Wednesday, October 01, 2008

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Challengers of the Unknown #65

Challengers of the Unknown #65 (On Sale: October 1, 1968) has a odd looking cover by Jack Sparling.

"The Devil's Circus" is by Robert Kanigher and Jack Sparling. The Challengers receive a cryptic message from a mental patient that was found wandering the highway. The message leads them to Cobra Canyon where a giant alien awaits. The alien from the planet of Dread captures the Challs and forces them to battle insect creatures in an alien circus. The team members survive their battles, then lead the alien into a pit of quicksand.

The back-up story, "The Freezing Sun," is a reprint of the Challengers of the Unknown origin story from Showcase #6 and is 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.

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