Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Challengers of the Unknown #76

Challengers of the Unknown #76 (On Sale: August 4, 1970) has a nice cover by Joe Kubert.

It is sort of a shame that this month begins with a reprint book, as DC was really on the move in August 1970. This month there are three new strips starting and one completely revamped strip that will shock a lot of fans, some in a good way, some in a not so good way.

The thing about reprints is that sometimes they are more than just a cheap way to make comics, sometimes they are signposts to things to come. Two months ago, DC published All-Star Western #1, a book of Pow-Wow Smith reprints, but that book was a signpost of what was to come, starting this month, ASW #1 was more than what met the eye.

Challengers of the Unknown #76 is the same way. It says something more than we would like to publish the Challs but we don't want to pay for new material just now. It says, "Hey, you know that guy at Marvel who created Captain America, the Black Panther, the Avengers, Thor, The Silver Surfer, the Inhumans and the X-Men?, Yeah, he used to work for DC too." Why that is important would be become evident later in the month.

The word from on high is...the Great One is Coming!

We start off with  "The Traitorous Challenger" a 10-page story reprinted from Challengers of the Unknown #2. It is written and drawn by Jack Kirby and inked by Wally Wood.The Challengers’ head to Australia in pursuit of a creature responsible for destroying a village. June Robbins arrives to inform the Challs of a more important assignment in Washington. The Challs do not want to leave Australia without their man, uh...creature, so decide to stay.

June begins sabotaging their attempts to reach the monster inside a cave. The Challs quickly realize June is responsible for the sabotage and force her to explain. June tells them that a computer has predicted the Challengers will die on this mission and she is trying to save their lives.

Despite June’s warning, the Challs continue on the mission. The monster strikes at them and they are easily overpowered. Prof gets an idea, and they trick the monster into chasing them. The sun sets and the monster suddenly grows weak. It tries to make it back to its grotto, but the Challs have lured it too far away. The creature subsisted on sunlight and without it the creature could only survive off the energy in the volcanic grotto. They conclude that June’s warning slowed the Challengers efforts enough to make it until sunset, or they would indeed have died.

In "The Secret of the Sorcerer's Mirror," a 12-page reprint from  Challengers of the Unknown #3, Hillary Mycroft steals a mirror from a museum exhibit. The mirror once belonged to the sorcerer Kregon and can be used to reveal ancient secrets. The Challengers pursue Mycroft and recover the mirror, but not before the criminal has used it. The Challs use the mirror themselves to discover where Mycroft has gone.

Red and Prof split up from the others to track down some of Mycroft's men. The crooks recover hidden treasures despite the efforts of the Challs. Ace and Rocky follow Mycroft, but they too fail to stop him from recovering the last treasure. When combined, the treasures will give Mycroft control over a giant being, but Red has damaged one of the pieces so it fails to work. The Challs then apprehend Mycroft and his men. Like the first story this too was written and drawn by Jack Kirby and inked by Wally Wood.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

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