Samson grabs a typical foe in an atypical way. Artist: Morris Gollub.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Gold Key Comics
First Appeared: 1964
Creators: Otto Binder (writer) and Frank Thorne (artist)
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Kids reading comic books in the 1960s had known since birth that it was possible for an all-out war to destroy civilization — but the comics they were reading were slow to respond to …

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… the fact. DC Comics' Atomic Knights series, set in a post-Catastrophe future, began a full 15 years after Hiroshima and lasted only 15 quarterly episodes. Gold Key's Mighty Samson (no relation) started when the Knights had been gone a year (July, 1964, to be exact), but lasted much longer. The 1970s brought DC's Kamandi, Marvel's War of the Worlds and others set after the Collapse, but for the rest of the '60s, Mighty Samson was the only one.

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.


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