It’s strange how my comic book reading works in cycles. At one point I am mostly reading Marvel titles, but a few months later I will end up mostly reading DC titles. Then, some time later, I will have moved back to Marvel. Anyway, a bunch of interesting things have been happening at DC lately, and they have tempted me away from Marvel, for now. One of those interesting things that is happening is New Challengers.

New Challengers is about a group of four people with no superpowers who have been recruited to join:

A proud tradition of death-defying adventurers called The Challengers of the Unknown.

But it is not the heroes we are introduced to first. Instead we are introduced to an enigmatic and evil bad guy with a face encased entirely in bandages. He is ruthlessly searching for some ancient secret or other, and does some entertainingly bad things in his very first scene. It is only when he is about to achieve this goal, whatever it is, that the team of Challengers is even assembled.

A sinister looking professor uses a huge machine to snatch a bunch of people from the moment just after they have died. It is a confusing scene, intentionally I think, because the situation would be confusing and rushed for the people recruited to be Challengers. I’ve read some bad reviews for this comic from around the Internet, and I think choices like this might be behind them. I’m willing to go with it, though, especially if it shortens the introductions and speeds us to the action.


Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy

The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.



We only get one real introduction for the team, in a flashback to the events leading up to her death. The one we see is Trina Alvarez, who was a doctor before coming to Challenger’s Mountain. I imagine we will get the same flashback to the moment of death for the other members of the team in later issues. For now, I’m glad they only decided to do one of these this issue. One extended flashback is plenty for a single issue of a comic book.

This comic book is fun, pulpy stuff, but the storytelling is solid, and the team has good diversity. Another element of the story I like is the way they play with expectations. The example I’m thinking about is that one of the members of the team, Robert Brink, is a loose cannon who has issues with authority, wearing a leather jacket no less – just the usual relatable lunkhead that spoils a lot of pulp stories – and then the story kills him. I loved that. I mentally whooped with joy at such brave storytelling, especially because he was a white guy. Usually TV and comic books kill the black guy first, but not this story. It’s unsettling in a good way, because you start to think anything can happen. By the end of the issue, the team solidifies as: Trina Alvarez, Moses Barber, Bethany Hopkins, and Krunch, who must use their varied skills and experiences to delve into the world’s greatest mysteries. In the process, they may just have to save the universe.

It also has attractive art, though I’m not sure if that is because of the pencils or the inks, or maybe even the colors. Even when there isn’t much going on in a frame, it is still given a lot of dynamism with complex hatching of the shadows and shading of the colors to create very dramatic lighting. It looks to me like the inker and colorer are working hard to flatter the work of the penciler.


There are some great ideas here, such as the simple white cube of technology that the Challengers are delivered to their mission in. There is also the fact that they start to die for real if they are away from Challenger’s Mountain for too long. They have a tattoo on their arm that tracks the time passing as they rush to complete a mission. It’s all very strange and I love it.


In the first few moments of their first mission, they are attacked by a giant monster, which is great. I love giant monsters almost as much as giant robots. Any comic book with either giant monsters or giant robots automatically gets extra points from me. Obviously there are bonus points for comic books that feature both.

I particularly liked the enigmatic ending of the comic book. The professor is standing in a huge space, with an enormous skeleton in front of him, and some displays showing views of what look like different periods in time. The Challengers are in trouble, because of the giant crab thing, but the professor is unconcerned. The view of the giant skeleton is what I like best. It reminds me of the skeleton in Alien, a mythical dead thing, surrounded by secrets.

I have never read a Challengers of the Unknown comic book before, but I enjoyed this one immensely and it whetted my appetite to find out more. So I went to the Wikipedia page and started reading. It turns out they were invented by that prodigious creative talent, Jack Kirby. If I had known that, I might have started reading them before.

Beyond this little tidbit of information, there is a wild catalog of the group’s adventures reaching all the way back to the 50s. They have traveled in space, time, to other dimensions, and fought alongside almost every superhero from the DC roster. I also found out from Comicsverse.com that Challenger’s Mountain is, or at least was, right in the middle of Gotham City. Wild.

As the issue opens, four unlikely humans are transported into the heart of Challenger’s Mountain. This hub of super science first reappeared in the heart of Gotham City, destroying much of the city in the process. However, now it is under new management by a man named Prof.

I also discovered that New Challengers is part of DC’s New Age of Heroes. Interestingly, titles from this range are intended to be centered around the artist. The artist is promoted first, credited first, even above the writer. The New Age Of Heroes aims to add new corners and characters to the DC Universe, including brand new heroes and existing heroes with new roles. Also, none of the comics involved in this line will have variant covers. This is so the company can see the true demand for these new characters and ideas without the inflation of sales that variant covers produce.

All of this sounds like a good idea to me, and the only question I have is whether any of these titles will actually sell. I sure hope so, because I want to keep reading. My intuition tells me this comic book is going to be a wild ride, and I can’t wait for number two.

When I’m not reading comic books, I write my own sci-fi stories, and here comes an ad for one of them:


Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy

The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.