Challengers of the Fantastic
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Challengers of the Fantastic were an Amalgam Comics team of superhero wannabes who just wanted to prance around in Spandex like weirdos. They weren't really the worst team--they were rather good at embarrassing themselves and the reader--but they were no Fantastic Four.
Amalgam Comics, having passed the 1960's in a haze of pungent smoke, wished to get a bit of profit from the decade retroactively. Trying to rip off spy stories, it mixed James Bond with the Fantastic Four with a smattering of Challengers of the Unknown. The result was a really crappy superhero team dressed in purple.
The Challengers of the Fantastic appeared in 1965 in a series that lasted one issue. The story wasn't that bad, but the cover art gave away the con job.
The artists and writers refused to repay their salaries, and Amalgam Comics, now desperate to recover its investment, changed the Challengers to look less cheesy and more buff. They gave the men muscles the size of the state of Montana and the women jahooies bigger than beach-balls on a beach with lots of beach-balls.
The only known effect of this retooling - pardon the expression - was a lawsuit filed by the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), in conjunction with American feminists, for sexual stereotyping. Now the company was out a further $8,000,000 in damages, and the owner of Amalgam Comics was tearing his hair out.
But then a miracle happened. Though hammered by powerful, independent women, the publicity gave Amalgam Comics the recognition they needed, and--after only one additional total redesign--the Challengers of the Fantastic was an established franchise.
edit Plot summary
- Main article: Fantastic Four (for which the plot summary is essentially the same)
A space expedition involving Reed "Poof" Richards, Sue "Ace in Bed" Storm, Johnny "Red Ass" Storm and Ben "Rocky Horror" Grimm, goes awry and they crash land in Ohio, the land of the Dead. After fighting off hundreds of lifeless creatures bearing a strong resemblance to Ohio residents, they became daredevils and challenged the fantastic, using as their logo an antique egg-timer.
Reed went on to wear mechanical tentacles and Ben fought crime as a U.S. Senator.
edit Critical acclaim
Thankfully for readers, the Challengers are rare today; not many people are interested in spy stories any more. Nor even is Amalgam Comics. They are too busy with Dark Claw to continue humping a crummy series from the 60's, although Nursing Home Hippies has sold a few copies.