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Strange Adventures 100
"The Amazing Trial of John (Gorilla) Doe!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND January, 1959

Story: John Broome Art: Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella

(Originally Reviewed On 09/10/01)

A thief is on the loose. He has stolen a first-grade primer, some phonograph records, and several vials of radium! As the nation wondered where the thief would next appear, none would ever guess that he would turn himself in at the local police station, much less when the officers saw him enter, and are about to follow their orders to shoot on sight, that their quarry would speak up and offer his surrender, much less be a gorilla! (Holy Peebles, Batman! This about sums up the whole magilla!)

The owner of a traveling sideshow is asked by one of his employees about the new gorilla, to which he has no idea, especially since the only one they have is one known as Chambo! As the two men make their way to the gorilla cage, both are startled to see a second gorilla alongside Chambo! The rest of the employees gather around the cage, and their presence strikes fear into the other gorilla, who begins to pull the iron bars apart, then run away before the authorities can be called!

On radio, listeners hear about the mysterious gorilla, whose origins are unknown, and helicopters are combing the area, with groups of armed men also in on the search! (Holy Heston, Batman! This is another planet of hairless apes!) At a schoolhouse, a student looks out the window and soon, the whole class see the escaped gorilla in their midst. While the teacher and her students watch in fascination, the gorilla picks up a primer, then leaves, while the arriving authorities can only wonder why the thief would have stolen such an item! (Holy RIF, Batman! Books don't grow on trees!)

The following day finds the police following up a lead at a record store, where the owner tells them how a gorilla broke into his store and made off with a bunch of records and a player, to which the humble beat policeman can only wonder. (Holy Hot Wax, Batman! Music hath charm to soothe the savage breast, but this is ridiculous!) In the hills, the gorilla next makes his appearance at an atomic laboratory, and before an armed sentry can open fire, the gorilla knocks the rifle from his hands, then bends it in two! The theft included several vials of radium! (Holy It's Science with, Batman! We're dealing with a lab monkey!)

What the gorilla wishes with the radium, let alone his whereabouts are a mystery in the papers, while park rangers speculate on the money value of the radium he stole. Two days pass, then in a nearby town, the gorilla surrenders himself to the authorities, who are inclined to shoot him, but his plea for a peaceful surrender stops them in their tracks! He asserts his right to stand trial, while the officers contact their chief for their next orders. As news of the situation spreads, the gorilla will get his trial in a court of law since it has been decided that he is intelligent and is morally responsible for his actions, as an editor's note reminds us about Ammendment VI of the U.S. Constitution which reads that the accused will enjoy the right to a speedy trial, but does not refer to the accused as a person! (Holy Ingersoll, Batman! When it came to speedy trials, even The Fastest Man Alive was mired in the mud!)

The country watches and listens as the trial of John (Gorilla) Doe begins, and he is charged with stealing the radium, his guilt seemly assured, but a protest of innocence from the defendant, and a plea to tell his tale assures him the right to be heard in his own defense! (Holy Wapner, Batman! This oughta be good!) Facing the TV camera, John Doe tells why he has asked to be placed on trial, since it was the quickest way he could reach all the world. His story begins two years ago, as a young gorilla in Africa, where he looked up in the sky and saw what he took to be a strange bird come down from the sky! (Holy It's Not A Bird, Batman! What does a rocketship have to do with the talking gorilla?)

Only later did the gorilla realize that he was observing the arrival of a rocketship, and whose crew was assigned to acquire samples of the air... plants... soil... and other items! As the alien explorers began their survey, the young gorilla made his way into the spaceship, where he unknowningly overhears the two aliens make plans for the invasion of the Earth in two years, once data has been scrutinized. At night, the ship makes its way into outer space, but with a stowaway! Both crewmen see the primitive gorilla and note the resemblence between it and them! Fed concentrated food pellets, the young gorilla grew at a super rate, while the aliens realize that he will soon become one of them!

On the planet of Agmoran, by the use of scientific methods, the young gorilla's intelligence is increased, learning to read and speak his adopted culture's language, but one day, he learns the truth behind his benefactors' intentions towards his homeworld, and the invasion of Earth which is designed to make them rulers of the captured world! Knowing that these aliens are gorillas, such as himself, his ties to his home are far stronger, and when the opportunity came to steal one of their spaceships, he uses his newly-learned pilot skills to head for Earth! Upon landing on Earth, he knew that he was unable to communicate the threat with the rest of the inhabitants, but knew that he would have to learn the human language by listening and reading, which explains the odd thefts of records and schoolbooks, as well as his time in the sideshow, in order to overhear human speech. The radium was taken as a component for the weapon necessary to stop The Agmorans, and if released, John Doe would show the armies of Earth how to use it against the invaders! The verict of not guilty is rendered and for his immediate freedom so that John Doe can begin his work on the plan to protect the Earth.

The ray weapon is built and the arriving invaders are driven away from the planet, and with the invasion a failure, it is learned that John Doe has contracted radium poisoning, and will live only six months. The people of Earth are grateful for the heroism of John Doe, and with half a year left to him, the gorilla makes a request to be sent back into the heart of Africa, the land of his birth, where he will spend his final days on the world he helped save, not only for the humans, but for his own race... the gorillas!

A Strange Adventure, where a talking gorilla holds the fate of the world in his hands.

After super-heroes, gorillas were the group which best epitomized the Silver Age of D.C.

In the year of 1959, a gorilla on the loose is newsworthy, and the sibling to Curious George no doubt had readers wondering how the writer came up with this one, not to mention where he was going with it.

If this story took place in the present, the gorilla would probably take a computer, DVD's, CD's, and sit himself at an online cafe.

As in the case of another character, a spaceship would send a native to another world and a new life, but in this case, an unlikely hero would return to his homeworld as its savior.

If one were inclined to commit a retcon, it could be suggested that John Doe's "origin" was a cover for his true status as citizen of Gorilla City.

Steve Chung
"The Amazing Review of John (Gorilla) Doe!"