ring, which the guard picks up and tries to return, but Hoodin says is not his. The diamond in the ring is sharp-pointed, and Hoodin figures the guard will be injected with his hypnotic chemicals that way. It happens, and the guard goes into a trance. Hoodin gets the guard to open the cage, and after giving B'Tonga the same chemicals (presumably, although it's not shown), the ape follows him away to Hoodin's hideout in the Kentucky mountains.

The next day, when Bob and his friends arrive, they find the cage empty. Tim finds the ring, having been dropped, and cuts himself on it, falling into a trance. Bob and Jean take Tim back to Bob's drug store, where he analyzes the chemicals on the ring. He tells Jean he'll contact the police, but Jean gets angry and leaves. Bob and Tim change into their costumes and are on the trail. Meanwhile, Hoodin takes B'Tonga to a nearby city, using the giant gorilla to rob the city bank and trust company. The Black Terror learns about this, but instead of going to Kentucky to search, they go to a psychiatrist refugee from Germany Bob knows, who tells them about Hoodin's father, whose work Hoodin is carrying on. The Terror contacts the police, who give him Hoodin's address.

Meanwhile, Jean's found the guard and convinced him to go to a doctor to help him recall what happened under hypnosis. Jean boards a plane to Kentucky, but the plane is struck by lightning as it flies over Fort Knox, and has to make an emergency landing. At the same time, Hoodin has B'Tonga attack Fort Knox! Just then, the Black Terror and Tim are flying overhead in a specially assigned army plane (the Terror is on good terms with the authorities) and they spot the gorilla as well as Jean, who's come upon the situation. The Terror Twins leap from the plane and tackle B'Tonga, but the gorilla's too strong, and he takes the two in his paws.

Later, at Hoodin's home in the mountains, with the Terror Twins, Jean, and a guard tied up, Hoodin injects them with his chemical, but the Black Terror is able to overcome the effects. The Terror finds bananas that have been treated for the gorilla, and takes them to B'Tonga's cage, where he gives them to the gorilla to get him under his control! He frees the ape, but Hoodin arrives, and tells the Terror to order B'Tonga to obey Hoodin, or his friends will be killed. The Terror agrees, but then he attacks Hoodin! Hoodin shoots but misses, and then he orders B'Tonga to kill the Terror. The Terror rips a tree out of the ground to use as a weapon, and uses it to trip the gorilla. Hoodin takes a bottle of acid, intending to throw it on the Terror, but misses and hits B'Tonga. Blinded and burned, B'Tonga runs amok, falling over a cliff to his death. Hoodin is captured, and everyone returns back to New York safely... except B'Tonga.

Powers: B'Tonga is possessed of tremendous strength, and apparently also great intelligence, since he's able to understand Hoodin's spoken commands (this can't be explained by the chemical).

Miscellaneous: Obviously a riff on King Kong, including the gorilla being captured, put on exhibition, and eventually falling to his death, although we're not given any opportunity to feel too sorry for him. I don't know if any later story had other gorillas like B'Tonga found.

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