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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Super-Team Family 8 - Challengers of the Unknown begins

With Super-Team Family 8 (Dec/Jan 76/77) the Challengers of the Unknown begin a new series in this book. The Challengers had not been seen since the final issue of their own book, back in 1970. They have new uniforms in this tale, back to the old purple, but with a yellow stripe. As well, June Robbins, who had not been seen since 1965, is once again with the team, and even gets her own matching costume.

Steve Skeates, Jim Sherman and Jack Abel open this story with Henry Kissinger being flown back to the US after a diplomatic meeting dealing with Cold War tensions. His plane loses control over the Bermuda Triangle, and they wind up disappearing from radar, and landing on an island with ancient architecture.

President Gerald Ford makes a cameo, deciding that this is beyond the scope of the military, and calling in the Challengers of the Unknown. There is a page, evocative of the four way split page that Jack Kirby used a few times to introduce the members of the team. Ace Morgan is shown now as an astronaut, instead of a jet pilot, and Professor Haley is given a high tech submersible in his panel. Even Rocky Davis is shown fighting a robot, instead of just boxing. Only Red Ryan is portrayed much as he had been in the past. Somehow he got his eye back since his last outing.

The Challengers leave their mountain base in a brand new plane, very sci fi looking, but as they fly to the Triangle it goes out of control as well. This allows them a couple of panels to recall how they first came together, surviving a plane crash. They land on the same island, and are confronted by men riding triceratops. These dinosaurs are able to emit powerful vibrations from their horns. This is what causes the planes and boats to crash. It also makes the island invisible, to vision and radar, and provides immortality to the people who live there.

The Challengers are taken prisoner along with Kissinger. Those who land on the island are given the option of joining the people, from different times, who live there, or being killed. The Challengers decide to do neither, and fight their way to freedom. It's their good fortune that June was monitoring their flight with instruments that are apparently better than those of the US air force. She sails a boat to the island, but doesn't actually do an awful lot to help them.

The team load up themselves, June, and Kissinger onto their plane, which now proves powerful enough to break through the vibratory field and return to the US.

This story did very little for me as a kid, but I loved the issue anyway, because of the Doom Patrol back-up.

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