The mightiest of crusaders, excluding this website of course, are back with this new book from Archie Comics superhero imprint, Dark Circle Comics.
The premise of the book is quite simple; back in the day there was The Shield, who protected the good ole US of A from the Axis and organised crime. As more and more super powered folk appeared on the scene, The Shield formed the Crusaders, which in time morphed in to the New Crusaders. Now following something of a shellacking from the Emperor Brain the team is reformed, with a mix of old and new members, lead by a new Shield. Whilst the new team are getting their hands wet, a greater danger lurks across the world with the imminent rise of a powerful evil!
Ian Flynn is writer that totally encapsulates what it means to work for Archie. What I mean by this is that looking over his resume, it is filled with the tails of a speedy little hedgehog with a fascination for shiny things. Its light-hearted and whimsy at best; at worst it is trite an in today’s dark on dark, event led, character persecutions may mean that Flynn might be a just a tad out his depth. If you are a fan of the latter, then give this book a wide berth, as its heart is firmly on its kevlar sleeve. For everyone else, this issue is like a throwback to the old Avengers and Justice League of America comics that I used to read as a kid. The introduction of a PR company that tracks the team may be ways to bring them more up to date, though this sort of media attention never seems to work out. The action scene works well enough, with the dialogue between the old and the new Shield probably being the strongest part of the book as they discuss teamwork, the introduction of old friends as well as the reasoning for the inclusion of others. The villain of the piece is a total hamo-saurus, in a moustaches twirling sneering kind of way.
The art is by Kelsey Shannon who is an artist that I haven’t seen a lot of. If her art in this book is anything to go by, I can understand the reason why. Her cartoony, easy style is not something that I would automatically gravitate towards. Yet here, the simple lines, reminiscent of Mike Parobeck, is the perfect foil for the more simplistic of story elements. I will say that some of here figure work can come across as two-dimensional, but this could be remedied through the use of better camera angles. Shannon’s work, very much like the whole project, has an air of homage; take the Web for example, could he look any more like a Ditko Peter Parker? If I am honest, the homages start at the cover which I am sure that long time comic book fans will recognise. Matt Herms provides the colors that doesn’t try to do too much. It is what it is and there is a likeable sense of honesty about it.
This is the sort of book that you would want your kid to pick up. Clear good guys, clear bad guys and no ambiguity, told in an easy-going way. However, there are a couple of problems for Archie; firstly, despite being kid friendly the characters are not well-known and as such they may find it hard to compete with the Justice League or Avengers. The second is that whilst this style may well be kid friendly, there isn’t quite enough cleverness to engage older readers. Hopefully, Archie Comics can find their audience for what is really a decent little team book.
Writing – 3.5 Stars
Art- 3 Stars
Colors – 3 Stars
Written by; Ian Flynn
Art by; Kelsey Shannon
Colors by Matt Herms
Published by; Dark Circle Comics (Archie Comics)