Samson holds it together. Artist: Alex Blum.

SAMSON

Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Fox Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1939
Creators: Unknown writer (possibly Will Eisner) and Alex Blum (artist)
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Undaunted after having his first superhero, Wonder Man, shut down by DC Comics as a Superman clone, Victor Fox continued …

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… in that vein. Within a year of Wonder Man's rapid demise, he had The Flame, The Green Mask, Samson and several more all in print. In the latter case, he based the character on a classical source whose authors, being centuries dead, were in no position to sue.

Samson (who, on the rare-to-nonexistent occasions when he wore regular clothing, was addressed as "Sam", no last name given) was a direct descendant of the Biblical Samson. His unnamed and briefly-glimpsed mother didn't tell him until he was an adult, and he didn't figure it out despite the fact that his inherited characteristics included not just immense strength, but vulnerability to having his hair cut, a fact that villains apparently knew by instinct. (Fortunately his super powers included the ability to grow his hair back very quickly, like, by the next page of the story.) He'd already abandoned his shirt and pants in favor of fur trunks to show off his physique by the time a college friend, Professor Dunn, invented an "iconoscope" capable of remote viewing. It picked up the prayers of an eastern holy man in a tower, beseeching some unseen power, presumably God, to send a champion to battle evil and injustice. After visiting the holy man via super-speed, trans-oceanic leaps, Samson took an oath to embark on a full-time career of superheroing.

The hero made his first appearance in Fox's Fantastic Comics #1 (December, 1939), but the origin story wasn't wasn't there — he was just a super-strong guy in fur trunks, who did mighty battle with villains. The writer is believed to have been Will Eisner (whose stellar career includes The Spirit, the graphic novel A Contract with God, and much more), but this isn't known for sure. It was drawn by Alex Blum (Captain Commando, Classics Illustrated), using the pseudonym "Alex Boon". Blum stayed with the character for the duration of his run, but nobody knows who wrote the stories.

Samson (no relation, by the way) was one of Fox's most successful early superheroes. He began appearing in his own title with a Fall, 1940 cover date. At the same time, Fox launched Big 3, where he, The Flame and The Blue Beetle were the stars. The origin story was given in Samson #1, which also depicted him mixing Bible stories by adopting a recently-orphaned boy named David (no relation). David didn't appear in all of his stories thereafter, but was a fairly steady presence as Samson's sidekick.

The glory was short-lived. Fantastic Comics ended with its 23rd issue (November, 1941); and after #6 (September, 1941), Samson's own title was changed to Captain Aero. Also, he was the only character dropped from Big 3 — with its seventh (and last) issue, dated January 1942, he was replaced by V-Man, one of those superheroes who, like Harvey's Captain Freedom and Fawcett's Minute Man, wrapped themselves in the flag like a cheap politician.

After the demise of Fox's publishing empire, long-time associate Robert Farrell wound up in possession of many of his properties. Samson was revived in 1955, but the revival was short-lived. Since then, Gold Key Comics has done Mighty Samson and Hanna-Barbera has done Young Samson, but this version of Samson has been back only as part of the ever-burgeoning AC Comics (Femforce) line-up, which has come to include a lot of otherwise-forgotten heroes like him.

— DDM

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Text ©2006-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Fox Feature Syndicate