Challengers of the Unknown #76 [1970]


Two reprints from 1958 in this issue, both Kirby inked by Marvin Stein, although the newly added credits list Wallace Wood as the inker.

CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #2 is the source for the 10-page “The Traitorous Challenger”. The Challs are investigating a strange creature spotting in Australia when “honorary member” June Walker arrives and tries to get them to abandon the mission. When they refuse, she attempts to sabotage their equipment, but Prof sees through her “accidents” and she reveals that a super-computer told her that a Challenger would die on this mission, based on all known information.


They continue to battle the creature, which is a very weird cubic beast with a dinosaur-like texture, two legs and a stalk with one “eye” that pulses with energy. Prof realizes that it must be getting energy from the sun in the day and a volcanic source during the night, so if they can draw it away from the volcanic source when night falls it’ll be defeated. Seems logical. It works, and they also decide that June’s actions prevented them from following their original plans, which would have resulted in a Challenger dying, making her a heroine. Seems a bit condescending, but she seems quite proud of that in the final panel.

Next up is the 12-page “The Secret of the Sorcerer’s Mirror” from CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #3. Master thief Hillary Mycroft steals an ancient mirror which holds the secret locations of three objects which promise great power. The Challengers split up to pursue his men on the search, Prof on the undersea piece, Red on the mountaintop and the others to an island. Along the way each team is saved by a mysterious being, but manages to lose the piece, which explodes when Mycroft tries to put it together because Red removed part of his piece. Yeah, seemed like an odd ending to me, too. A lot of the half-issue CotU stories tend to be unsatisfying, with quick endings, though with a lot of interesting visuals along the way. The full-issue stories work better, but unfortunately full-issue stories were very much the exception at DC at the time (except for the CotU stories that were full issue, did DC do any other full-issue stories in the 1957-1959 era? The major “exciting three-part novel” era of Superman came a bit later, right?).

The last page of each story has a “Kirby is Coming” banner across the bottom, and the letter page in this issue goes into the source of these stories a bit, and plugs Kirby’s return to DC (in JIMMY OLSEN and other then-unnamed books). However, it also incorrectly credits Wood with the inks.

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