Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Decent Comics: "The Devil's Paradise" by Skeates, Sherman, and Abel

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! Today we're gonna check out the all-too-short-lived late Groovy Age Challengers of the Unknown revival that began in Super-Team Family #8 (September 1976)! The Challs were a successful Bronze Age team of non-powered heroes created by Jack Kirby way back in 1956, whose mag lasted until the 1971. In 1976, under the new publisher Jenette Kahn's administration, DC's reprint mags (like STF, along with Superman Family and Batman Family) were shifting to all-new material, so author Steve Skeates was tapped to write the Challs, newcomer James Sherman (who would later claim fame on The Legion of Super-Heroes) was hired to pencil it, and Jack Abel inked it. Evidently, Skeates, Sherman, and Abel were doing so well with the feature that it moved out of STF with ish #10 (January 1977) to graduate to their own revived title (Challengers of the Unknown #81-87, March 1977-March 1978). The weird thing is, when the Challs got their mag back, Skeates, Sherman, and Abel weren't invited. Ol' Groove "talked" to Steve Skeates about the Challs via FaceBook a while back about it, and he didn't really know why he wasn't asked to write the revived Challs mag, but suspects that the plan was to have writer/editor Gerry Conway helm the mag all along.
Cover art by Rich Buckler and Jack Abel

But that's all a ways off. Right now, let's just dig the fun, far-out, and downright wild story Mr. Skeates concocted (with assistance from editor Tony Isabella who encouraged Skeates to feature real-life newsmakers President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger). While Abel's inks are too overpowering for Ol' Groove's tastes, there is no denying that Sherman's layouts and figurework are cool and dynamic to the extreme! Whaddya say yers trooley stifles himself and we truck on into the Bermuda Triangle with Ace, Red, Rocky, Prof, and June to visit..."The Devil's Paradise!"


  1. Fun story, but I agree, not crazy about the ink job.

    1. Jack Abel totally smothered Mr. Sherman's beautiful pencil work. Fortunately we got to see him on the Legion, artfully embellished by Rubinstein, McLeod and Wiacek. He also inked himself to great effect on his issues of The Fly that Red Circle put out in the 80s.

  2. Just a note opening this sight up is so enjoyable, takes me back to my spinner rack days discovering these stories at the newsstands, thanks so much for your work bringing these lost gems back via the web!!!

  3. Er, well... not sure I really buy the idealist sentiments at the end from Kissinger. C'mon - this was the guy doing secret State Dept deals with Latveria!
    (Marvel Super Villain Team Up featuring Dr Doom and Henry Kissinger - remember that?)




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