Dark Horse has once again given us another quality collection of classic comics in their Dark Horse Archives series, with the second volume of Mighty Samson. This wonderful hardcover brings us pristine editions of Gold Key’s Mighty Samson comics, issues#7-#14. Like the fantastic first volume, this second installment brings us unparalleled action and coolness, cover to cover, and everything in between. Mighty Samson was one of the best comics during the years it was published, but has been recently overlooked, until now, with the Dark Horse revivals of classic Gold Key characters like Magnus, Turok, Dr. Solar, and of course our topical hero. There is no better time to read this treasure of comic art. Don’t think twice, put your money down on this book.
In issue #7, Samson and the crew are exploring the ancient subway tunnels of N’Yark, where they discover an underground tribe of tunnel-dwellers and a huge population of giant monster moles. Just as Samson is battling both sides, they come across something much more scary than either opposing party – an atomic bomb, which has become reactivated after all these years. In issue #8 we get the most eerie sci-fi story of this collection. Samson and the crew are somehow being called to, as if something were hypnotizing and touching their minds. Unable to help themselves, they start a long trek, joining up with other humans, towards an unknown destination, almost like lemmings waiting to die! They battle many monsters on their journey, until they find they are being summoned to a huge radioactive stone that is tapped into the human psyche; but that isn’t the worst part, as they soon find out! Issue #9 is just a ton of classic sci-fi rock’em sock’em fun as our heroes travel to a future Washington D.C. (also in ruins like everything else on the planet), where they run into their enemy Queen Terra. Terra has reactivated an ancient robot that was acting as a bodyguard to the last President of the Untied States. Samson and the Robot Guard begin a slug-fest melee across the entire city: non-stop awesome.
Issue #10 pits our heroes against their other long-time enemy, Kull, who leads his tribe living on the ancient building tops, high above the jungles now growing below. More fighting fun throughout this issue against some really high odds, when Sharmaine and the Professor are kidnapped. Issue #11 takes a more unexpected, and interesting, approach, telling the tale of people living on N’Yark who are having trouble growing food. Meanwhile, tribesmen from the main land who can grow, come down to trade, which is fine until greed takes everyone for a spin. This issue has a really intriguing Twilight Zone moral tale feeling to it, and also features this really cool metal eating monster at its beginning. Issue #12 spins the tale of our heroes taking on Queen Terra once again, as they battle on reactivated ancient river boats. Issue #13 features a great “prophet” controlling people via, what in reality, is the use of ancient electricity (still running in N’Yark due to automated systems all these years). Plenty of great action in this issue as Samson rescues Sharmaine and the Professor once again from danger, and fights a really crazy flying jellyfish creature. Finally, issue #14 is the story of Samson investigating what appears to be oil covering the beaches of N’Yark. This closing chapter takes the group all the way down the coast to post-apocalyptic Miami, which has turned into a small desert area. The people there are hostile, and if that wasn’t bad enough, an automated factory reawakened after an earthquake is randomly showering their land with rain storms of nails! The issue ends with dinosaurs showing up and invading, which provides us with my favorite crazed action slug-fest of the collection. It’s a great note to end on.
Otto Binder’s writing really shines here. Yes, he was the guy behind numerous cool comic creations, including Captain Marvel’s enemy Mr. Mind, Superboy’s best friend Krypto, and more. Certainly his imagination thrilled every reader who graced anything his brain cooked up, and in this reviewer’s opinion, Mighty Samson was the best thing he ever wrote. Here he was free to play in a future world where anything was possible: Mutants on every street corner, barbaric tribes in every ruined town, and a one-eyed hero with the strength of ten men who uses mailboxes and street lamps as weapons. There was never anything quite as magical as what Binder came up with in these pages, and surely his genius in Mighty Samson can be seen in such later works like Thundarr, The Barbarian.
Frank Thorne provides the art on issue #7, and Jack Sparling pencils issues #8-#14. Both gentlemen lay out an array of awesome world-gone-wrong battle/action scenes, and some of the coolest monsters to deck comic book history’s pages. Once again Morris Gollub paints awesome covers that cry of pulp-age manliness and sci-fi brilliance. The covers alone, in all their full painted glory, are enough to suck in anybody with an eye for art.
Dark Horse has done a great job with this collection. They even get extra bonus points for including a Gold Key page at the end of every issue, where children would draw their own futuristic monster and send it in. This full color collection is over 200 pages, and should be prized by any collector who loves this genre of hi-fantasy/sci-fi. The colors and pages look vibrant and great here, and the paper it’s printed on isn’t glossy, but a thicker pulp stock, closer to the classic type that would have been used in the day; it gives us that nostalgic feel we long for, reading these issues from yesteryear. A nice touch too is the intro from Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man and current Spider-Girl writer, Paul Tobin. For $49.99 you can’t go wrong with this wonderful collection.
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A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.