The Challenge

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The Challenge
Start date: June 18th, 2012
End date: December 15th, 2012
# of strips: 156 (26 weeks)
Writer: Fred Fredericks
Artist: Fred Fredericks
Preceded by: "Melody of Doom"
Followed by: "Warlock at Large"

"The Challenge" is the 264th Mandrake daily story. The story was written and drawn by Fred Fredericks.

Plot Summary

Mandrake returns from Gironda Island, but upon arriving at the airport, he is swarmed by a group of TV reporters. Skillfully evading them, he encounters Craig, a prominent newspaper reporter. During their coffee meeting, Craig informs Mandrake that while he was on Gironda Island, a lawyer named Wembly launched numerous verbal attacks against him. Notably, one of Wembly's clients is Champ Kooner, current king of the rackets.

Back at Xanadu, Mandrake receives an update on the situation, and the chief of police calls to inform him that Wembly will be holding a press conference outside the town hall. Mandrake and Lothar decide to attend the conference to hear what he has to say.

During the press conference, Wembly severely insults Mandrake and Lothar, labeling them as vigilantes. He accuses Lothar of using brute force and Mandrake of confusing his opponents with cheap tricks. Wembly challenges them to switch roles to test if they still appear as effective crime fighters. To sweeten the deal, he offers to donate two million dollars to any charity of Mandrake's choice if he accepts the challenge. Initially, Mandrake declines, but Narda believes it would be unwise to refuse, especially since the money could greatly benefit the children's hospital fund.

Encouraged by Narda, Mandrake and Lothar accept Wembly's challenge and begin patrolling the city's darkest and most menacing streets, with Mandrake taking on the role of "the Strongman" and Lothar as "the Magician." Surprisingly, the patrol goes well for both of them.

Meanwhile, Narda grows concerned when she cannot reach Cindy Rivers, the head of the children's hospital, on the phone. Cindy's husband, the wealthy Tom Rivers, raises suspicions that Cindy might have been kidnapped.

On the final day of the challenge, Lothar discovers that Cindy Rivers has indeed been kidnapped by Champ Kooner and Wembly. Mandrake and Lothar successfully resolve the intense situation, but in doing so, they break the challenge and miss out on the two million dollars. However, Tom Rivers had announced a reward for anyone who could provide information leading to his wife's location. He intends for Mandrake to receive this reward and Mandrake graciously accepts, requesting that the reward be directed to the Children's Hospital Fund.


Recurring characters

One-time characters

  • Graig, the last of the great print reporters
  • Wembly, a Lawyer
  • Champ Kooner, current king of the rackets
  • Martha, Champ Kooner's aunt - mentioned only
  • Tiptoes, a street robber
  • Cindy Rivers, head of the Children's Hospital Fund
  • Tom Thomas B Rivers, a wealthy financier and Cindy's husband
  • Bernie, a policeman


  • New York City
    • Xanadu
    • The city hall
    • Herbie's Jokes & Novelties, a shop

Behind the scenes


  • The title for the story taken from the strip of June 23, 2012 (Beginning: The Challenge).


  • Cindy Rivers is named Linda Rivers from the strip of October 17 ond on.


This story has been published in the following publications: