Why the Challengers of the Unknown Deserve to be Comic Book Superstars

All right, I admit it’s probably a bit strange: In the last week or so, I’ve put up two covers from Challengers of the Unknown, a relatively obscure series from the fifties & sixties. But let me tell you: The Challengers are pretty darn cool. My main introduction came in Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, and if you think they’re cool there, wait until you see their own adventures in Showcase Presents: Challengers of the Unknown. Lots and lots of crazy, sci-fi, superhero fun, like:

  • Professor Haley’s lightning-quick, wholly unscientific, deductions!
  • June Robbins’ in-your-face brand of feminism!
  • June Robbins apparently confusing computers with fortune cookies!
  • Rapid-fire acceptance of death, replacement, and rebirth!
  • Jack Kirby!
    (Don’t get me wrong: Challengers isn’t Kirby’s best work by a long shot. But every now and then he turns in a panel or a page that shows off his rapidly developing style and vision.)

And the real kicker? All these completely awesome and unbelievable moments come from the Challengers’ first two appearances, in Showcase Presents #6-7. And how can you not get excited for their third story, entitled The Day the Earth Blew Up!? (Spoiler: It doesn’t actually blow up.)