|My weapons … the gun i call Mike and the knife Ike! Once again, They are my only friends … my only allies … and my hope!|
Just as The Shadow series was about to draw to a close, DC released this short-lived series featuring another 1930s pulp character, the Avenger, with most of the original stories written by Paul Ernst writing as Kenneth Robeson. Like The Shadow series, Denny O’Neil handled the writing duties and had a crossover story in The Shadow #11. The art in the first issue was by Al McWilliams but what makes the series stand out is the art on the remainder of the series by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer. Jack Kirby is of course the comics legend who helped create characters such as Captain America and other Marvel staples such as the Fantastic Four, X-Men and the Hulk as well as the Fourth World mythos for DC.
The first issue features the origin of the Avenger. Richard Benson is an adventurer and explorer who boards a plane to Montreal with his wife and daughter. On returning from the bathroom, he finds his wife and daughter missing along with another passenger. Everyone else on the plane insists that they were never on it and in an ensuing fight Benson is knocked out cold. He awakes three weeks later in hospital to find that his skin and hair have turned white and that he can mold his face so as to mimic others. Benson then sets off to investigate what happened to his wife and daughter and avenge them.
All the stories can standalone but, as he picks up new members for his Justice Inc. crime fighting operation along the way with each issue, should be read in order if possible. The first story is about a hostile company takeover but the remaining stories all feature some technological or scientific discovery as the focus of the story.
The series features more pulpy goodness from O’Neil and fabulous art from Kirby. The technology based stories and face changing antics of the Avenger puts me in mind of the Mission Impossible TV series and it would be interesting to find out if O’Neil was influenced by this or if it was a feature of the original pulps. Worth a look for fans of Jack Kirby if you can find it.