There’s a fine line sometimes between stupid and amazing. Super Team Family number 8 from 1976, lands squarely in amazing, especially the feature story starring The Challengers of the Unknown. This story and this team harken back to the pulp action heroes, before the days of Superman and super powers. The team is made up of four action men–a wrestling champ, a hunky scientist, a fearless pilot, and a circus acrobat. Any of these jobs could have made my top ten coolest professions when I was a kid. Heck, they still would. As the team is introduced, we see them investigating Sasquatch and the gill-man and such.
Their mission in this story though is based a bit more in reality. Henry Kissinger, on his way to some very important peace talks, is lost in the Bermuda Triangle. President Ford has no choice but to call out The Challengers. They take their sweet new high-tech plane into the triangle while their sexy girl assistant monitors them from their yacht. The team is immediately sucked through the same rift in time and space that caught Kissinger. They crash land on an island that is inhabited by men from a variety of times and places (I noticed there were no women on the island. Hmmm.). There are Vikings, Mongol Huns, ancient Greeks, and soldiers from the 20th century. I think the idea is that over the centuries these guys all got taken through the mysterious rift. What the Vikings and Mongols were doing in the Caribbean I have no idea. Anyway, the Challengers are immediately attacked by the guys who are ridding, get this, triceratops with sonic powers. The Challengers are nearly able to defend themselves, but the dinosaurs use their powers to knock everyone out.
The Challengers wake up in a cell with Kissinger. They are about to be taken before the judge where they will be given the option of agreeing to never leave the island or to accept the death penalty. Wrestling champ Rocky Davis tells the judge, “We choose to escape . . . even if it is against you’re stupid rules!” Sweet. Unfortunately, they are overpowered and thrown back in jail. Fortunately The Challengers aren’t just adequate fighters, the are smart as well. Using the supplies they had hidden in their boot heels and belts they build an electric jail door opener. They then escape to their plane where they put together a device to counter act the triceratops’ sonic powers. In the process they see that their girl has driven the boat through the rift. A plan is devised. One of them makes his way to the boat (not the girl) while the rest, including Kissinger, fight their way to the plane past the paranoid island dwellers.
Cuz you know, when have white American men ever given native peoples anything to worry about.
There are a number of fun fights in this story. The Challengers may not win every fist fight they’re in, but that doesn’t stop them from using their fists when they have to.
Meanwhile, the boat horn is used to simulate the triceratops’ mating call, drawing them into the sea.
Apparently the mating call is a giant fart. Don’t ask why they didn’t all just go to the plane and fly away; these guys are scientists and know what they’re doing. As the fastest swimming dinosaur begins to make sweet love to The Challenger’s boat, the last Challenger is whisked away in the plane.
Yeah. That dinosaur is doing that. To a boat. Sorry.
In the end, the challengers rescue Kissinger, who, as they fly away tries to say something poignant about the island men working together and if only the people of the world could do that, yada yada yada. Meanwhile The Challengers are thinking, yeah then we’d kick the people of the world’s ass just like we did those islanders.
The other story in this book stars The Doom Patrol and is a reprint from 1964. This story also stands firmly on the amazing side of stupid. The Doom Patrol is made up of a metal man, a shrinking/growing woman, a radioactive man, and the chief, a genius in a wheelchair who runs the show. Those are all cool powers, even if the chief is a little overused nowadays.
The Doom Patrol is fighting The Brotherhood of Evil (communists), led my an evil little person. Their plan is to use a ray that grows small things into large things to make war toys into full sized tanks and robot soldiers. Amazing. It’s a cool and corny story.
My problem with team books is they can get too soap-opera-y. That happens a little bit in Doom Patrol. I get it. You tend to develop feelings for people you spend a Iot of time with, but if I wanted a romance comic, I’d read one. However, for the most part, these teams are about kicking butt, and keeping America in control of the world. Two uppercuts to the jaw, up.