CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #48|
Summary written by Lou Mougin
"Twilight of the Challengers" (24 pages)
Guest stars: Challengers of the Unknown
This story continues between DOOM PATROL #101 and 102.
The Doom Patrol arrives at the Challengers' mountain headquarters and finds the four Challengers, Ace, Rocky, Prof, and Red, almost dead. Cliff, Larry, and Rita take the four fallen heroes back to Doom Patrol h.q. where The Chief puts them into suspended animation. He communicates with Ace via a special radio device that reaches the Challenger's brain. Ace explains that while they were tending to their captive arch-foes, the Challenger-Haters, on the latter's prison island, Rocky was attacked by an android "rabbit" created by Multi-Man, which cut off his arm's circulation and threatened to kill the arm. To save Rocky, Ace agreed to free Multi-Man, Kra, Drabny, and Volcano Man, in return for Multi-Man's destroying the android rabbit. Once the villains were free, Multi-Man complied. But he then loosed a flock of killer android rabbits on the Challengers, and the villainous band made their escape while the heroes lay near death. Prof rallied, found the container of powder Multi-Man used to destroy the first android, and used it to save himself and his teammates.
The Challengers then decided to feign death, in order to lull the Challenger-Haters into false security and tipping their hand. (In the meantime, Multi-Man repaired his giant female robot, Multi-Woman.) The four heroes later learned that transport ships were vanishing in the Pacific Ocean, carrying "enough raw materials and atomic fuel to build a small city!" Using diving suits and a submarine, the Challengers investigated and learned that Multi-Man and his allies were doing just that, creating a domed underwater city to serve as their home base.
The heroes battled the villains in the ocean's depths, but Multi-Man used his shape-shifting power to turn into a giant jellyfish and struck the four of them down with his stinger-tail. The Challs managed to get back to their submarine and escape plane, to reach Challenger Mountain, and to call the Doom Patrol before all of them collapsed, near death.
To save them, The Chief sends Robotman to the Challenger-Haters' undersea hideout. Cliff tricks Multi-Man into becoming a jellyfish again, lops off the tip of the villain's stinger with his metal hand, and brings it back to The Chief. An analysis is made, an antidote to the poison is found, and the Challengers are cured. The two teams unite and travel to the site of the Chall-Haters' undersea lair, following the villains to an alternate hideout on a nearby island. (Drabny, unknowing, returns to the ocean hideout and is killed by a booby-trap.) The Challs and Doom Patrol battle the Challenger-Haters and are on the verge of victory. But Multi-Man takes The Chief captive, and threatens to kill him unless he and his team are allowed to escape. Reluctantly, the heroes agree, and The Chief is released as Multi-Man and company make their getaway. Both the Challengers and the Doom Patrol resolve to bring their foes to justice.
An okay action story. The Challengers were never as good as the Doom Patrol, IMHO (although the Jack Kirby issues were really nice), but Drake was writing both books at the time and managed to pull this one off decently. Nice bits: Elasti-Girl's wrestling match with Multi-Woman, the killer rabbit androids, Rocky's bravely offering to have his arm amputated rather than free their foes, and the bickering between Rocky and Cliff (the strongmen of each team). Not-so-nice bits: the Challs TWICE being put in a similar near-death state; the killing of Drabny just to unstuff the villain team; and so many characters in the end bit that the whole thing is too rushed. But this was a memorable crossover, and, since it continues into the DP's own title, is probably the first cross-book continued story in DC Comics. (I'm probably wrong about that!)
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