Our eleventh episode is a straight-up homage to The Challengers of the Unknown one of Lanny Latham and my own inspirations for the Adventure Team Chronicles. The Challengers were Jack Kirby‘s original quartet of uniformed adventurers. He would later rework the concept when he created the Fantastic Four, allowing their non-super powered predecessors to fade into semi-obscurity. In their often outlandish, Sci Fi themed adventures the Challengers fought any number of unusual adversaries, including not an insignificant number of giant-sized robots, women, and yes, insects.
We asked Rod to lean into the early Kirby style a bit which you can see in the opening panel. We also tweaked the AT uniforms a bit to stylistically match the early Challengers. I liked the khaki cargo pants and T-shirt look so much we used it again a number of times over the years. It also showed up on it Joe Colton/AT Commander figure in the 2014 convention set.
This was Mike Power’s first outing as an Adventure Team member. From the get-go he is at cross purposes with the Land Adventurer. Over time they will develop a grudging respect for one another, but at this point, Joe regards pre-Atomic Mike as just another one in a long line of science advisors. Our idea was that the Team’s previous science advisers were kind of like drummers in Spinal Tap, often meeting bizarre and unfortunate ends.
Pre-atomic Mike would go on to be my favorite character in the series. I was extremely happy when one of the G.I.Joe Club’s last figures was a re-issue of Mike Power Atomic Man, with head sculpt resembling how he had been drawn in the series and with, not one, but two atomic legs.
One of the best parts of doing this feature was collaborating with Lanny Lathem. Once each month we would get on the phone for half an hour or so. I would pitch a rough idea, and he would invariably come up with an angle or two that I hadn’t considered. By the end of the call we always had something workable. While I wrote the scripts, most of the best ideas we went forward with came out of those spit-balling sessions.
So, while we dedicated this particular episode to Jack Kirby I would dedicate this entire first volume to Lanny, with thanks for giving me this opportunity and for being a terrific creative partner.