A disparate group of strangers arrive in a mysterious laboratory in an unknown location. Everyone is scared and unsure of what to make of one another. All they remember before arriving is their deaths. A person calling himself the Prof arrives and informs them that they have been selected to become the next generation of the Challengers of the Unknown.
The New Challengers #1 revives the Challengers of the Unknown with a dark edge to the proceedings. The comic opens with a mysterious and gruesome villain and then moves onto a new group of heroes. It even takes the “cheating death” angle and warps it into something a little darker.
It does “feel” a little edgy too. It’s not terribly so, and it doesn’t collapse into angst. However, it’s hard to not look at this as a “dark take” on the Challengers of the Unknown.
Trina Alvarez is the point of view character for the story, and she is a solid character. She was an unlicensed doctor and herbalist in Gotham City who genuinely tried to do good for others, and the moment that led to her being brought to Challengers Mountain is both badass and believable given what we know about her up until that point.
Andy Kubert’s artwork is quite solid, and it handles this more macabre take on the Challengers well. The grittiness of the line work matches the down-on-their-luck tone and nature of the characters. There is a lot of good detailing sprinkled in on every page. Klaus Janson’s inking looks good. Brad Anderson’s color work is similarly atmospheric and dim in addition to just looking good.
New Challengers #1 leaves me on the fence. There are plenty of interesting places for this story to go, but it could also devolve into macabre for the sake of macabre. In any case, this first issue is solid, unique, and recommendable, and you should feel free to check it out.
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