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Congorilla #1

writer: James Robinson
artists: Brett Booth
and Norm Rapmund

One's a golden gorilla with the brain of a British pulp hero and the power to change into a giant golden gorilla. One's a strange blue visitor from another planet with an energy crystal implanted in his chest and the power to upset the Westboro Baptist Church on more levels than its membership can comprehend. Together they fight injustice with their fellow members of the Justice League.

Except this month they can't. Because Starman has been acting out on his grief by losing himself in sex and alcohol, he and Congorilla didn't answer the call that ended with the League getting trapped in an energy dome in Washington, D.C.

Instead they have a grand and more concise adventure, one that begins out of the tragedy of Cry For Justice and ends in a repudiation of that self-same work. And if that doesn't quite redeem that most hated (yet still best-selling) mini-series of the decade, it does redeem writer James Robinson.

This one-shot has the energy, the characterization and the battered optimism that has infused the best of Robinson's work -- and though you wouldn't be able to quickly reference Firearm, you can compare it to the great Starman, which featured a different Starman, but still...

In that series, Robinson gave the blue-skinned alien a very human personality without quite making him human, and he carries that through to a more natural conclusion here, as Mikaal has to realize that he has the same drives and sorrows as anyone else on Earth. Yet they must be subsumed to push him forward in the role of hero that he has chosen for himself.

On the other hand, Congorilla was human, but now has to make do in his supersimian form. Yet let's face it; he's far more interesting this way. Deep down, he knows it, too.

While occasionally deep, and grappling with the grim and gritty that came before, this book is actually fun. Maybe it's the giant gorillas; maybe it's that Robinson is purposely trying to move past a mindset (probably forced from above) that shock is the same thing as simply writing a compelling story.

The cry for justice has finally been answered. Sorry we had to go through that first part, but Starman/Congorilla makes up for it.

Derek McCaw

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