First Published: April 2008
Contents: Challengers of the Unknown #18 (February-March 1961) to #37 (April-May 1964)
Key Creator Credits: Bob Brown, Arnold Drake, Ed Herron, and others
Key First Appearances: Cosmo
Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Challengers of the Unknown Vol. 1
Overview: A plane crash brings four men together when they realize that they cheated death by walking away from the wreckage. Rocky Davis (Olympic wrestling champion), Prof Haley (master skin diver), Red Ryan (circus daredevil), and Ace Morgan (fearless jet pilot) team-up to form the Challengers of the Unknown and their adventures continue in this second Showcase Presents volume.
Once again, the book follows a predictable formula from issue to issue. Most issues featured two stories – one with honorary Challenger June Robbins and one without June. Whether it was aliens from space, creatures from the Earth, or killer robots from laboratories, the Challengers stood up to anything thrown their way.
Only one new character is introduced in this volume, as the Challengers come across an alien animal that they adopt as a pet. Named Cosmo since he came from the stars, Cosmo would make the occasional appearance, including in one issue where his rightful owner came to Earth looking for his pet.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: I really want to like this book, but I just can’t. The creators had a story formula and stuck with it issue after issue after issue. The Challengers face off against threats from outer space, giant robots attacking the city, and the return of Multi-Man every four or five issues, and the story locations would just happen to require the use of their special skills. Come on, truthfully, how many stories can involve both skin-diving in the ocean AND climbing mountains? Even though the guys are living on borrowed time, at no point do we ever feel like the guys will not survive the latest adventure. It pains me to write this, but I think this is a volume that does not need to be on your bookshelf. I wish DC could skip ahead to the issues where the Challengers start interacting with other members of the DC Universe.
The full review can be found at EssentialShowcase.com.
To find the original issues, or reprints, of Challengers of the Unknown, check with your local comic book store. In the Midwest, I strongly recommend Clint’s Comics in midtown Kansas City. Clint’s has been in business for nearly 50 years at the intersection of Main St. and Westport Rd. The back-issue selection is incredible, and what you see in the store is just a small fraction of their total inventory. In addition to the back issues, Clint’s stocks current issues, trade paperbacks, toys, T-shirts, and more. Check out Clint’s Comics to build your own essential collection!