Archie's NEW CRUSADERS Return For the Digital Age
Never count a super-hero out. Especially when they’ve got reinforcements.
After DC’s lackluster attempt to revamp Archie’s Red Circle heroes a few years back, Archie is bringing them home and looking to restore them to their prominence by not retelling the same old stories but looking to the future, both in the story and the way readers see it.
Announced last summer, Archie is returning to their super-hero line with an ambitious plan for a new comic series titled New Crusaders as well as bringing back the classic stories in an all inclusive digital subscription package. Scheduled to launch later this year, Archie’s Red Circle app will be the home to both new and classic Red Circle hero stories in a partnership between the publisher and iVerse Media. In addition to the new series New Crusaders, over one hundred issues of older titles will be available for a monthly subscription Archie says will be close to the cost of a regular comic.
As far as the new story goes, New Crusaders will focus on the original WW2 version of the Shield living in modern times and trying to assemble a defense when the first super-villain in decades appears. Archie has tapped two of its key creators, Ian Flynn and Ben Bates, to bring the Red Circle heroes into the modern age. Newsarama spoke with Flynn about this story and the history it covers both inside and outside of the story.
Newsarama: Ian, as you enter this new era for Red Circle heroes, I read that things have changed a lot since the !mpact era. Can you give us the lay of the land as this New Crusaders series opens?
Ian Flynn: The !mpact books don't come into play with the new series, although we're not discounting them entirely. You'll see. What we're doing is picking up where Archie's Red Circle imprint left off in the 1980s. The villains have been defeated - either imprisoned or (presumably) dead, and the heroes have settled down in civilian lives to build their families. It's all a very nice, happily ever after. Until it all goes to hell, of course.
Nrama: Of course. In the image released, we see an older-looking Shield surrounded by younger-looking heroes bearing the mantles of Red Circle stalwarts. What can you tell us about Shield and the team here?
Flynn: The Shied you see is the original - Joe Higgins, World War II vet and former FBI G-Man. He's the first, he's the best, and he always knew the day would come when heroes would be needed again. The new heroes are all connected to the veteran heroes - some direct descendants, some relatives, and some further removed. Who they are and how they factor into all this is something we'll be exploring in the first issues.
Nrama: How do you bring the heroes together to form a team?
Flynn: In this case: necessity and tragedy. There's a reason the Shield is the only veteran hero left, and the New Crusaders are going to have to pick up a lot of slack - fast.
Nrama: They’re all living in a new city that’s in fact old – you’ve created a city dubbed Red Circle, after the imprint they came from decades ago. What’s the city of Red Circle like?
Flynn: It's a little slice of Americana. It's small, quaint - the kind of place where everybody knows their neighbors. Who the founders were, and while lies below the town, would surprise most of the citizens though. The average joe doesn't know it started off as a heroes' retirement community, or that it's been built with the idea that heroes would be needed again some day.
Nrama: Along with some familiar heroes returning, we also have villains such as the Brain Emperor. For those new to the Red Circle comics, can you describe him for us?
Flynn: The Brain Emperor is classic villainy: a mutant, alien conqueror who delights in toying with the "inferior" human race. He has a wide range of powerful psychic powers that made him more than a match for the entire team in their prime. When he comes back, though, things have changed. He's changed, and his plan is much bigger than "conquer Earth."
Flynn: Yep, like I said, this picks up where Red Circle left off in the '80s. That, in turn, was connected to the stuff that came out in the '60s, and even all the way back to the '40s. We've got seventy years of continuity to play with, and I couldn't be happier.
Nrama: On your personal website you mentioned all the detail that went into New Crusaders. Can you tell us about your planning and preparation for this series?
Flynn: A lot of reading. The period we're primarily working from - the '80s material - did a great job of consolidating all the previous material. Even then, we went back to the start of it all for all sorts of information and inspiration.
From there, the team decided on which heroes would be getting updated with the new roster and how these teens would fit into the mix. How did they know the original heroes, if they knew them at all? What were their powers? What stake do they have in all this? Eventually the past material and the present plans came together, and what you get is the New Crusaders.
Nrama: How far out do you have the New Crusaders stories planned?
Flynn: We've got our first year - or "season" - mapped out with plans for all sorts of stuff beyond that. New Crusaders is just the first step to remind people how cool this franchise is, and from there we're ready to go crazy.
Nrama: You came into comics from the fan-fiction community writing Sonic The Hedgehog. What’s it like to become such a key part of Archie Comics in the past few years, and be given the chance to revive their superheroes?
Flynn: Wow, you dug that skeleton out the closet! Honestly, it's humbling to have gone from some random hobby writer to a professional. Even more-so that I've been entrusted with such an important part of the Archie brand. But they like how I write their three other action-adventure titles - Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe and Mega Man - so I must be doing something right!