Sunday, June 4, 2023

A Colossal Collection Of Kirby Classics!

Jack Kirby's career is a storied one for certain. But a constant is that he often leaves projects which have a vibrant life after him, some potency in the concepts he gave life to finding a lasting audience. Certainly that was the case with the Challengers of the Unknown. Kirby worked on the comic for only three years or thereabouts, but his stories have been made available to generations of new readers thanks to many reprints in many different venues. For me it was that incredible one-shot installment of Super DC Giant sporting a new Kirby-Colletta cover which introduced me to the team. But that was far from the only time. Here are the reprints I'm aware of which have landed on the shelves over the intervening years. Please let me know of others I have overlooked.

We get a mere glimpse of the Challs in the epic debut Secret Origins giant issue. 

Toward the end of the original Challengers run, the final three issues were reprints of some of those Kirby classics. Some of the Kirby's original art is reworked on a few issues, one with the assistance of George Tuska and Joe Kubert steps in for a single cover. 

A few years later in 1973 a reprint run was added on to perhaps test the waters for a revival. These issues were treated with some creamy Nick Cardy covers. 

Many years later the trade reprint becomes more and more viable and collections are offered which include the Challengers among other vintage DC stars. Joe Kubert's cover for the 1950's collection is especially sweet. The Challs alas are hidden in the background of this one. They do better on the Showcase reprint volume. 

DC then offers up quality archives for the vintage tales of the team. Handsome in the trade dress that DC used for the archive program. 

For the price conscious, there's the first volume of the Showcase Presents tome featuring the Kirby stories yet again. The second volume is sadly bereft of Kirby work but does feature some dandy Bob Brown art. 

A handsome reprint, and possibly my favorite is hardcover done in the omnibus style which all of Kirby's DC work received some years ago. 

It's easy to overlook the Challs in the Showcase Presents Showcase volume as well, though they are not cover featured. 

Most recent is the paperback version of the Kirby tales, a rock solid collection which features some of the brightest color of any of the collections. In whatever format you find them, the expensive originals or any of the reprints, they always deliver. 

NOTE: This is a Dojo Revised Classic Post. 

Rip Off


  1. The Super DC Giant was the first time I encountered The Challengers as well, RJ (that I remember anyway), and I bought a replacement issue for my original sometime in the early '80s. I also have the two hardback Archive editions, plus the single softcover volume from a few short years back (or so it seems). I also have one of the '70s reprint issues - or maybe it's two, I forget. The Wood inked tales are the best looking strips of the lot.

    1. Both Kirby and Wood were ideal for one another at the time. Later Wood's heavy inks might've been less effective. (See the FF issues with Daredevil I think.)