If you're a comic book enthusiast I'm not telling you anything new when I say the Silver Age's original "fantastic four" came from DC and not Marvel. Though both were co-created by Jack Kirby. Appearing in Showcase No.6 cover date Feb.1957 (Holy Spit! The Challs are 60 next month!) the Challengers of the Unknown were the first great super-team of the Silver Age. Though not possessing "powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man" the original team would hold their own against foes that might give the Justice League of America a moment's pause.
There was Ace Morgan,test pilot and Korean war ace. It would be revealed in the 60s that former military man Ace was the leader of the Challengers. Prof. Haley was an expert skin-diver and overall scientific genius. Rocky Davis was the former Olympic wrestling champion and strongman of the team. In later years Rocky in a world not populated by strange visitors from another planet Rocky might have been considered the world's strongest man. And finally there was Red Ryan, a circus daredevil and mountain climbing expert.
I always thought that a Challengers movie in the 50s or early 60s when the heroes were still wearing purple jumpsuits would have been perfect from the era that gave fan-boys movies like The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mole People and Worlds Without End. I would have cast Richard Denning as Ace. But a friend on FB suggested Dean Fredrericks who played Steve Canyon on TV as the fighter pilot. John Agar is my pick for Prof.Haley. Gordon Scott would be Rocky. And Edd "Kookie" Byrnes would be Red Ryan.
The storyline for this movie would follow the origin from Showcase No.6. But it would have the team going to one of those "land that time forgot" islands that always turn up in pulp fiction and B-movies to rescue some millionaire's daughter. There they would face a couple of stop-motion Ray Harryhausen dinosaurs. And Rocky would get to fight the champion of a lost city in the arena. The island would sink into the ocean after a long dormant volcano erupts and our heroes would escape in their plane.
Whatever Happened To The Female Challengers?
On the first page of Showcase No.6 there was a mention of four female adventurers who were appearing on a radio show. As far as I know these ladies were never to be seen again. I imagine they were to be counterpart to the Challs. My guess one would be an Olympic swimming champ and archeologist. Another a circus acrobat. Ace's counterpart would be a stunt pilot modeled after "Pancho" Barnes. And Rocky's counterpart would be based on "Rusty" Kanokogi. Kanokogi was a woman judoka. She first began studying the martial art in 1955. And in 1959 cutting her hair and taping her breasts down to disguise herself as a man she won a medal at a YMCA judo competition. Below is what a female Challengers comic might have looked like as illustrated by artist Vance Capley:
DR. JUDO, MR. INCOGNITO, PHANTOM GORILLA, AND THE GOLDEN ADONIS ARE GATHERED TOGETHER IN ONE NEW BOOK...JUDO COMICS!
GRAB YOURS TODAY! HERE IS THE LINK: JUDO COMICS!