Brand Echh – Adventures Into The Unknown #154

The American Comics Group was a regular presence on the nation;s newsstands from the mid-1940s through to the close of the 1960s. They did a wide variety of comic books with their own unique flavor–but the one genre that they mostly avoided was super heroes. Editor and main writer Richard Hughes reportedly had little interest in super heroes–he thought they were dopey. But by the mid-1960s, the new super hero fad led by Marvel had grown so prominent that Hughes felt he had little choice but to introduce his own super-characters in the pages of his long-running mystery/fantasy titles.

And so, ADVENTURES INTO THE UNKNOWN #154 introduced Nemesis, in a story credited to writer Shane O’Shea and artist Pete Costanza. In actuality, it was the work of writer/editor Richard Hughes himself, using one of his running aliases. The cover is also signed by Costanza, but appears to actually be the work of moonlighting DC artist Kurt Schaffenberger–seems like it was signed with Pete’s name so that Kurt’s DC editors, in particular Mort Weisinger, would be unaware.

Nemesis was pretty much DC’s Spectre with the serial numbers filed off, and an even daffier costume (striped trunks with bare legs). But it maintained the somewhat nutty flavor of the ACG output, so it was far less grim or dark than the Spectre or most other costumed heroes of the day.

Nemesis was Steve Flint, FBI man, whose career was cut short when he was killed by the Mafia. Like Jim Corrigan before him, he went to his Eternal Reward only to discover that the Earthly realm wasn’t done with him. In ACG books, this meant The Unknown, their benign and inoffensive version of the afterlife where even Satan wears a super hero costume..

Color be doubtful, but I don’t think the Mafia is going to be stunned senseless by that costume. By the same token, I don’t know what a super-powered dead man has to worry about that the Mafia could throw at him either.

From a distance and with him both transparent and wearing a mask–to say nothing of Goratti only having one eye–the Mafia boos can still identify Nemesis as Steve Flint.

He’s like the Spectre except a klutz who winds up killing his adversaries by accident!

ACG was also the birthplace of Herbie Popnecker, a character we’ll no doubt touch on in the future. But here’s a little taste from this issue.

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