Challengers of the Unknown Archives Volume 2: written by Jack Kirby, Ed Herron, and others; illustrated by Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, Roz Kirby, and others (1958-59; collected 2004): Jack Kirby’s early run on DC’s first Silver-Age superhero team concludes here, as a falling-out with series editor Jack Schiff sent Kirby to (not-yet) Marvel, where he’d soon help create the Marvel Age of Comics.

The Challengers, non-powered adventurers, take on a wide variety of supernatural and super-scientific menaces here. They’re abducted by aliens, develop powers of their own, and have to deal with various supernatural menaces unearthed and unleashed upon the world. It’s a lot of fun, and a template Kirby’s Fantastic Four would soon be following over at Marvel. Heroes vs. giant monsters = awesome.

Legendary comics artist Wally Wood supplies some of the inks over Kirby’s pencils, and the results are spectacular — Wood is one of the two or three best inkers Kirby ever had, and it’s a shame they didn’t get to work together more often. It’s beautiful stuff. Recommended.

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