Charlton Action Heroes

Late-60s ad for the Action Hero line, featuring most of Charlton’s super-heroes. Four of these guys went on to be used as the basis for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen series twenty years later. Captain Atom became Dr Manhattan; Peacemaker (he loves peace so much, he’s willing to fight for it) became the Comedian; Blue Beetle became Night Owl; and Thunderbolt became Ozymandias. Poor old Judo Master, eh — always the last to be invited to a party. Other Action Heroes not included here were the Question (Rorshach) and the sole distaff member, Nightshade (Silk Spectre).

The Action Heroes line was the brainchild of Charlton editor-in-chief Dick Giordano, and saw the Connecticut publisher giving a mighty push to try and challenge the super-hero dominance of DC and Marvel. Most memorably Steve Ditko worked on Captain Atom and completely overhauled the moribund Blue Beetle, as well as creating the Question. All those are worth a look, the others perhaps not so much. Poor distribution, and Giordano’s move to DC Comics put an end to the experiment.

Image ©2010 Charlton/the respective copyright holder