Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Challengers of the Unknown

Speaking of Howard Chaykin... in 2004 Chaykin rebooted Jack Kirby's Challengers of the Unknown in a six-issue limited series entitled Stolen Moments, Borrowed Time.  Though this series was published over ten years ago, I didn't discover it until recently.

If you've read my book CHAMELEO:  A STRANGE BUT TRUE STORY OF INVISIBLE SPIES, HEROIN ADDICTION, AND HOMELAND SECURITY, you may recall that several important scenes take place in Long Beach, CA.  Coincidentally, Chaykin's mini-series (published during the same time frame during which the events of CHAMELEO take place) is about a group of five Americans who are abducted by a "secret society of multibillionaires who rule the world from behind a scrim of night and fog" and repeatedly taken to Long Beach, CA where they're mind-controlled, genetically manipulated, and remade into obedient super-soldiers.  

These five patsies are chosen by their masters to take the blame for a staged terrorist attack at the Port of Long Beach.  Unfortunately for the secret society, the microwaves used to detonate the explosives fry the biochips implanted in the five super-soldiers, temporarily freeing them from control.

Here's some choice dialogue (spoken by the head of the secret society) from issue #5:  

"...of course, we've been manipulating history by political assassination as far back as McKinley... our pawns have simply gotten vastly better at their jobs.  But it isn't all about violence... since we control the world's energy, we were able to profit by market manipulation of oil... and media manipulation of paranoia, xenophobia, and nuclear terror... all of which made us even richer. 

"Clues to our existence have surfaced occasionally over the years... often in the form of speculative fiction and fantasy.  There was even a quartet of escaped pawns who called themselves the Challengers of the Unknown, inspiring a so-called comic book.  All these subliterary forms were easily dismissed, ridiculed, or suborned... or portrayed as meta-fiction we could paint as paranoid fantasies at worst... and as source material to trivialize for our own entertainment product at best... reducing potentially dangerous truths to mindless thrill rides... just one more step in using popular culture as an instrument of social engineering... keeping the lower orders at each other's throats with our own version of bread and circuses... a circus presided over by our news division.  

"'News.'  Can you believe it?  The masses simply ate this endless stream of disinformation up as if it were the holy writ... keeping the world distracted while we live and work in peace, privacy and relative invisibility... work which includes identifying troublemakers, malcontents and contrarians like yourselves... kidnapping you, then genetically altering you into sleeping tigers... all the while letting you continue to misbehave until when a situation arises... we can pick and choose which rabble rouser is most appropriate for the job at hand... achieving our agenda--political murder, mayhem or what have you... leaving a dead contrarian to take the blame.  Oswald, Ray, Sirhan Sirhan?  All my boys."

If you're interested in acquiring a copy of Howard Chaykin's Challengers of the Unknown, click HERE.

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