In his final four issues of the Challengers of the Unknown, Jack Kirby continued to knock out some fantastic imagery aided by inker Wally Wood. The stories were a weird amalgam of techno-adventures and outright sci-fi weirdness. In issues five the heroes living on borrowed time match wits with a criminal named Vreedl who circuits the globe looking for obscure jewels which combined with a strange meteor grant him offbeat powers such as the ability to cast heat and fame, to fly, become aquatic and ultimately vast strength. The boys are just able to fend off his attacks and chase him down and use their wits to defeat him.
Then things get really bizarre in the sixth issue when the Challs are kidnapped by an outer space circus and made part of the alien acts. They lead a revolt of the assemble aliens and seems to have skills which are almost dreamlike. Then unofficial Challenger June Robbins gets captured by a hood hiding in a lost city and she becomes a sorceress of prophecy who tries more than once to kill the Challs before they are able to return her to normal.
In the seventh issue the Challs find themselves forced to round up escaped alien monsters from a crashed zoo ship. They confront a strange enormous armadillo-like creature, a peculiar jellyfish like beast that consumes metal and a flying bird that breathes flame. Then on the Isle of No Return they confront Anton Zammer who has control of incredible inventions by a famous eccentric scientist. Among the many gimmicks he uses is one which reduces the team to doll size. June once again has to save the day when she is able to rescue the boys and defeat the villain.
In the eighth and final issue by Kirby and Wood, the team comes to the rescue of a friend of June's who has inherited a castle which comes with three mysterious boxes, each of which hides a dangerous secret. A villain named Drabny gets control of the boxes and uses them to control the local area. One box makes folks young again and Ace and Rocky fall victim to it. One box has a helmet which allows a person to control matter and another has goggles which let a person see the future. Despite their loss of manpower the team nonetheless work together to end the menace. The Challs last adventure under the hand of Kirby has them travel to a distant planet where robots have taken over form the local populace. The Challs battle the robot menace and succeed a final time to bring back order to the universe.
And that wraps up Kirby's third and final year on the team. He would not take them on again until he returned to DC a decade later and would draw a single cover. Later he'd supply some art for their Who's Who appearance and draw a crossover with Superman, but for the most part Jack Kirby was done with the Challengers of the Unknown, his first and in some ways most brilliant quartet of Silver Age heroes.
Next week, we take a look a the extensive reprint life of the Challengers. For guys living on borrowed time, it was most ironic.