Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Challengers Of The Unknown!


We all live on borrowed time. The Challengers of the Unknown just realize it every day of their lives.

That's the rather exquisite premise of Jack Kirby's original adventure quartet created for DC Comics three years before he co-created a similar team for Marvel. The Challengers are Ace Morgan, Red Ryan, Rocky Davis and Prof Haley, four men of various talents who survive a plane crash and decide to dedicate the remainder of their limited days to doing good for mankind, but in the most adventurous way possible.

The team debuted in Showcase in the winter of 1957 (so it turns out the Challs and I are the same age) and after four very successful sprawling adventures jumped into their own series in 1958. Jack Kirby did the art on the first twelve issues (counting the four Showcase installments) and then because of editorial interference walked away from his creation. The series though ran for the balance of the Silver Age but sputtered out at the beginning  the Bronze.


Yesterday wanting to do something special with some accumulated store credits, I picked up the exceedingly handsome volume Challengers of the Unknown by Jack Kirby. This tome collects together for the first time in color the dozen issues by Kirby. I've bought these issues here and there in reprints over the decades, but never before in one collection in color. They are simply smashing examples of high-octane vintage comic book excitement, filled with dashing deeds and wild and outlandish threats and menaces.

The pulp roots of the Challengers are evident, regular men possessed of only their brains and brawn take on the world and all its mysteries, a cocktail of adventure which should excite anyone. It sure does me, and I'm eager to dive into these stories, a nice break from some pretty heavy lost world adventures I've been reading lately.

Here are the awesome covers of the comics included in this volume.













All these adventures and more are gathered in 2006's Showcase Challengers of the Unknown volume. This was followed by one more which gathered around half of the total series. DC needs to finish this series and give the fans a nifty highly readable set of adventures from its past.


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3 comments:

  1. "This tome collects together for the first time in color the dozen issues by Kirby."

    Collected together for the first time in color in ONE volume. DC previously collected all 12 Kirby issues in Challengers of the Unknown Archives vols. 1-2.

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    1. Valid correction. That's what I meant to say.

      Thanks Scott.

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  2. I have the Challengers Showcase edition too and it's a delight. Even the non-Kirby stories can be good even if they have a different feel to them.

    I've read that the second edition features one part of a two part story where the Challengers meet the Doom Patrol. I have the Doom Patrol Showcase which has the DP story, and Arnold Drake really delighted in showing Robotman butting heads with Rocky Davis. It was a bit of a shock, especially since the Challengers are amazingly polite with each other.

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