Monday, September 29, 2014

MIGHTY SAMSON


When I was a kid (and boy howdy, just how many of these blog posts have started out with those exact same words? I'm thinking about renaming this blog to "When I Was A Kid". But I digress....) there was a comic book entitled MIGHTY SAMSON. Published by Gold Key comics beginning in 1964, the series took place in a post-apocalyptic New York City, now named "N'Yark" by the handful of humans living there. Among the humans was the elder scientist/wise man Mindor (who was always drawn by artist Frank Thorne to resemble actor Anthony Zerbe), his oh-so-lovely daughter Sharmaine and the hero of the book, the Mighty Samson, a one-eyed, animal-skin-wearing super-strong man.

The series lasted 32 issues, which was a pretty good run for an original Gold Key title back in the day. It ended in 1982. The early issues featured stories by Otto Binder and artwork by Frank Thorne (yay!) and Jack Sparling (ugh!). Thorne's expressive, baroque, slightly rococo style was a joy to look at, at least it was for my young (and now old) eyes. But Jack Sparling's artwork, on whatever comic book he worked on, always struck me as ugly and unpleasant. Jack himself may have been one helluva guy but his artwork? Remember the movie MY LEFT FOOT? I think it was a documentary about Sparling's drawing method.

MIGHTY SAMSON was a rollicking sf/adventure series with Samson, Mindor and Sharmaine encountering various mutated beasties and tribes of other human survivors in the ruins of New York and the wastelands of the Eastern Seaboard. It was a fresh and exciting concept and I loved it.



Recently, Dark Horse Comics acquired the rights to once again produce a regular MIGHTY SAMSON comic book. The first four issues of the series have been collected in MIGHTY SAMSON: JUDGMENT (pictured above)  which I read the other day. The script by Jim Shooter extrapolates and expands the basic Samson set up by telling the story of two warring tribes of humans, one in New York City, the other in New Jersey. There's all sorts of political intrigue and power struggles along with bloody battles and the requisite mutated monsters. Into this conflict plops Might Samson who begins playing both ends against the middle and ends up in control of the New York tribe by the end of the story arc. Mindor and Sharmaine are along for the ride along with a number of supporting characters (good and bad).

The artwork by Patrick Olliffe is very loose and sketchy looking in a number of places. It's not bad but it's not Frank Thorne. I enjoyed reading MIGHTY SAMSON: JUDGMENT for the most part. It's a fresh spin on a venerable character and the story was well plotted and complex enough to keep me turning the pages. I didn't like it well enough to want to seek out other Dark Horse issues of MIGHTY SAMSON however. Nope, it just made me want to dig out some Gold Key issues of MIGHTY SAMSON (I have several)  and take a stroll down a disaster devastated and mutant monster populated memory lane.

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