Friday, August 1, 2008

Challengers of the Unknown #64

Challengers of the Unknown #64 (On Sale: August 1, 1968) has a cover by Joe Kubert that I have always loved.

"Invitation to a Hanging" is by Robert Kanigher and Jack Sparling. The Challengers are invited to the execution of three criminals who vow to seek revenge from the grave. After the convicts are killed, the judge and district attorney who convicted them are killed by their apparent ghosts. The Challengers investigate and discover the grave of their boss Doc Hemlock is empty.

The Challengers are captured and taken to Hemlock's hideout. The crook is actually still alive and is using robot duplicates of the executed convicts to exact his revenge.

The back up story is the origin of the Challengers, "The Secrets of the Sorcerer's Box," a reprint from Showcase #6 by Dave Wood and Jack Kirby. Four men, Rocky Davis, Ace Morgan, Red Ryan, and Prof. Haley are scheduled to appear on the television show "Heroes". Ace is piloting the plane carrying the men to the show. The plane runs into poor weather, causing it to crash. The men miraculously survive. Red’s watch which should have been destroyed works perfectly, causing Ace to suppose the men are living on "borrowed time". At Prof’s suggestion, the men band together to take more risk as the Challengers of the Unknown.

A request for the daredevil services comes in from Morelian, an alleged descendant of Merlin. His assignment for the Challs is to open a mystic box that has four segments.

On a deserted island, Rocky opens the first compartment. Inside is a giant egg which hatches overnight into a giant humanoid creature. The creature walks across the ocean destroying ships and taking Red in the process. Ace and Prof. pursue the monster which eventually drops Red. Prof. eventually figures that the monster is composed of pure thought and wishes the creature away.

Red is returned to the island where Rocky has opened the second segment of the box. A freezing sun is inside which draws the heat from everything, freezing Rocky. Red manages to trap the sun in a vacuum sealed container.

Ace and Prof. return to the island, and Ace opens the third segment. A device which spins a web of plastic flies out at tremendous speed. The Challs follow the device to Australia, eventually gaining control over it with the container it was originally contained in.

When the Challs return to the island, Morelian has opened the final section of the box. Inside is a ring which supposedly gives him immortality. He flies off in his plane, but quickly crashes down upon the box. The box has what contained the immortality not the ring, which was sudden death.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

1 comment:

Steve Pick said...

At that point, I hadn't bought an issue of Challengers in about six months, but that cover definitely nabbed my attention the moment I saw it. Nobody could beat Kubert at drawing superheroes stunned by the grip of defeat.