September 3, 2009

Konga #13 [1963]

In the early 1960s, Steve Ditko drew a total of fifteen comics for Charlton featuring KONGA, based on the British science fiction movie of the same name about a chimp who gets mutated into a giant gorilla. You know, I can accept the giant part, but what's the logic of the cross-species transformation?

Anyway, #13 features the 20-page story "The Peacemaker", written by Joe Gill and drawn by Ditko. It begins with Konga in the Arctic, where he fishes for killer whales (with an amusing panel of the relatively tiny whales nibbling on his giant fingers). The climate gives him the chills, though, so he heads down to South America, where he encounters the forces of El Presidente, the tyrant of the small nation of Moderno, who is planning to blow up a bridge to stage a train accident as a pretext for a communist backed takeover of a neighbouring nation. Kind-hearted Konga foils that plan, lifting the train across the gap, earning the ire of the tyrant. Various attacks on Konga only serve to destroy all the military equipment that was intended for the invasion, and finally Konga faces El Presidente himself, stopping the tyrant's attempts to escape and in the process returning some of the wealth of the nation he planned to steal to the people. Finally he can relax in the sulfur springs in peace to get rid of his cold.

A very funny story, with a lot of moments of slapstick humour and sight gags. Konga is a great twist on the giant monster formula, with his kind and playful nature contrasting with the "force of nature" aspect that his size makes inevitable.

This story, along with three other Konga stories and another amusing Gill/Ditko short from KONGA #8 were reprinted in crisp black and white by Robin Snyder in the 1989 collection THE LONELY ONE, still available from the publisher.

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