Mighty Samson

Mighty Samson was an original comic book series from Gold Key Comics. Similar to other post-apocalyptic titles like Kamandi, Atomic Knights or the like, it was set in the area around New York, now known as "N'Yark", in an Earth devastated by a nuclear war.

Mighty Samson lasted 32 issues between 1964 and 1982. The first issue was published in July 1964. The title was cancelled with #20 (1969). Issues 7–20 each had a back-up story with the large-headed character Tom Morrow. Mighty Samson was brought back in 1972 and lasted until #31 in 1976. The first two new issues were reprints; issue #21 (reprinting #7), and issue #22 (reprinting #2). A final new story was published in Gold Key Champion #2 in 1978. #32 (a reprint of #3, but with a line-art version of #4's cover) was published under the "Whitman Comics" line in 1982, and sold in a bag with Turok #130 and Dagar the Invincible #18.

Mighty Samson was created by writer Otto Binder and artist Frank Thorne. Artist Jack Sparling took over the artwork with #8, and Binder and Sparling did the title through #20. In the new issues beginning with #23, art was by Jose Delbo, and later by Jack Abel.

Samson was a wandering barbarian adventurer. An apparent mutant, due to his size and strength, but one who did only good. In the first issue, he loses an eye to a liobear, who he kills and skins (and whose hide he would wear). He is nursed back to health by Sharmaine, whose father Mindor had figured out some 20th-century knowledge from artifacts from the past.Unlike other heroes of this type,Samson came off as street smart,intelligent.

Samson (no relation) was first seen as a solitary barbarian-style adventurer in a region known as N'Yark, where jungle was reclaiming a landscape that consisted mostly of ruined skyscrapers. Radiation-spawned mutants, beast and man, littered the landscape, and these mutants were more like the grotesqueries of Judge Dredd's world than the "nice" mutants found in Marvel Comics' X-Men. Samson himself was a mutant, one of the few whose mutation was relatively benign — he was amazingly large and strong, hence the name. But he used his strength only for good, having promised his mother, on her deathbed, to help others rather than dominate them.

In the first issue, Samson lost an eye to a liobear, one of the large carnivores inhabiting N'Yark. A young woman named Sharmaine nursed him back to health, aided by the 20th century knowledge her father, Mindor, had managed to reconstruct from surviving artifacts. Samson repaid their kindness by protecting them from raiding savages, and from then on, Samson and Sharmaine were an "item". He cut quite a dashing figure, with a fur patch over one eye and wearing a liobear skin.

Samson and his entourage were created by writer Otto Binder (best remembered for Captain Marvel, but also known for such oddities as Space Cabby and Fatman the Human Flying Saucer) and artist Frank Thorne (Red Sonja, Ghita of Alizarr). Most covers were fully painted by Morris Gollub, who had done dozens of covers for Dell and Gold Key. Those not painted by Gollub were generally by George Wilson, another Dell/Gold Key regular.

Mighty Samson was published on a regular basis until 1969, then again in the mid-1970s. The final issue, and the only one with a line-drawn cover, staggered to the stands in 1982, six years after its immediate predecessor. 32 issues were published altogether. Samson also starred in one issue of Gold Key Champion, which came out in 1978. There doesn't seem to have been any attempt to license him to other media, so he's never appeared on TV, in theatres, or even on a pair of Underoos.

Western Printing and Lithographing, which owns Gold Key, got out of the comic book business in 1984. A few years later some of its properties, such as Doctor Solar and Turok, Son of Stone, were picked up by Valiant Comics, but Samson wasn't one of them.

Project Superpowers, a comic book from Alex Ross and Dynamite Entertainment announced in 2007, reviving many golden-age comic book characters will feature a Samson that is ostensibly the golden age Fox Features Samson, though the visual design seems to have been inspired by the Gold Key character.

In 2010, Dark Horse Comics began publishing the first of four hardcover archives, each reprinting several issues of the original series in one place for the first time.

December 2010, Dark Horse Comics also began a new re-imagining the Mighty Samson series. Among the new creative team members are former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter serving as head writer, and artist include Patrick Olliffe. The first issue included a bonus reprint of the 1964 issue, number 1.

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