Publisher: Archie Comics
Publication date: 2013

Listen up, folks! It’s time you all check out the new and resurgent RED CIRCLE COMICS.

Red Circle Comics may to not be a household name to the non-comics crowd, it’s a fair bet even your Aunt Alice has heard of Red Circle’s parent company. You know, Archie Comics? You heard me right. The Riverdale Gang and the heroes of Red Circle are really one big family. While publishing tried and true superhero fair for decades, their capes have never been as big a hit for them as Archie has been. The last time we saw a major push by Red Circle was during the 90’s boom, when DC comics licensed the characters under their IMPACT initiative.
But who are these guys, you ask? With RISE OF THE CRUSADERS, all of your questions are answered in one tidy package. While this new line is digital first, the Powers That Be provided me with a beautiful trade collection to review. They know I’m old school like that. In RISE, our story opens with a summer picnic in the all-American town of Red Circle. What’s better than a reunion of old friends, picnic style? Old friends meet and mingle and their kids rough house in the yard. No one has a care in the world.
Why? Because these old friends did it: they vanquished evil.

While it looks like the picnic is at the mayor’s house, attended by a zoologist, a chemist, the fire chief, a novelist, a homemaker, a movie star, and a journalist, the are more than that. This is a reunion of the Mighty Crusaders. And they did it. They won. Fireball, Comet, Steel Sterling, Shield, Jaguar, The Web, and Fly Girl thought they had the ultimate victory.
Until the Brain Emperor crashes their picnic, and slaughters the lot of them in cold blood. With the Shield the only veteran left alive, he gathers up the youngsters and they regroup at the Shields hidden headquarters. It’s a quick, brutal introduction to these heroes. And a smart plan, too. Instead of trying to get a new generation to care about these heroes of yesterday, writer Ian Flynn gets us emotionally invested in their kids in one issue. Contributing to the modern vibe, Ben Bates and Alitha Martinez, portray our New Crusaders with a blocky, manga inspired look.
Don’t be fooled by the light-hearted look of this book: Flynn has written a heavy story, invested with themes of legacy and responsibility. The continuing story of these New Crusaders is a story that bears returning to, again and again.
Dan Malmon