Bargain Comic Reviews

New Reviews of Old Comics

Challengers of the Unknown (Jan., 1977)

Purchase price: $1

My understanding is Challengers of the Unknown is a team that dates back to the 50s, though I haven’t read any of those and obviously this isn’t one of those issues.  Apart from that little tidbit this issue represents the totality of my knowledge about the Challengers.  When I saw this beat-to-hell issue in a pile of other overpriced beat-to-hell comics I found it hard to pass up for a buck despite its condition.  Between Swamp Thing and Deadman this had the potential to be a good one.

“To Save a Monster” was written by Gerry Conway with Keith Giffen manning the pencils.  The splash page is rather gruesome with one of the Challengers carrying a teammate who appears to be melting in his arms. Swamp Thing makes an appearance, as does Deadman who tries to posses Swamp Thing, but fails so he moves on and tries to help the melting professor who was also being possessed by something only Deadman could fight off.  I know I really missed something vital to this story because the healthy Challengers are focused on catching up with Dr. Alec Holland and helping his Swamp Thing persona.  Eventually they all converge together with Deadman helping to free a possessed Swamp Thing and taking care of an evil doctor all at the same time.

While I won’t say this was a bad read, I would have enjoyed it more if I knew a little more about the overall Challengers concept and read some of their other adventures, the previous issue for example. Of course that isn’t something I can fault the creative team for; 84 issues into a series and you should be able to assume readers have a general idea of what is going on. I always like anything with Deadman, so that really helps and I’m glad the Challengers weren’t able to “fix” Alec Holland from being Swamp Thing, because if they did then Alan Moore wouldn’t have been able to write all of those fantastic stories in the 80s.

I can’t say I was blown away by this comic, but I wasn’t turned off by it either where I would avoid buying another issue.  To the contrary I was intrigued enough that I would love to find a few other issues and get a better idea of what is happening with this team.


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