Real Name: Inapplicable
Identity/Class: Terrestrial animal (gorilla) mutate(1950s era)
Occupation: Carnival attraction
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: His trainer
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Bongo (as called by his trainer); "the Eighth Wonder of the World" (as referred to by himself)
Base of Operations: Mobile; originally from an unidentified African jungle
First Appearance: Strange Worlds#5/3 (August, 1959)
Powers/Abilities: Bongo had all the standard natural attributes of other members of his species.
After being bombarded by the radiation of an atomic blast, Bongo was temporarily endowed with genius-level intelligence, and the ability to eloquently speak. However, his mutation seemed to be dependent upon his proximity to the radiation--as Bongo wandered away from the radioactive area, his intelligence diminished back to normal.
Height: 6' (by approximation)
Weight: 500 lbs. (by approximation)
(Strange Worlds#5/3 (fb) - BTS) - Bongo was apparently captured in the jungles of Africa; he was eventually transported to America, locked in a cage, and became an attraction at a traveling carnival.
(Strange Worlds#5/3) - One night, while the carnival was set up somewhere in the south-western United States (see comments), Bongo escaped from his cage after his trainer forgot to lock it.
Bongo wandered off into the desert, eventually passing by a warning sign--RESTRICTED AREA: ATOMIC TESTING GROUND--and he was unaware of the potential peril he could be facing (Whatcha expect?! He's a gorilla! The big ape couldn't read!).
Bongo continued to walk farther into the desert, and by sunrise, he found himself standing before the mushroom cloud of an atomic explosion.
As a result of the radioactive bombardment, the grunting gorilla was changed--he could now speak...and read...and write! Bongo felt wave after wave of knowledge seeping into his brain--he suddenly had a crystal-clear understanding of language, mathematics, and science. Realizing that the atomic radiation had made him the mental equal of any human, and considering the fact that he already had the strength of a dozen men, Bongo surmised that he was the most fantastically powerful creature on Earth!
While idly walking around the testing site, Bongo wondered aloud how he should use his new-born powers. As he punched a rock and shattered it, he thought that he could use his powers for evil and terrify the nation--he could become the worst menace since Genghis Khan, and no one could stop him!
But then Bongo had a change of heart--he could instead use his unbelievable powers for good and teach humans a new philosophy! He could show mankind how to think like nature's creatures, and thus drive jealousy, envy, greed, and hatred from their hearts, and thereby find a way to end wars!
Bongo reached a final decision: He would lead the human race to a new golden age!
Determined to begin his mission for the betterment of mankind, Bongo started to walk back to the carnival. But as the mutated ape continued to get farther away from the testing area, the atomic rays grew weaker, and Bongo's intellect began to diminish--his thoughts became clouded, and by the time he walked past the warning sign, Bongo's advanced intellect was gone, for he had returned to being a normal grunting gorilla.
Bongo instinctively went back to the carnival--his trainer was relieved to see him again; the gorilla was locked back in his cage...and so Bongo was returned to his life of merely being a carnival attraction.
Comments: Created by Stan Lee and Paul Reinman.
A road sign indicated that the carnival was 60 miles from Los Alamos.
Since Bongo wasn't incinerated by that blast, my guess is that it wasn't a "standard" atomic bomb, but rather an experimental device that only emitted radiation, with minimal destructive power.
The basic plot of this 4-page story--I Am...Gorilla!--would sort of be redone a few years later, but with a different animal (see "Lion King").
Profile by Ron Fredricks.
Bongo the gorilla has no known connections to:
Somewhere in the desert
of the south-western United States (see
comments), unidentified members of the military and
science fields were stationed in a bunker, about to test an atomic bomb (see comments).
He (name unrevealed)
worked with a traveling carnival, where he displayed Bongo the gorilla.
images: (without ads)
Strange Worlds#5/3, p1, pan1 (Main Image - Bongo in cage; carnival barker and spectators (background))
Strange Worlds#5/3, p4, pan3 (Headshot - Bongo, with intelligence)
Strange Worlds#5/3, p3, pan5 (after atomic blast, Bongo discovers he has human-level intelligence)
Strange Worlds#5/3, p4, pan8 (Bongo back in his cage, after his intelligence has faded)
Strange Worlds#5/3, p2, pan8 (scientists and military in bunker, about to detonate bomb)
Strange Worlds#5/3, p3, pan2 (Bongo in front of atomic blast)
Strange Worlds#5/3, p4, pan7 (with his advanced intellect gone, Bongo returns to carnival and his trainer)
Strange Worlds#5/3 (August, 1959) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Paul Reinman (artist)
First Posted: 11/23/2020
Last updated: 11/23/2020
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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