Saturday, 22 November 2014

Charlton Comics: Sixties Action Heroes Line

With the release of the latest chapter of Grant Morrison's Multiversity series I thought it time to have a look a t the characters he uses on this version of Earth in the New 52 "multiverse". These are from the short lived but fondly remembered Charlton Comics "Action Heroes line from the mid sixties.

The best known and longest running of their superhero line was Captain Atom created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko and first appeared in Space Adventures March 1960. He went on to have 12 issues of his own solo title oddly numbered 78 to 89 due to the policy of Charlton to continue numbering from previous and quite often unrelated series in an attempt to avoid postal charges.

 Captain Atom (Charlton) 86

The other hero that caught my attention in particular back in those days was the reinvention of the Blue Beetle.  Revamped by the great Steve Ditko these issues are particularly worth tracking down as the search for the original Blue Beetle leads Ted Kord to take up the mantle of Blue Beetle following the death of the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett.

Cover for Blue Beetle (Charlton) #1 (1967)

In the first issue we see the introduction of The Question, a wee bit of an anomaly for the Comic Code controlled era of comics. In his one and only solo book published by Charlton, he leaves the villain of the story to die.

Many see the influence of Anne Rand's philosophy in this particular work. Nevertheless the shock ending does leave an impression on the reader.

The other heroes of the line did not particularly appeal to this young reader at the time, though they are worth a second look if you can find a copy.


The Charlton line of heroes were eventually purchased by DC Comics after Charlton's demise in the 1980's and Alan Moore had intended to use them as the basis for his opus The Watchmen, but after Dc realised how they would be used they made him create his own characters.

If you carefully examine this comic you will see how the various main players are based on the Charlton heroes.

Now that little trip through a small part of comic history is over it's time to read the latest issue of Multiversity.

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