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Mighty Samson

May 12, 2013

Although Dark Horse's revival of the Gold Key characters in terms of new material was short lived, their thriving archival series has helped prompt new awareness of the characters. Mighty Samson is definitely not the best known of the lot, of course. Magnus, Solar and Turok would compete for that distinction, but that didn't mean Samson didn't give it the old post-Doomsday Cataclysm college try.

There are four volumes of Mighty Samson Archives in print (the 200-page, $49.95 hardcover format). It's a chance to experience the work of writer Otto Binder (Captain Marvel) and art of Frank Thorne (Red Sonja, who illustrated the first five issues) and DC veteran Jack Sparling.

In the original created by Binder and Thorne, the character first appeared in Mighty Samson #1 in 1964. Samson was a barbarian-esque denizen of N'Yark, an area of jungle-infested ruins dotted with crumbled skyscrapers and populated by mutants spawned from the fires of a nuclear conflict. Given his name, itís probably not surprising that he was very large and equally strong.

Despite the dog-eat-dog world of the future, Samson made a deathbed promise to his mother to only use his power for good. In the first issue, one of the mutant creatures, liobear, cost Samson an eye, so he was seen with an eye patch afterward. He also wore the liobearís skin, thus pretty much completing the set-up for the series.

The Mighty Samson initially ran for 20 issues, ending in 1969. It was revived intermittently for another 12 issues until 1982, some of which were reprints. Mighty Samson #32, released under the Whitman imprint, is notable as the only issue featuring a line art cover. The others in the series generally featured paintings by Morris Gollub or George Wilson.

The character also appeared in one issue of Gold Key Champion (#2, 1978), but that was it until Dark Horse revived Mighty Samson in their recent series. For it, former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter teamed with J.C. Vaughn and artist Patrick Olliffe to update the character and his world for modern audiences in a new series. The trade paperback collecting the four-issue series is available.

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