Archie’s superhero line, sometimes called “Red Circle,” has been revived several times since the characters were created in the 1940s. First by Archie in the 1960s. Then again by Archie in the early 80s. DC revived those same heroes as the Impact imprint in the early 1990s and then had another go with them in 2010-11. Now Archie is bringing the characters back in-house and launching them as a digital-only property.
Red Circle will once again be the name of the superhero line, but this time it will also be the name of digital comics app the heroes will be published through, separate from the Archie Comics app. “New Crusaders,” a new generation of the classic “Mighty Crusaders” will be the flagship title, written by Ian Flynn and illustrated by Ben Bates.
“We're launching in spring of this year, with a double-sized season opener,” explains New Crusaders editor, Paul Kaminski. “Episodes will premiere monthly, with each episode of the new Crusaders series broken into 4 acts released about once one a week. Subscribers will have access to all new content as it becomes available, along with the backlog of Mighty Crusaders stories that will enhance the experience of New Crusaders.”
This is not the first comic Archie has launched in digital format. The first was Jinx, which updated and aged the ‘Lil Jinx character, much as New Crusaders will be updated with a new generation of heroes added. Kaminski likens the digital comics experience to “being on the ground floor of iTunes for music, or Hulu for TV.” He also has a shared digital philosophy for the two projects: “Keep the bar high and continue to push the medium.”
For many, the most interesting aspect of the Red Circle launch is how soon it follows DC’s most recent attempt to launch these heroes as a line of licensed comics. While the 1990s version did have some initial success, the 2010-11 version was nearly stillborn, despite the presence of A-list writer J. Michael Straczynski. There was a 17 year resting of the characters between DC’s two runs. There’s scarcely a year past between DC and the Archies Red Circle.
“For Archie, these Red Circle characters are like family,” Kaminski offers. “We care about them a great deal, particularly because we know what they are capable of achieving if presented in the right way. I've said it before, but DC handled our characters like an average super hero title—and that's what they set out to do. There's nothing wrong with the average super hero comics, but we here at Archie know that they have the potential to be anything but average.”