DC Comics (and Marvel for that matter) specialized in sci-fi anthology books between superhero booms, and sometimes those books would feature a character or two that would transition over to the superhero universe. I think Marvel was more inclined to do that as many of the giant monsters with weird names have popped up in their books over the years. Heck, Guardian of the Galaxy Groot started out as one of them, a very articulate and very evil alien tree that was originally defeated by termites.
DC, however, did that from time to time too. That’s where the scientist character Darwin Jones came from, and perhaps more prominently, the Faceless Hunters.
The Faceless Hunters are, well, aliens without faces. They first appeared in Strange Adventures #24 in January of 1961 in a story from writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowski, the same creative team responsible for the earliest Justice League adventures. Now, a bit about Strange Adventures as a series. It didn’t really have much in the way of featured characters. Each issue was divided into three, maybe four six-to-eight page stories. Most stories had a generic white man introduce himself (like his name mattered) and then explain what bizarre incident came along that he just barely managed to defeat. It could be an alien invasion of some kind that threatens the Earth as a whole, or it could be something smaller that might only threaten a small town in the middle of nowhere. These were stories where characters would be sure to state out loud what they were doing at all times, my guess so particularly slow children would figure out what was going on because the pictures alone might not be enough. Once a threat was determined and a way to beat it established, any other people that could help would because we were all in it together or something. Aliens might express fear of the atomic bomb because they didn’t have one or they’d say something to establish why the a-bomb was powerless to stop them. And then there’d be some last page twist, the threat would be vanquished, and the protagonist could be safely forgotten. It was rare for the same villains to threaten the same heroes more than once.
That said, the Faceless Hunters returned three times from the looks of things. These guys came from Saturn…sort of. In reality, their homeworld of Klaramar orbited a single molecule inside of Saturn, and they did indeed lack faces, but don’t worry. Evolution explained how that came to be.
As it is, some Faceless Hunters were friendly and others weren’t. The three stories published in Strange Adventures featured a benevolent Faceless Hunter named Klee Pan who would always team up with a pair of Oregon Highway Patrolman named Bob Colby and Jim Boone. The three met when Colby and Boone were investigating why Pan was trying to steal Mount Rushmore and the Easter Island heads.
OK, I get that actual science wasn’t always the strong suit for books like these, but why are two motorcycle cops who keep an eye out for speeders in Oregon investigating, among other things, a crime that took place around a national monument in South Dakota? That sounds like a job for the FBI or even the South Dakota state police.
Regardless, there was a reason Klee Pan was doing that, and it was to stop his villainous counterpart Chun Yull. Pan, Colby, and Boone would thwart Yull’s plans two more times, the last time being an incident where Yull extorted the UN to make himself “Earth Citizen Number One” with the threat of blowing the whole planet up with a bomb, but it turned out that for some reason Faceless Hunters can only destroy worlds they are a citizen of, and it was a good thing Klee Pan came back that time.
They can only destroy planets they are citizens of? That is one weird kryptonite.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that most of the creations from Strange Adventures haven’t really made the jump to DC’s other books, and that may be a good thing. Some of those things were really freakin’ weird and crazy as befits the era but might be a bit much for even the most die-hard DC fans today.
But for some reason, the Faceless Hunters, particularly Chun Yull, have appeared in DC’s superhero books. In said adventures, the Faceless Hunters possess flight, superhuman strength, supersenses, size modification, and they seem to prefer the use of the whip as a weapon. Yull doesn’t particularly belong to any one character’s rogues gallery, though he may be most likely to mess with the Green Lantern, but he has appeared in a number of places, even popping up in a couple episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold as the herald of Starro the Conqueror.
But perhaps most importantly for this column was Yull joined a supervillain team called the Forgotten Villains, a team formed by Vandal Savage to fight the similarly named Forgotten Heroes team like by Savage’s archfoe the Immortal Man. Say, a group with a name like that, I am sure I can pop up another one for next week…
Weekend Trek “Ship In A Bottle”
Vikings: Valhalla “Pieces Of The Gods”
Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #52 (September, 1967)