Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ape of the Geek: The Golden Gorilla/Congorilla!

DC Who's Who illustration for Congo Bill and his alter ego.
Species: Gorilla

First Appearance: More Fun Comics #56 (as Congo Bill), Action Comics #248 (as Congorilla)

Other Appearances: Congo Bill had appeared in various DC titles between his introduction in More Fun and being moved to Action Comics. After his run there ended, his strip moved to Adventure Comics, although he also had seven issues of his own title in 1954-1955. He's been shown to be part of the Forgotten Heroes in the pages of Action Comics since then, among heroes such as Dolphin and Rip Hunter. There was a Congo Bill movie serial, and he was featured in a miniseries in the post-Crisis era.

Merchandising: None outside of the movie serial.

Biography: William "Congo Bill" Glenmorgan was a veteran of World War I who later became a globe-trotting adventurer, settling down in Africa and swearing to protect it from harm. During his adventures, he befriended the witch doctor Kawolo, would later pass on a mystic ring to Congo Bill before he died. When this ring was rubbed by the wearer, the wearer's consciousness would be transferred into the body of the legendary Golden Gorilla. Bill didn't believe this, although he pretended to. Weeks later, when Bill was trapped in a deep cave, he rubbed the ring in desperation, finding its powers to be real. In the stronger body of the Golden Gorilla, he was able to free his body from the cave-in, but discovered that while he inhabited the body of the Golden Gorilla, the Gorilla inhabited his own body! Bill decided to use his new powers to fight crime, assisted by Janu, the Jungle Boy. Later in his career, he joined up with the other so-called "Forgotten Heroes" to face off against the menace of Vandal Savage. They were subsequently involved with the Crisis on Infinite Earths. 

Post-Crisis, Bill was betrayed by Janu, who stole the ring and usurped the Congorilla identity for his own means. He had to fight Janu to the death, becoming blind in his left eye in the process. When his human body died, Bill stayed in the Golden Gorilla's body, joining up with Freedom Beast (formerly B'wana Beast), and after the Beast's death, becomes involved in a plot by Prometheus, after which Congorilla joined the Justice League. He later resigned from the JLA to organize the heroes of Africa into a more efficient team.

Powers: In the body of the Golden Gorilla, Congo Bill possesses great strength, perhaps even greater strength than an average gorilla, as well as the agility of the species. Combined with his human intelligence, Congorilla is a powerful foe for the average criminal to deal with.

Miscellaneous: I could have sworn that Congorilla was featured in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold... but I must have imagined it. You'd have thought that a series that featured B'wana Beast as often as it did could've found a spot for him, but apparently not! 

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