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Who is the Mighty Samson?

August 30, 2009

Until the recent announcement that The Mighty Samson would be among the Gold Key titles revived for Dark Horse Comics by writer Jim Shooter, the character wasnít on many top ten lists. Following the announcement, though, itís become clear that a lot more readers are interested than they were before.

Created by writer Otto Binder (Captain Marvel) and artist Frank Thorne (Red Sonja), 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 lost 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. The 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 (1978), but that it. It seems Samson was otherwise destined for the pop culture scrap heap until Dark Horseís Mike Richardson spotted what must have seemed like a potential diamond in the rough.

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