Nemesis, from his first cover. Artist: Pete Costanza.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: American Comics Group (ACG)
First Appeared: 1965
Creators: “Shane O'Shea” (Richard E. Hughes), writer; and Pete Costanza, artist
If this site is enjoyable or useful to you,
Please contribute to its necessary financial support. or PayPal

The trend toward superheroes in American comic books of the 1960s must have been nearly impossible to resist. Even a small company run by a single individual who …

continued below

… disliked the genre eventually succumbed to it. The American Comics Group, operated by industry veteran Richard E. Hughes (who knew superheroes from having written The Black Terror, The Woman in Red and others during the 1940s, but much preferred stories without continuing characters) gave in and launched two of the long underwear guys, Nemesis and Magicman, in 1965.

Nemesis was of the sub-genre that never put on a superhero suit in his life — it was only after he died that he became one. Like The Spectre, Mr. Justice, Deadman and quite a few others, it was his own murder that set him on the path to superherodom.

In life, Nemesis had been Steve Flint, a detective working with the U.S. Justice Department, who was working to bring down a mob boss named Goratti when a train, at Goratti's behest, ran over him. Steve's next stop was "The Unknown", as the Afterlife was called in ACG comics, where (possibly because the guy currently working as Grim Reaper (no relation) was new on the job) he found the freshly deceased souls such as himself backed up and waiting a long time for processing. Steve begged the Reaper to let him return to Earth while he was waiting, so he could bring Goratti down. As luck would have it, the Reaper had also been murdered by Goratti, so he acceded to the request. Steve was outfitted with a chic superhero ensemble of striped short-shorts, bare legs, long-sleeved tunic with an hourglass on the chest, and (to signify he was a ghost) a hood. He did such a good job on the Goratti case, he got a permanent gig as guardian of the Mortal Realm.

These events occurred in the 154th issue (February, 1965) of Adventures into the Unknown, which had started in 1948 as a horror comic, survived the advent of The Comics Code Authority by switching to mild fantasy, and was still hanging on in the mid-1960s as a relic of long-defunct industry trends. The script was credited to Shane O'Shea, but that was just a pseudonym for Hughes himself (as were the other names credited with writing at ACG). The artist was Pete Costanza, who had started in comics during the 1940s as assistant to C.C. Beck on Captain Marvel and retired in the '70s as artist on Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. Costanza was replaced three issues later by Chic Stone, long a mainstay at ACG, who is best remembered for inking Jack Kirby at Marvel Comics.

Nemesis continued as the lead feature in Adventures into the Unknown, with non-series stories continuing to occupy the back pages. He stepped out of that title only twice. In Forbidden Worlds #136 (July, 1966), he met Magicman; and in Herbie #14 (January, 1966) both met ACG's "third" superhero, The Fat Fury.

Apparently, despite the genre's popularity with other publishers, Nemesis didn't add much to the salability of Adventures into the Unknown. He was gone from the cover as of the 168th issue (November, 1966) and from the magazine itself as of #171 (March, 1967), and that was the end of ACG's affair with superheroes. Five months later, the company itself folded. Its assets are now owned by a comics entrepreneur who makes sporadic attempts to market properties such as Nemesis, but so far, these attempts have been even less successful than the character's original run.


BACK to Don Markstein's Toonopedia™ Home Page
Today in Toons: Every day's an anniversary!


Purchase Toon-related Merchandise Online

Text ©2004-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Roger Broughton.