Rating: 3.5/5 – Relaunching the Crusaders…Again?
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Just how many times have the Crusaders been reintroduced or re-launched? It seems as though every few years there’s a new Crusaders book, usually published by Archie Comics, but by some other publishers as well. It all started back in the 1940s when MLJ Comics was publishing superhero comics starring the Shield, Black Hood and more. During the Silver Age, these characters were relaunched with some new characters like the Fly, and then again in the 1960s with the Mighty Comics imprint where the Crusaders as a team first appeared to compete with the Avengers and Justice League.
Since then, they were licensed by DC and published under the Impact Comics imprint in the 1990s, and again by DC in 2008. Archie Comics got them back and attempted to relaunch the characters with a digital imprint in 2011, before officially relaunching as a print series again in 2014. Got all that? I may be missing some relaunch efforts, but these characters have never really caught on, although I’ve personally enjoyed some of the mini-series Archie has been publishing with these characters these past few years like The Shield, Black Hood, and Hangman. These mini-series definitely had a more mature feel and it seemed as though that was the tone Dark Circle was going for, but surprisingly this first issue of the Mighty Crusaders doesn’t have that feel at all.
In a story by writer Ian Flynn with art by Kelsey Shannon, this issue does a really nice job of introducing new characters to the Crusaders. The Shield, Jaguar, the Comet and more are introduced through a multi-page fight with Dino Rex. Flynn gives us the origin of the characters acknowledging their long history while moving the story forward by assembling this new team. The art is bright and cartoon-like which works for the tone of this story, but really differs from the other Dark Circle series mentioned above. I would be comfortable giving this issue to my nine year old, so in a way it seems out of place with what’s come before from this imprint. This seems to be targeted as an “All Ages” book, or perhaps is specifically targeting younger readers, but it also gives the Dark Circle imprint a schizophrenic feel when taking The Shield, Black Hood, and Hangman into account. Maybe going back to “Red Circle” for an all ages book may have been a good idea.
If you’ve never read any comics with these characters, you may enjoy this first issue as it is fun, solidly written and has some stand out art. But it failed to hook me and make me want to read more, especially since it feels disconnected from what I’ve read just a couple years ago from the Dark Circle imprint. So it is not that there was anything particularly wrong here, it was just a drastic change in direction from what I had come to expect from Dark Circle. I hope this series lasts longer than it has in the past and it finds the right audience of younger readers. Unfortunately, I won’t be back to find out.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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