The Mighty Crusaders #1 (Dark Circle Comics)

CREDIT: Dark Circle Comics

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
) By Fans who Love Comics for Fans who Love Comics


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6 Responses to The Mighty Crusaders #1 (Dark Circle Comics)

  1. I just read this last night and I enjoyed it. I will be back, mostly because I have always been fond of the characters. It was good in my opinion, but not great.

    • I find it kind of odd that they spent time branding “Dark Circle” as more mature then do a 180 degree turn and put out something not in that mold.

      But Archie has been having real challenges meeting any kind of schedule and maintaining consistent production on their comics that stray outside the core “teen Archie gang”.

      I was really excited about this stuff when they 1st started doing it in 2015, but their inability to put stuff out on a regular basis really killed my excitement. They are the perfect candidates for “wait for the trade” since they really can’t seem to do the floppies to a schedule.

      – Bob

      • Yeah, I totally agree. I get really excited whenever an issue of Sabrina comes out, but they are so far and few between, I wish they would just bank four or more issues to they can be released in a more timely manner. I enjoyed Black Hood and The Hangman was decent and I would like to see more, but scheduling is everything and it almost makes me want to stay away. Almost.

  2. I love Sabrina too, but it comes out slow because writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa spends most of his time doing TV projects.
    Sabrina is getting a TV show now (based on the comic), so I would not hold my breath for a bunch of Sabrina comics. I think the season of TV we get in the next year will far exceed the total quantity of comics ever produced.
    Archie has hit on a good business model….put out a minimal amount of comics content while using that as a pitch to sell it as a TV show. There’s far more $$ in TV.

  3. Thanks for this review Shawn as I am a huge fan of the MLJ superheroes. As for why Archie seems to have abandoned the darker tone they adopted back in 2015 with the creation of Dark Circle, it may come down to economics. Though all the titles were awesome, only Black Hood lasted a significant amount of time with two “seasons”. The Shield, though boasting a great creative team, only lasted four issues. So this reboot could come down to this: the “dark” stuff wasn’t selling.
    Secondly, I think it’s due to Ian Flynn’s presence, as his “New Crusaders” back in 2012 had about the same tone and art style as this new iteration. It’s interesting that he was nice enough to pick up the Chuck Wendig/Adam Christopher-created Victoria Adams Shield, which is nice for the fans.
    Since Flynn is so good at longform storytelling and world-building, I’d love to see this last more than a year, but if it doesn’t sell, how is that going to happen.

    • I think it could very well be that the “Dark” stuff was not selling….though I think Archie’s inability to put the books out on a regular schedule had to be a contributing factor to their failure. Putting out 3 or 4 issues a year is no way to build a readership.

      The other thing is that if the “Dark” experiment failed, just kill it. Get rid of the “Dark Circle” brand and go back to “Red Circle” for more hopeful all ages books.

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