As we are about to embark one the next box of my unread comics, I would like to thank all of you who come to read and/or comment on these threads. When I first started this project back in July 2006  (really?) on the old board I never thought I would even make it through the first box. The threads have helped keep me semi-honest here.

I'm pretty excited about this upcoming box. It is a very eclectic mix of comics. There are a bunch of my old standbys. Like Legion comics, Daredevil, Marvel Team-up, war comics. There is a ton of other stuff like '80s black and white comics, some Kirby, a touch of Vertigo. I don't know how much will inspire me to write about, and if it does others to comment, but I am looking forward to it.

I'm really stoked to have you with me. Let's get it on!

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"Wait a minute! How can the Challengers afford to have a whole mountain carved out and modified for their HQ?  How do they support themselves?"

                                         --- Kirk G

 

"How do the Challengers support themselves? The answer is---unknown."

                                         --- Robin Olsen

 

 

Not so unknown, fellows.

 

As was explained in the letter column of Challengers of the Unknown # 52 (Oct.-Nov., 1966), the money used to establish the Challs’ operations, including their mountain HQ, and to furnish their living expenses came from Prof Haley’s inherited millions.

 

There is a bit of a question as to just whom Prof inherited the millions from.

 

Much of the story “The Man Who Saved the Challengers’ Lives”, from Challs # 31 (Apr.-May, 1965), consists of flashbacks to moments in the individual Challengers’ lives shortly before they took that fateful flight that led to them becoming the Challengers. In one of these flashbacks, Prof mentions having inherited a fortune from his Uncle Cyrus.

 

However, in the tale “None Shall Escape the Walking Evil”, from Challs # 63 (Aug.-Sep., 1968)–-after Red’s younger brother, Tino Manarry, is blinded by a mystic gem during the Challs’ battle with Tukamenon, a living mummy–-Prof offers the eye surgeon a blank cheque, telling him to fill in whatever amount he wants. Here, Prof says that he inherited his fortune from his father.

 

This was the way the Silver Age left it. Then some fifteen years later, the Challengers story “Yesterday’s Clues” (part 3), appeared in Adventure Comics # 495 (Jan., 1983). This tale, too, was a flashback to the Challs’ early days–-in this case, covering the plane crash and the events immediately subsequent to that. Here, again, it is stated that Prof inherited his millions from his Uncle Cyrus, and later events in the story leave little wiggle room to dispute that.

 

Hope this helps.

I remember that Prof Haley squandered invested his millions into the Challengers, though how the capital got replenished is a bigger mystery!

And here's another: When did Prof go from being a "master skin-diver" to an all-around genius?

Philip Portelli said:

I remember that Prof Haley squandered invested his millions into the Challengers, though how the capital got replenished is a bigger mystery.

 

Haley must have been sitting on a fortune huge enough to make Bill Gates look like a piker. Not only did Prof finance the original Challengers' mountain headquarters, he footed the bill for another one, after the first was destroyed in Challengers of the Unknown # 50 (Jun.-Jul., 1966).

 

Never explained was why the team didn't keep using the undersea HQ they inherited from Scientist X, in Challs # 53 (Dec., 1966-Jan., 1967) and occupied for at least a year.

 

 

Philip Portelli said:

And here's another: When did Prof go from being a "master skin-diver" to an all-around genius?

 

Just when Prof graduated to a full-fledged egghead is difficult to pinpoint.  I know his scientific expertise increased to include chemistry in the first Multi-Man story, from Challs # 24 (Feb.-Mar., 1962), when he concocted the antidote to Multi-Man's "liquid light" formula.

 

It was all part of the gradual "ability creep" that took place in all of the Challengers.  Initially, Prof was a "master skin-diver"; Red, a "circus daredevil"; Rocky, an "Olympic wrestling champion"; and Ace, a "fearless jet pilot".  Over time, the writers found those specialties too compartmentalised and subtly expanded them.  Actually, this reïmaging began even before Jack Kirby left the series, when he added "expert mountain climber" to Red Ryan's skill-set.

 

Later writers, such as France Herron, continued this trend, honing, tweaking, and sometimes outright adding to the individual Challengers' talents, as the scripts required.  Prof evolved into a scientist factotum.  Rocky's abilities branched out to include champion-level boxing and weight-lifting.  And Red acquired the additional distinction of being an expert in electronics.

 

In Ace Morgan's case, while his aviation skills were never so much modified, his character was further delineated by emphasising his leadership, although he didn't become the Challs' leader officially until issue # 46 (Oct.-Nov., 1965).

 

Hope this helps.

Thanks, Commander! It certainly does. You must really be a big Challengers fan!

The extra talents and skills greatly expanded the storytelling and got rid of having to go underwater, climb a mountain and wrestle something EVERY issue!

Too bad they never linked Prof to the Sea Devils or Aquaman.

Heh, I never knew Prof was just a "master skin diver", my Challengers reading is pretty sparse.

That was Pre-DCnU, Robin. The DCnU Challengers showed up in DC Universe Presents #6-8 (Ap-Ju'12) with the focus on June Robbins. It had great Jerry Ordway artwork.

Now, Post-Crisis, the Challengers predated the super-heroes which worked for me. Future prestige team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale "killed" Walter, turned Kyle into a mystic, had Matthew go vigilante and Leslie hit rock bottom before finding his inner peace.

Oh, sorry, I meant Prof, Ace, Red and Rocky, respectively from Challengers of the Unknown #1-8 (Ma-O'91). Not a bad series but longtime Chall-fans must have hated it!

Robin,  Something nasty happened to one of the Challs...I think it was Prof... but I can't discuss it without giving away a spoiler...and it was the basis of one of the later Action Comics with Superman.  As I recall, it's an additional interlude that takes place immediately after the Challs arrest the villian with the box of many dooms (a Kirby drawn adventure from their first few adventures).  As I recall, the fat round little villian (calls to mind the Penguin, but isn't) makes a break for it and crash-lands in current day, and runs for the hills.  Supes happens to be there, and assists the Challs make the recapture.  But because of continuity issues and not wanting to viloate the NoSpoilers rulle and destroy the space-time continum, he keeps his mouth shut about their future.  It ends on a bittersweet note. (I think this issue is drawn by John Byrne.)

Robin Olsen said:

Last time I looked, Rocky was some kinda preist or something (in the Keith Geffen Doom Patrol series). Did the Challengers break up or something when I wasn't looking?

 

The Flash #56
Nov. 1991
Cover art by: Greg LaRocque & Jose Marzan Jr.


Story: Murder on Ice!
Writer: William Messner-Loebs
Pencils: Greg La Rocque
Inks: Jose Marzan Jr.


The Flash is going to the reading of the will for the old villain, Icicle. He takes a group with him: Pied Piper, his accountant....good ol' whatshisname, and Mason Trollbridge a dude who gives Wally some advice and help along the way. The Icicle's family isn't to happy about Wally being invited to the reading, but just wait until the will is read.

It is a video will since Dr. Joar Mahkent (Icicle) was a big fan of technology. He leaves half of his money to the Flash, and the other half to be divided amongst his family. He ends the will laughing and hoping his family end up killing each other, so the Flash will get it all. There is a lot of animosity amongst everyone gathered, and they must all spend the night together in the mansion since they are snowed in.

That night Wally hears a scream, and finds one of the heirs frozen in a block of ice. He saves her from freezing to death. They then decide to check on the others, and the discover one of the other family members dead with ice shafts running through his body. Piper is that window, but runs when he sees them. Wally immediately dismisses the idea that Piper is the killer, since he could have killed him many ways with sound. Suddenly, the ghost of Icicle shoots Wally.

This is one of the few times I really regret not having the whole story. I even looked for the later issues at my LCS a couple of times now. Really well, done and I want to see how it ends.

The Icicle's will was the most interesting part of the comic. He leaves his will to “whoever wears the Flash's cowl.”  He always liked that Jay treated him decent, and Barry was nice as well. I also liked how he acknowledged that he made more money going straight than he did, or would have as a criminal. He had built up an empire producing computer parts. He also seems to be mentioning Crisis. About how the universe is dying and such.

The art team of La Rocque and Marzan were top notch. I really liked it a bunch. The cover of Flash in the sno-globe may have been predictable, but it is well done.

Very cool cover.

The Icicle died during Crisis on Infinite Earths along side the Mirror Master and Maaldor the Darklord.

I remember this story somewhat. I thought it odd that he would leave his fortune to any Flash when the Icicle was the Golden Age Green Lantern's foe. Also there was the debut of a new heroic Icicle but nothing was done with her! IIRC.

The Flash Annual #2

1988

Cover art by: Mike Collins & George Perez

Story: The Old Detective Dodge

Writer: William Messner-Loebs

Pencils: Mike Collins

Inks: Tom Poston

Wally's father has re-entered he and his mom's life. It causes her distress, since he tried to kill her when the Manhunters tried to take over the world. Some people just really hold a grudge I guess.

Rudy West has gotten his private detective license, and he has been hired to protect an old building for the night from brick thieves. Wally helps him out, and there is a bit of bonding between the two. They also rehash the old “kill his mother” bit, and “trying to take over the world”. Not all dads can be Jim Anderson I guess. Well they both fall asleep during the night and the thieves strike. The genius crooks take the bricks from the bottom first and the building collapses on them. Mr. West can't believe that Wally would save them.

Later, Rudy gets another job to track down a missing “daughter” who ran away with her boyfriend. Well it is all a crock, the pair were running a shakedown. They had stolen a briefcase full of dust jackets. They were holding them hostage, as half of a books worth are in those covers. The “daughter” and her kids accompany Wally and Rudy back to Wally and Ms. West's place. They are ambushed, but Wally uses his super speed to stop all of the bullets, he does have to remove one that had already gone into his dad's shoulder. He then captures the attackers.

Mr. West gets a job at a big PI firm in Gotham and makes tracks.

This was really a nifty issue, and I really loved the dialogue that Messner-Loebs wrote. Mostly from from Wally's dad. Like:

“It's that whole drowning thing right? Women never forget stuff like that!”

and

“The only sin is being a vampire, son, and living off other people...”

How did Mr. West get his license? Apparently the Manhunters still have friends in high places and they helped him out. The best visual was Rudy West sitting on a broken down car, and then him morphing into a king, who was promised this little slice of the galaxy to rule by the Manhunters.

The Geek #1

June 1993

Cover art by: Mike Allred

Story: Homelands of the Dolls

Writer: Rachel Pollack

Art: Mike Allred

I snagged this comic out of my LCS' 50 cent box, because I was interested in the early Mike Allred art. It is intriguing to see it, as it isn't quite a polished as it later becomes, yet you can definitely see his style. It also has a bit of Jaime Hernandez in it as well. His wife was the colorist here, so I imagine she colors just about all of his work.

Basically what we have here is a guy named Mr. Cull who is trying to destroy the land of the dolls. Brother Power (the titled Geek) is the gateway to that homeworld. Cull has been trying for years to get it open. He also currently runs a circus, with Brother Power performing as the geek. There are a number of flashbacks that shows us what Brother Power has been doing since his original appearance. Being influenced by Cull the entire time.

He was a corporate raider for a little while, and that scene was probably my favorite. With a yuppie Brother Power just spouting off '80s cliches, and enjoying the fruits of his labor. He is also part of a white power movement, and I think they kind of chickened out by using pseudo-swastikas. It would have been more powerful, if they had used the real thing.

Mr. Cull is able to get Brother Power to open up, when he captures a former hooker, and current nude dancer that Brother Power always liked. She liked him as well as “[he] was the only man who didn't make her afraid.” Cull is going to make the girl, Cindy, his new star attraction as the lady with a thousand scars. Each cut he makes on her opens up her own memory, as well as a memory of the history of her “people”...whores. Brother Power does make the save with a little bit of trickeration.

This is an okay comic, but not a must read at all. I don't remember if this is the first time a Vertigo comic has appeared in these threads, but it certainly is a rarity.

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