The Unexpected

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The Unexpected
Cover to The Unexpected #105 (March 1968).
Art by Bob Brown.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre Fantasy
Publication date February–March 1968 - May 1982
No. of issues 118
Main character(s)
Creative team
Written by

The Unexpected was a fantasy-horror comic book series, a continuation of Tales of the Unexpected, published by American company DC Comics. It ran 118 issues, #105 (February–March 1968) to #222 (May 1982).[1]

Publication history[edit]

Unlike the predecessor, it was a fantasy anthology at first, then turned into a weird/horror anthology in the style of House of Secrets and House of Mystery. Its first "host" was The Mad Mod Witch. Nick Cardy was the cover artist for The Unexpected for issues #111, 116-117, 119-120, 123, 125-139, 141-162.[2] The series was published in the 100 Page Super Spectacular format from #157 (May–June 1974) to #162 (March–April 1975).[1][3] The Unexpected Special was published in 1977 as an issue of DC Special Series.[4] With issue #189 (January–February 1979), The Unexpected converted to the Dollar Comics format[5] and incorporated House of Secrets and The Witching Hour.[6] Each "Unexpected" story would always include the word in its last panel. After the merge, this was only true of the Unexpected section; there would then be complete, ad-free issues of The Witching Hour, hosted by its witches, and The House of Secrets, hosted by Abel. The Witching Hour feature was alternated with Doorway to Nightmare (starring Madame Xanadu), which appeared in issues #190, 192, 194, and 195. With issue #196 (March 1980), the series was restored to standard size, and rather than three complete issues in one, there was one story each per issue. The House of Secrets continued through issue #208; The Witching Hour continued to appear until issue #209 (April 1981), which incorporated the science fiction series, Time Warp. The final issue of the series was #222 (May 1982) which included early artwork by Marc Silvestri.[7]

The only continuing series was "Johnny Peril" which ran from issues #106-117. For issues #111-on, the titular protagonist was billed as an "adventurer of the weird". Johnny Peril would again appear in issues #200 and 205-213. Johnny Peril's roots, prior to his first appearance, came in the one-off story "Just a Story" in All-American Comics' Comic Cavalcade #15 (July 1946), by writer-artist Howard Purcell. With issue #22 (Sept. 1947), the anthological "Just a Story" series gained newspaper-reporter character Johnny Peril, who often acted as witness or narrator rather than as an integral part of the narrative. With this issue, the series title became "Johnny Peril Tells Just a Story", eventually changed to "Johnny Peril's Surprise Story" as Johnny became the series' two-fisted hero until the series ended with issue #29 (Nov. 1948). By then the character was appearing in his own backup feature in All-Star Comics, beginning #42 (Sept. 1948). Purcell remained for the first few All-Star stories, with artists Joe Kubert, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino and others later working on the feature through #57 (March 1951). Johnny went on to star in the fifth and final issue of Danger Trail (April, 1951). His last appearances before his Silver Age return in 1968 came in Sensation Comics #107-116 (Feb. 1952 - Aug. 1953; retitled Sensation Mystery f#110-116) where artists included Alex Toth and Frank Giacoia.[8]

The comic features "The Mad Mod Witch" (later known as "Fashion Thing" in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman) as a story narrator in #108-112, 114-116, 140, and 162, and "Judge Gallows" in #113, 118, 121, 125 and 133. He would also appear, years later alongside Abel and the Witches Three in #203 and 205. Judge Gallows would later appear in the final story arc of The Dreaming.

2011 one-shot[edit]

A one-shot special of The Unexpected was published by Vertigo in 2011.[9][10]

Collected editions[edit]

  • The Steve Ditko Omnibus Volume 1 includes The Unexpected #189: "Dead Man's Eyes" by Jack Oleck and Steve Ditko and The Unexpected #221: "EM the Energy Monster" by Ditko, 480 pages, September 2011, ISBN 1-4012-3111-X


  1. ^ a b The Unexpected at the Grand Comics Database
  2. ^ Coates, John (1999). "Art Index". The Art of Nick Cardy. Coates Publishing. pp. 169–170. ISBN 1-887591-22-2. 
  3. ^ Eury, Michael (July 2015). "A Look at DC's Super Specs". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (81): 28–29. 
  4. ^ DC Special Series #4 at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Romero, Max (July 2012). "I'll Buy That For a Dollar! DC Comics' Dollar Comics". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (57): 39–41. 
  6. ^ Wells, John (October 24, 1997), "'Lost' DC: The DC Implosion", Comics Buyer's Guide, Iola, Wisconsin (1249), p. 134, Following #85, The Witching Hour was merged with House of Secrets and Doorway to Nightmare in The Unexpected, beginning with #189. 
  7. ^ Pasko, Martin (w), Silvestri, Marc (p), Celardo, John (i). "Act of Contrition" The Unexpected 222 (May 1982)
  8. ^ Johnny Peril at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on March 22, 2015.
  9. ^ The Unexpected one-shot at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ "The Unexpected #1". Vertigo. October 12, 2011. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012. 

External links[edit]