Sergeant Gorilla (DC Comics Star Spangled)

Sergeant Gorilla


This gorilla was seen but once, in 1966. He starred in one of the many goofy “weird World War Two” stories that DC Comics published back then. These were often written by my sworn nemesis, muscled master of malevolence Robert Kanigher .

If you want to bring back some campy Silver Age  nonsense, Sergeant Gorilla is thus a good choice. Especially since apes are a well-known symbol of comics during this era.


Powers and Abilities

“Charlie” is an unusually powerful gorilla. He also possesses impressive reflexes and agility – especially for a 600 lbs. animal.

He’s highly adept at mimicking human behaviour, and is implied to be able to pick locks. He seems markedly more intelligent than even a smart real-world gorilla — which is plenty smart.

Charlie has been taught to mimic USMC drills for Donovan’s show. From there found it easy to actually use USMC training in combat, for instance to shoot a Thompson M1 .45 submachinegun. Though he didn’t know how to aim or reload.

He’s very much aware of how firearms and explosives work. Thus he reflexively avoids gunfire, grenades and the like.


“Charlie” was the pet gorilla whom Staff Sergeant Pinky Donovan acquired circa 1939, after two tours of duty with the US Marines Corps. An entertainer, Donovan set up a show with the clever ape.


When the second World War erupted, Donovan was too old to be drafted right away. But he participated to USO shows  to entertain troops in the Pacific. He created a new act with Charlie dressed as an heroic US Marine and himself dressed as a Japanese soldier. Donovan amazed soldiers with how his trained ape mimicked human behaviour and USMC combat drills.

The draft stepped up, and Donovan was required to re-up. This forced him to leave his faithful ape behind. However, the gorilla escaped and somehow sneaked aboard the troop transport carrying Sgt. Donovan toward battle. The ape was still wearing his mock USMC Sergeant uniform.

The C.O.  of the boat was livid. He busted Donovan down to Cpl., assuming that the presence of the gorilla was his fault. Donovan and his ape both ended in the brig.

Going ape

When Donovan and the other Marines stormed a Japanese-held island, Charlie escaped from the brig after the main transport ship was hit. The gorilla armed himself and swiftly swam to the beach where Cpl. Donovan was.

Using a series of rolls to avoid gunfire, he took out the machinegun nest that was pinning the Marines. He then beat back nearby infantry. Though the Marines had a beachhead, the C.O. was furious, and busted Donovan down to private.

Sergeant Gorilla raising the flag

The gorilla nevertheless proved instrumental in taking the island with a minimal amount of casualties. He foiled Imperial Japanese ambushes and helped storm fortifications by surprise.

In the end even the C.O. accepted to rely on Charlie. He had the ape climb up a cliff to set up a rope for the Marines to climb and reach their objective. The gorilla then single-handedly took out the artillery piece that the Marines had come to destroy.

Mollified, the C.O. let the ape set up the American flag atop the newly-conquered fortification. The unit unofficially promoted Charlie to Sergeant — presumably Staff Sergeant since those were the insignia on his show uniform.


See illustrations.


Charlie cannot talk, of course, of course – and seems trained not to make ape noises. This makes it difficult to ascertain his motivation. But it seemed that he wanted to become a real Marine (for instance he taught himself to salute), and to be there for his combat buddy and show-business partner Pinky when the bullets started flying.

Charlie is not interested anymore in typical ape food. He prefers human food such as chop suey or spaghetti. As befits a Marine he’ll even eat C-rations, though he tends to eat the food’s packaging too.

Charlie can formulate plans and come up with medium-term strategy. He’ll be sure to use his unique mobility (particularly climbing and brachiation ) to outmanoeuvre the enemy. Though he can use firearms, he prefers melee combat. In fact, he generally preferred not to kill.

DC Universe History

There’s nothing that prevents this whimsical story from having taken place in the DC Universe. ”Charlie” could actually be a tourist from Gorilla City who decided to enlist and fight along with the USMC after a fashion, albeit while still pretending to be a normal gorilla.

Or at least while conserving a bit of plausible deniability.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Charlie the gorilla

Dex: 05 Str: 05 Bod: 05 Motivation: Be a US Marine
Int: 04 Wil: 02 Min: 03 Occupation: Show ape
Inf: 03 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 012 HP: 030

Analytical smell/tracking scent: 03, Density Increase: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:
Density Increase is Always On, Adds to STR, and Already Factored In.

Acrobatics (Athletics, Climbing, Dodging): 06, Evasion (Ranged only): 06, Military science (Danger sense): 05, Thief (Locks and safes, stealth): 03, Weaponry (Firearms): 02

Prehensile Feet.


Strange Appearance.

Charlie wears an uniform, including a helmet.

Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Charlie the Gorilla — Averaged PL 6.2

04 03 04 00 03 -1 01 00


He’s a gorilla ● 8 points (Permanent) ● Descriptor: Physiology
– Senses 5 (Acute Extended Tracking smell ; Ranged Detect (Ambushes)).
– Feature 1 (Prehensile feet), Feature 1 (Much heavier that a human).
– Ape muscle — Protection 1 (Limited 2 to Blunt Impact).

Combat Advantages

Close attack 5, Defensive Roll 2, Evasion, Improved grab, Uncanny Dodge.

Other Advantages

None demonstrated.


Acrobatics 5 (+9), Athletics 5 (+9), Expertise (Marine) 1 (+0), Perception 3 (+4), Stealth 1 (+5), Technology 6 (+5) (Limited 3 to picking locks).


Initiative +4
Unarmed +8, Close, Damage 4
Firearms +1, Ranged, varies by type


Dodge 10 Fortitude 8
Parry 8 Toughness 5/3*
Will 2

* Without Defensive Roll


  • Prejudice Charlie is a gorilla.

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 6, Dodge/Toughness PL 8, Parry/Toughness PL 7, Fort & Will PL 5.
  • Point total 72. Abilities 28, Defences 18, Skills 8, Powers 8, Devices 0, Advantages 10. Equiv. PL 5.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Star-Spangled War Stories v1 #126.

Writeup completed on the 1st of April, 2011.