Now that everyone from Kryptonian Supermen to Black Lanterns has invaded Earth, the citizens of DCU need some sense of security, and the American government intends to give it to them.
Mighty Crusaders, a new team of superheroes who work directly for the U.S. government, is getting a new ongoing series in July. Announced by DC at C2E2 in Chicago, the series is being co-written by Eric Trautmann and Brandon Jerwa with art by Julian Lopez.
Made up of the heroes who were introduced last year in The Shield and The Web, this team picks up the Red Circle heroes' stories just after those two ongoing series come to an end in June. After a Mighty Crusaders Special in May reveals how the team members meet, the new ongoing series will introduce readers to an American superhero team controlled by a government agency, with all the bureaucracy that entails.
It's all part of the story the writers have been building toward since they started writing these characters last year, when Trautmann began on The Shield with co-features by Jerwa on The Inferno and The Fox.
Now this new series will feature recurring roles by some surprise DC characters, and according to the writers, the first issue of Mighty Crusaders reveals something that plays a "cornerstone" role in the mythology of the DCU.
Newsarama spoke to the writers to find out more.
Newsarama: Eric and Brandon, who are the Mighty Crusaders? What makes this team different from other superhero teams in the DCU?
Brandon Jerwa: The Mighty Crusaders are a government sponsored superteam. There's a public relations presence around their official formation and introduction to the citizens of the DCU, and that's where we pick up the story. The team's been together for a little while, but they're making their debut as a team, in terms of the public's perception of them.
Given recent events, like what has happened with New Krypton, this team is an attempt to restore the public trust.
We're going to get to know the characters along the way. Eric will hate this, but I keep using the example of Lost, in that as we're telling our story, there will be interludes along the way that focus on each individual character. Some of these characters are brand new to the DCU. We introduce more Red Circle characters right off the bat. So while we're telling the story of this team, we're also going to be giving a little spotlight time to each individual character along the way.
Eric Trautmann: If the Justice League is the premier superteam of the DCU, and the JSA is the legacy heroes, and the Teen Titans are the heroes-in-training, and the Outsiders is, as its name implies, the outsiders, what the DCU doesn't really have is a federally controlled superteam. This is an area where there isn't anything like it in the DCU. Checkmate was back in the day, but it was more international. This is an American response.
And because it's a federal agency, it comes with all that wonderful baggage and bureaucracy. It's like, "Oh, you had to go into space to fight the giant alien mushroom? Did you keep your flight receipts?" Honest-to-God true story: When the astronauts came back from the moon, they had to fill out a Customs voucher. And that's just staggering. Our heroes will have to deal with that kind of thing. And there's a certain surreal quality to that.
Nrama: Who are the members of the team?
Trautmann: The Shield, the Comet, the Web, the Fox and the Inferno are the established players. We'll also be meeting some newly minted character, like War Eagle and Fly Girl. And there are some other Red Circle villains that we revamped.
Jerwa: And the Hangman is around, but he's not so much of a team player. So his presence will happen only when the situation requires it.
Nrama: And now that the Red Circle characters have been integrated into the DCU, do we see evidence that they're part of this larger universe with other superheroes?
Jerwa: It will be very apparent in the first issue that the Crusaders play a part in revealing a legitimate cornerstone of greater DCU mythology from the past and the future. I can't say what that is, but it's more than just hype. It really is a huge aspect of the DCU that has a lot to do with why the Crusaders exist and, for at least awhile in the outset, what their primary focus is going to revolve around.
Nrama: Will there be any established DC characters who show up as part of this organization that runs the Mighty Crusaders?
Jerwa: Yes. And what I can say is that there's a DC character who has had a cameo in one of the Red Circle books, and at the time, it probably seemed like an off-hand thing. But he'll be a key part in overseeing the team's operations. It's somebody very recognizable from the DCU, and cements their status within the world of the government and intelligence agencies and those kinds of operations.
Nrama: And who are the first villains we'll meet?
Jerwa: That can't be revealed, because it plays into the whole "cornerstone of the DCU" thing we mentioned earlier.
Nrama: When I hear you talking about a government-sponsored agency, Eric, I can't help thinking of your work with Greg Rucka on Checkmate. Is this comic like that one at all?
Trautmann: Not really, aside from a certain kind of widescreen, TV action movie approach that I tried to bring to Checkmate. There's really not a lot of real-world politics and cloak-and-dagger stuff in Mighty Crusaders. Its focus is definitely much more big action, superheroics, which is something I've been wanting to do.
Nrama: When you guys wrap up The Shield and The Web and their back-up stories, will they lead into this comic?
Trautmann: First of all, you don't have to read anything before picking up Mighty Crusaders #1. Our goal with this series is to start a new ongoing comic that people can just pick up and read, getting to know the characters right from the start.
There is a one-shot coming out in May, the Mighty Crusaders Special, that shows how all these characters first get together and meet, and it's a bit of a primer for the team. It's not necessary to read that first, but it does give you some background.
What we're trying to do with the existing individual stories is wrap them up as cleanly as possible, while still picking up elements from them for Mighty Crusaders, so people who have been reading those series can just pick up the new book and follow their favorite characters' stories.
Jerwa: New readers will be able to pick up Mighty Crusaders #1 and totally grasp what's going on. But the people who have been reading the books since day one are also going to see some pay-offs for their commitment.
Nrama: Eric, during our interview for the Mighty Crusaders one-shot, you came right out and guaranteed that this team would appear somewhere else soon. Did you know there would be an ongoing series?
Trautmann: Having the Mighty Crusaders remain together had been part of the plan all along. My editor had mentioned it to me several times. There was clearly a design in place that eventually these characters were going to get looped back together at some point.
Jerwa: And let's just conquer the elephant in the room here. Yes, The Shield and The Web have been canceled, and yes, there will be people who think that we had to just scrap all our ideas and move to Mighty Crusaders and do something new. But in truth, we are telling exactly the story that we had intended to tell all along.
Eric and I came up with this over lunch one day when we were working on Issue #2 of The Shield. So while the venue has changed slightly, and we've had to make adjustments along the way, we haven't had to compromise this story at all. It's all still here, and we're very happy we're getting the chance to tell it.
Trautmann: We started throwing subtle clues in The Shield to what we're planning. We've been threading this story into the comics in such a way that nobody would notice if we didn't finish it. But now that we're getting to tell it, people will be able to look back and realize this is what we've been building toward all along.
And the comic looks amazing. We've seen character designs from Julian Lopez and some of his interior art, and he's awesome. It definitely looks like a big DC superhero book, and that's exactly what it's going to be.