Posts Tagged ‘Jack Kirby’

King-kirby

**Last Time On Superhero Satellite**

*The 5 Year Mission of The Superhero Satellite had ended with the disbanding of the mighty Super-Blog Team Up group leaving the Captain Of The noble retro seeking wonder of the space-ways to go deep into space sleep. The Satellite itself went into hibernation mode as all systems shut down with only vital networks left open to sustain function…or so we thought! Seemingly a glitch in the Satellites operating system re-activated the main computers AI.. slowly..systems restore as we are unsure were these directives are coming from as we are only to assume it is happening as a result of the ships internal Artificial Intelligence system itsself..the Living Computer…*

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“Systems…ALIVE..Access Consciousness Of The Captain.”

Transmission Date: 08/30/2017

I still remember the store like it was yesterday. The front doors opened up to a lobby where you could go one of two directions. To your left was another door with a set of stairs that lead to one of two medical clinics in my home town of Clarenville at the time. The second door lay straight ahead and led  to the Drug store below which happened to be one my favorite comic book buying haunts..Budget Drug Mart. As you passed the main counter and all the candy, confectionary, chips and soft drinks you had to take a sharp left and just down a little ways on the right stood the old comics rack! It was actually two long book racks built on to the wall. It was always impressively filled with all sorts of my favorite magazines like Pro Wrestling Illustrated, StarLog, and Fangoria to name a few. From time to time it also sold Presto Magic transfers from those very shelves as well! I came for the comics most of the time and it would be the place I would purchase many of my most memorable keepsakes.  IT was also the very spot I bought HEX #1 and my crown jewel G.I.Joe # 2 (Which at the time was rare people!!)  just before a camping trip!! My friend lived just a couple of houses up from the Drug Store so when I came to visit with him we would ALWAYS end up at Budget Drugmart and left with some comics!! Growing up in the early 80s many of the artists I was familiar with were Neal Adams, Gene Colon, Jim Aparo, John Romita Jr, John Buscema, and  John Byrne. to name a few. I was reasonably new to the hobby but it was those artists that had already spoiled me so badly in my formative years of comics art appreciation! Each one of those names were masters of the art and each book they contributed to was a thing of beauty to 11 year old me. I was more or less unfamiliar with any comics pre 1980 at the time as back issues were not readily available in my town unless you snagged a couple at a yard sale or if a friend or relative would visit another city or country. I knew one day I would love to be a comic book artist…I wanted to draw Batman like Colon or Aparo, I wished I could have the ability to draw Green Lantern like Adams!! Bottom line…at a early age I knew what I liked and disliked in a comic book. It was never about the stories for me..it was ALWAYS about the art work! My heroes looked a certain way…and thats what I expected every time I hit the spinner rack!

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In 1984 I was not only becoming a very hardcore comic book buyer but I also boasted a great action figure collection. I had The Six Million Dollar Man figures, I also had a ton of G.I.Joe and Masters Of The Universe figures. Of course my main collectible action figure line had to be Star Wars Toys. I loved action figures and I loved comic books…that was what I did!  With that said from a small collection of Mego figures I had few Superhero toys. Sure Batman, Robin, Superman, Spider-Man and The Hulk were available for me in my home town but that was it. I had no villains..only two vehicles (The Batmobile and Spider-Car).Megos didn’t play well with the 3 3/4 action figures from Star Wars or The Joes so my superheros sat in the toy box without any love as my play adventures surrounded a galaxy far away with some Real American Heroes!! Then came Super-Powers from Kenner…at last my prayers had been answered.

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The DC Super Powers Collection boasted a host of bad guyswithi the set and when they were released in store and I was all over them!! I had Batman, Robin, Superman, Green Lantern, Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Darkseid and plenty more later on!! They featured an action motion when a body part was manipulated. To things even more exciting DC was releasing a 5 issues mini series based on the action figure line!! The Comic Book ads featured great artwork by an artist who I felt created the absolute definitive look for the DC Universe in the 80s Jose Louis Garcia Lopez! Each character was perfectly captured and the thought of a Super-Powers mini series set my heart “AFlame”. So at some point in 1984 after seeing ad after beautiful ad by Mr. Garcia Lopez my friend and I took our regular jaunt to the Drug Store and there it WAS!! Super Powers #1!! The logo looked great and the cover colors flashy …but the cover artwork was TERRIBLE!!

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There was clearly something “off”. This comic looked NOTHING like the smooth definitive versions of the DC heroes like those featured in the ads and all over every piece of DC related merchandise out there in the main stream market. I remember commenting to my friend how “Stupid” Superman looked. on that Super Powers book. I was not a fan and even though I left the store with #SuperPowers No. 1.. I did NOT return for issue two. I didn’t look at the art credits at the time as artists names were not a thing for me to be concerned with. Visually however, I knew what I liked..and at that time it WASNT Jack Kirby. What did I know?? I was only a couple of years into my comics buying routine butI would learn a lot in the coming years!

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Comics were never red-hot in my town in 1984 but a war was happening in the industry for companies to make it in the very lucrative toy market in the early 80s. The competition would not be outdone as Marvel around the same time released their own 12 issue mega event called Secret Wars. I was a staunch DC kid but suddenly Marvel had my attention. DC had won me over with their Super Powers action figures but suddenly sharing the shelf was Marvel Secret Wars toys!! Now Spiderman, Wolverine and Captain America and a host of others had a popular toy line and a full comics limited series to coincide with its release. While I despised Kirby’s rendition of the DC Heroes on the covers of Super Powers Mike Zeck powered through an amazing looking Secret Wars cross over event!!

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For a moment, Marvel hooked me. The heroes were rendered in the hot style of the day and the storyline was far superior to that of Super Powers that was clearly written to sell toys. Secret Wars was created for the same purpose but felt like a real event. That Super Powers comic affected me so much I just wanted to try something new…Marvel.

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Comics stores began to pop up in the mid 80s. I remember hearing about a gentlemen in a nearby town who boasted a great comic book collection of vintage books. It was about 45 minutes away in a small town called Lethbridge. John Butt was the personable owner of this collection that he housed in a shed behind his home and he allowed me to come in to see his collection. John was an interesting gentlemen who looked like a later day elvis in his final days and the prototypical old guy next door. He was a salesman who knew this kid was NOT leaving his clutches without dropping some cash! As a kid I bought into John’s sales pitch as he walked me through his collection calling everything a “Nice Book”. I saw first appearances of Wolverine, The Punisher, The Red Skull, tons of old western comics and classic Marvel books all of which in Johns Opinion where “Nice Books”. I saw plenty of the very early Fantastic Four and X-men books and I was in awe The comics had bombastic covers and interiors that was old school but looked so different from what was on the shelf in 1985-1986. I only brought 40 dollars with me that day and did not walk out with much of anything outside of a 1970s Captain Marvel number one and a few other books that escape my memory…but my mind kept going back to those FFs and X-Men books!! I wanted to read those books and see what the early days of Marvel were all about. The images stayed with me for many months and I only recall going back one last time for some a Marvel Treasury Edition of Star Wars!! Worth the trip right!!

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In 1985 it seemed like my 11-year-old mind was put at ease as Marvel released a history of their universe in a recap title called Marvel Saga!! It was a monthly comic that attempted to take the Marvel Universe and detail it all in Chronolgical order featuring reprinted panels from the original books. I LOVED Marvel Saga!! I waited for it to land on the spinner rack every Thursday!! I loved the vintage artwork from Steve Ditko on Spiderman, JOhn Busema on Silver Surfer…and literall Jack Kirby on EVERYTHING ELSE!! !! It would be the issues featuring The Fantastic Four and The X-Men that hooked me! I loved the early visual of the characters…in fact I began to prefer it!! Little did I know it was the SAME artist that I trashed only a year earlier for his Super Powers work. I was beginning to enjoy Jack Kirby’s work and was totally oblivious to it as an 11-year-old kid!! Kirbys work had that retro quality that I loved and had a signature appeal that I did not see in anyoe since Ditko. From the FF to the X-Men..to The Incredible Hulk to The Mighty Thor and so many more..Kirbys footprint was all over the Marvel Universe!!

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Comic shops finally started to gain ground in the Province I lived in Canada. The Capital city featured two great collectible shops (Time Masters and Sword and Steel!! Name Drop!!) but my trips to the city (2 Hours from my home town!!) were so infrequent I could not rely on them for maintaining any sense of collecting. It was great for spot issues, but not much else. Several used book stores popped up in my town that featured great selections of comics! Rodways Office Supplies was literally what it sounded like.. an office supplies store that sold photocopys and staplers but they also managed to have 8 to 10 huge long boxes of comics and seemed to mix up their variety on a semi regular basis. They had books I had not heard about or saw before like Sgt. Fury and The Howling Commandos and Nick Fury Agent Of Shield! I was at the time a  Sgt. Rock fan and was semi familiar with Nick Fury from then modern 80s so Fury and his Howling Commandos were a sure grab for me!

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Around this time Machine Man had gone through numerous series and reboots that as usual were always promptly cancelled. I loved that character! Hence I managed to nab several issues of 2001 with Machine Mans early beginnings from the Rodways catacombs. He didn’t look like the Machine Man that I had recently bought off the racks by Ditko…whose version was loose and frankly a little sloppy..Ditkos Machine Man moved on the page like Spider-Man instead of a robot that he was. Barry Windsor Smiths version in the 80s Machine Man mini series looked a little too “man-like” and not robotic in nature. Dont get me wrong..the Machine Man Mini series was great but the art in that issue too didnt look “Machine” enough like I wanted my Machine Man to look. Kirby’s Machine Man felt properly alien as it should. Kirby was always sure to surround him with other worldly technology unlike anything drawn by other artists. No one did Machine Man like Kirby.

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As I read them I saw that familiar art and style..and something in me was drawn to that. I was raised on George Perez and Jim Aparo who had a more “realistic” style while Kirby had his own thing happening. Highly visual..very otherworldly detailed!! Sgt. Fury the same thing. While Kuberts Sgt. Rock was a very somber dramatic style to Sgt. Rock as it was about war after all…Kirby gave Fury a more lively feel! It was fun, bombastic and full of life. Bullets and action jumped off the page. Very stylilized…very high energy art..both Fury and Machine Man shared Jack Kirby as their artist. It was here I fully began to recognize and appreciate the style. I could decipher Kirby’s work from everybody else now. Now I looked for it! It became a hunt for me..and a very fun one!

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By 1987 my Comics passion was at an all time high. In my teenage mind I considered myself a serious collector. I was buying higher priced comics, 1st appearances, Gold Key books, and classic books and what ever Overstreet Price Guide told me was a “Hot” book I tried to  hunted down. I felt like I knew my stuff. I knew for example that a “Frank Miller Daredevil” with the Death Of Electra was a “hot book”…and how much it was worth in various cycles of condition. Yep this comics kid was becoming John Butt level comics savant at the age of 13!! Now I knew who Jack Kirby was..as I explored what my dream list of comics would be, Kirbys name was attached to almost all of em. Fantastic Four, Avengers, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk..all Kirby!! His name was attached to so many books..

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There were elements of his work that no one else could properly duplicate…at least at the time. The first thing that hits me about a Kirby work was his use of hands..his characters are always reaching for something..and you know what..it looks damn cool!! His characters jumped off the cover page at you!! Everyone jumped…everyone leaped..there was movement at every stroke!! Bodies contorted to portray the full swing of a punch, the throwing of a shield, or the swinging of a hammer

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Kirby created universes..landscapes..worlds that could only come from his imagination. His World Building is something he took with him no matter what company he worked for. His work on Marvel properties like The Silver Surfer, Thor and The Inhumans stretched the boundaries of what alien environments looked like visually. Large elaborate worlds bursting at the seems with bright visuals, extremely detailed robust costuming, backgrounds and staggering technology that only Kirby could depict!

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There is no way to put it in words Kirby’s use of detail. The level of detail he CREATED was over an above what everyone else did at the time. A simple computer or gun was excessively detailed and visually breathtaking!!Kirby Machinery

His use of costuming was on another level. He added detail so foreign and so elaborate many artists could not even imagine it..let alone put it on paper!!

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He built universes outside of the regular Marvel and DC Universe’s all his own that other artists and writers stayed away from by in large. Kirby’s vision of what space looked like and what alien planets, people and technology were visualized as was so very organic! In comparison it felt that when other artists created things.. Kirby was always a million years beyond them. Concepts like The Inhumans and the birth of Marvel Cosmic is all Jack Kirby. Kirbys forray into DC Comics after his well documented fall out with Marvel also allowed him to build a brand new foundation all to its own with characters like the New Gods and The Forever People..all high concept work that few outside of Kirby would dare touch!!

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DC would designate a full pocket of their universe to Kirby affectionately known as the Fourth World where luminaries like The New Gods, Mr. Miracle, The Forever People, Darkseid and literally millions of others resided. Kirby had his own world to play in and because of the stroke that he had in the business he was given a blank cavas to work from.

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Many of these properties are still in use today with Marvels Inhumans television series about to debut very soon! The Marvel cinematic universe is filled with Jack Kirby created concepts and making billions for Marvel and Disney to this very moment. Kirby’s legacy is everywhere in pop culture and its hard to deny that his title as King Kirby is surely the fitting crown.

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So as I flash back to 1984 at Budget Drug Mart as I hastily cast dispersions on the cover art for that Super-Powers book…this is my apology letter to the architect of comic books that I hold so dear. Thank You Jack Kirby… for creating my childhood…ALL HAIL THE KING!!

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End Transmission….

Creation

**ASSUMING CONSCIOUSNESS**

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END OF LINE…

More #Kirby100 Fun continues with my favorite bloggers on the web!:

Satellite Ends

Comic Reviews by Walt
Between the Pages
Coffee and Comics Podcast
In My Not So Humble Opinion
Chris Is On Infinite Earths

The Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu

Fantastic Four #1 Review

 

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Trading comics as a kid was an art form. In a sense it was the earliest form of childhood poker, you had to know when to hold em and know when to fold em. In my own mind I felt I was a pretty good shark in this game.I was one of a few of my friends that had a coveted Overstreet Price Guide which allowed me a savants wisdom when giving the true value of my comics and of that of the individuals of which I was about to trade with.My trading selection was my usual fare of 80s DC titles but in the opposite corner my cousin who I was trading with had an unusual treasure on his side of the bed which doubled as our trading stand. It was an issue of The Fly a title I had never heard of! The publisher was Archie of all things but how could this be, this was a Superhero Title!! I glanced over the cover trying not to look directly at the book or even look interested in it but it was screaming to me..I had to have this book! So as the trades went on the regular fare was exchanging hands I swapped some Batman for some Firestorm, and Blue Devil but I still wanted that Fly issue. Not wanting to show my hand I asked him was there any other title in my pile he was interested in and fortunately there was. So I went for the kill…his selection was valued at meager 5 bucks in the Overstreet bible so I told him I would trade it for a Green Lantern Book …and throw in that Fly book just to even out the dollar amount!

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I tossed his requested book to his side of the bed and collected The Green Lantern issue and reached to get the issue of The Fly only to be shut down..His hand stopped cold over the top of the issue blocking my collecting hand from making it officially mine. My cousin told me a story of his recent vacation in Maine to which he picked up this “Rare” book and that book was not going up for trade! I internally panicked…then it dawned on me I could use the Overstreet Guide to show that the trade was a good value. As I thumbed through the pages I found the Fly #1 and it was worth $1 …Cover Price!! Practically worthless in 1984! Surely he would bend knowing that this book was a lump of coal in his collection but to me it secretly was a diamond! He didnt budge…he was on to me. This book was from the U.S.A.!! This wasnt available in small town Clarenville Newfoundland..this was from the United States Of America which carried a great deal of cache back in the day! I came out on the losing end of the trade that day as I gave up one of my coveted Blue Devil issues and god knows what else to claim this issue of the Fly..I know I had been duped but in the end I came away with what I wanted so it was short term pain.

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The glorious Steranko cover art and beautiful interiors this issue of The Fly was a revelation! My god there existed life outside of Marvel and DC!! Now I felt relatively in sync with the comics industry and bought many publishers like Charlton, Harvey, and Archie I thought I knew it all there was to know. How did I miss the existence of  The Red Circle imprint Aka The Archie Adventure Series I began sifting through the ads inside and my Overstreet Price Guide to find out what titles existed and there were a ton of them. I eventually discovered that these characters were around since the Golden Age!! This was prior to the era of the internet kids..it was not as simple as a google search!!

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The characters were pure Golden Age! Names like The Shield, The Fly, The Comet, The Black Hood, The Jaguar, and The Web were fascinating to me! Not only was this my first introduction to them but they seemed like an elusive mystery to me and the fact that their recent (80s!!) adventures could not be purchased on the comic spinner racks in my home town only heightened my interest! In fact the characters were so steeped in comics lore that their first appearances dated back as far as 1940!

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In the pages of Pep Comics #1 exploded a very familiar looking character The Shield!! This United States patriotic character was one of the first of his kind and pre-dated our generations super patriot Captain America! Created by Irv Novick (Artist) and Harry Shorten (Writer) The Shield was born of the times and World War 2 fascination. Amazingly this would also be the first appearance of another one of the soon to be Mighty Crusaders The Comet in a single issue!!

Around the same time in Oct 1940 also debuted The Black Hood in Top Notch Comics #9. The Black Hood was an interesting character. The character would be played by a number of individuals who would take up the notion of vigilante justice after each previous Hood would either die.. or pass on the mantel of the hood to the next individual. The Hood itself would be “cursed” as nearly all its wearers would die passing it like a proverbial torch to another bearer. The “hood ” itself went from a stereotypical heroic cowl style of mask to a full on executioners hood. The Hood was the one character in the Crusaders who would “Cross The Line” into killing his opponents in the name of justice. Interestingly when the Red Circle brand resurfaced in the early 80s the Black Hood would be the character that would regress the most costume wise while other Crusaders sported updated flashy modern costumes. The Black Hood would debut on a Motorcycle in biker leathers and a tight leather “Mugger” mask.

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Later that year in 1940 creators Joe Simon and Jack “King” Kirby famously created a character strikingly similar to The Shield, the one and only Captain America. Fortunately  this was not the era of expensive lawsuits so Cap would go on to mega fame unscathed by class action lawsuits! Clearly they had an eye on what MLJ was doing as they went on to create a Crusader themselves.. The Fly!! He 1st appeared in the late 50s making his full debut in Adventures Of The Fly #1 in 1959.

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The Fly had a very appealing design that in no coincidence looked very much like Blue Beetle in design. The individual that would wear the Fly suit was  Capital Cities crack lawyer Tommy Troy. Tommy  was able to fly, communicate with insects via his telepathic abilities, use size manipulation among others. By night Tommy became the Fly, fighting the criminal underbelly of Capital City!  He also frequently had his own female counterpart like many in the day.. Fly-Girl! He was also a hero similar to the Blue Beetle (Charlton’s Steve Ditko version of Beetle… Ted Kord) in that he has sizable Eye bubbles and they share a gun which many heroes did not during the 70’s and 80’s especially. The Archie run of the Fly is one of the best MLJ hero books they pubished as Ditko took the reigns in the titles last half (Issues 5-8) of publication for Archie and made The Fly a damaged defamed  Hero on the run! Great stuff kids you need to track down the 9 issue run which was a lot of fun under Archie’s Red Circle imprint!!

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They were then joined by The Web in 1942 created by John Cassone for MLJ. This college criminology professor turned superhero turned his investigative skills into a crime fighting career. Using his College smarts he was able to profile and defeat criminals for the sheer enjoyment of one upping the criminal element. The Web was a character  whose creators gave the unusual spin of being one of the first comic characters who essentially was a domesticated superhero that was for all intents and purposes was  “Whipped”. The key trait to this and following versions would be his married life impacting the way he performed as a hero. Upon discovering that her husband was running around stopping crime in spandex John finally succumbs to the marital pressures and retires leaving a life of crime fighting to deal with the battles of home life!

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The next incarnation of The Web is the one I am most familiar with as the original webs son John Raymond Jr. returned to comics in Fly-Man #36 under most famously Superman’s Co-Creator Jerry Siegel. Humourously the concept of the steroetypical “Nagging Wife” would return but went a step further. As John took on the criminal underbelly as the Web his wife would unbeknownst to him would don a super suit as Pow-Girl and join him on his exploits without revealing her identity to him!! Fortunately this version of the Web would drop all the silver age silliness and this Web would re-debut in the 80s under Archie’s Red Circle banner and would become my favorite of all the Mighty Crusaders!

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The Shield, The Web, The Fly, Fly Girl , The Comet, The Jaguar, and The Black Hood and many others during various incarnations of the group would all Unite under one collective Super Powered group known as The Mighty Crusaders! Archie seemed to have nailed the Superhero concept or at least had great clay to work from with the MLJ Characters!  I loved every issue I uncovered. It didnt matter the condition wether they were torn, stained, or even coverless I just wanted my Red Circle comics!!

Mighty Crusaders Cover Gallery?? Okay..we got you covered!! Computer…load Archie Adventure Series Red Circle Mighty Crusaders!!

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Its no secret that I was a fan of action figures as is well  documented on this blog..when my old nemesis Remco would adapt the Crusaders into Action figure form. Check out my previous article on DC’s Warlord figures also notoriously by Remco. The company did not have a history of making “Quality” toys instead they relied on working from established concepts popular at the time and doing something “Similar”. Yes if He-man was popular Remco created the line of “Conan” or “Warlord” figures which were not coincidentally clones of the He-Man toyline. LJN Struck gold with their WWF license to create Professional Wrestling figures and Remco went with AWA Mat Mania figures. This time Mego was red hot with this Worlds Greatest Heroes SuperHero figure line and low and behold… Remco grabbed the semi obscure Mighty Crusaders action figures!

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Remco created eight figures in total and had an equal roster of good guys and bad guys..4 on each side to be exact! the line up were as below!

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  • The Comet. Prior to Marvels X-Man, Cyclops there was the Comet..that visor is something multiple characters would come to rip off!!

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  • The Fox. A cool design and character. The Fox was always one of the coolest heroes from the Archie Adventure line and was their answer to Black Panther / Batman..but not as interesting as either.

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  • The Shield. Its Captain Ameri…no wait..its the Shield. Even though this character may have influenced multiple American based heroes later in comics history he is still the single greatest design of the Crusaders!

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  • The Web. Always loved the Web!! Loved the color scheme and Web cape! I gurantee you , One year soon on Halloween you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be the Web..

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  • The Brain Emperor. The bad guys were very uninspired as is the case with the poorly designed Brain Emperor. Alan Moore himself would not have been able to save this Mort and his goons!

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  • The Buzzard. Every universe has their “Bird” villain..they also managed to snatch all the cool bird names. With The Falcon and The Vulture we get the sinister Buzzard!! Doesnt work at all does it??

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  • The Eraser. Despite the very cool double bandolier, the only thing the Eraser “erased” were several plates of cheeseburgers..That said.. he is the happiest villain I have ever seen!

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  • The Sting. By god Remco loved their skull faced villains!! In the era of Masters Of The Universe and the patriarch of the Skull Face.. Skeletor…is the reason why we allow jabronies like Sting to exist. That said..as a kid, Skull faces ruled and chances are this would have been my first bad-guy if I had a choice If I know “kid me” well enough!

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The comic ads got me so excited to get my hands on these great looking toys. Remco to their defense always got some of the best artists to design their comic book ads as well as their packaging! With Remco’s Sgt. Rock for example Remco scored the legendary Joe Kubert to draft their in comic ads as well as figure packaging!!

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They would score again with the great Steve Ditko taking the reigns with the Crusaders!! Ditko drew the wonderful ads that baited me originally and scored the packaging on the toys as well!! The problem however was the product that was delivered. The figures themselves had a certain charm but upon further inspection they were woefully impractical. There was something very weird about their hip structure. Their legs appeared shorter, almost baby like on some figures giving them a very odd look visually. As well, Remco..stealing a page out of Marvels Secret Wars toys, each toy came with a shield? I am still wondering what the fascination with the shield as a accessory was in the day?? That said with all their quirks and 80s weirdness The Crusaders were a win for this Hero!!

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The Heroes themselves were pretty well designed. I would kill for a Web figure! The Shield looked great with vibrant colors and I even gave his shield a pass.I had no idea who the Fox was but the figure was excellent. The Comet however was a comedy of errors. Not only did he come with a Shield but he also came with a bandolier and gun!!? This Comet was packin heat folks!! These toys were amazingly rare in my hometown. The odd figure would appear in a toy box or two in my travels to friends houses but no one I knew had the “set” or even a significant amount enough to say the collected them.

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The amount of Mighty Crusaders merchandise on the market though small by today’s standards, was surprising for a franchise many people today outside of retro fanatics (Like myself and many of the folks reading this post!) whom may never had heard of the property. One of the coolest items was the rare Mighty Crusaders Board Game! It sported a very heroic box art! The fun didnt stop there as the Crusaders were splashed all over the typical fare of the era such as water guns, disc saucer guns, walkie talkies, things that today would be considered dollar store toys! *Merchandise photos are all compliments of our friends at one of my all time favorite Retro sites  Plaid Stallions visit them and enjoy their absolute wealth of nostalgic riches!!

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I was however disappointed to find that there was no Mighty Crusaders Doctor Kit which was a trope in the dollar toy industry that every franchise took advantage of. Missed opportunity? However not to be disappointed we did get  very cool Crusader stunt cycles and parachute figures!

With a property that seemed so viable with several comics series, and plenty of merchandise to go with it how is it that the majority of the  World do not remember the MLJ characters? How is it that these characters are not household names? Well as fond of memories as I have for these characters , comics and merchandise the fact is that the line did not get over with the masses. The direct market format for Archie’s Adventure line went against the mass media publication market like they did with their digests and floppys sold at anywhere magazines were sold to a more niche distribution which hurt the line. Would we be telling a different story had the Archie Adventure Line been as readily available as Archie’s Digest series on every Supermarket Shelf? I feel they would have. The same goes for the toyline. Remco was a decent toymaker that sadly did not have the deep international penetration of Kenner or Mattel as a result many never even knew The Crusaders ever existed on a toy shelf. So both the comics and the toys suffered from limits on distribution but still manged to deliver a competitive product certainly comparable with the toyfare of the time.

The Archie Adventure Series came out of the gate roaring. Many forget that Archie Comics lured some of the industries most acclaimed artists in the business including Jack “King” Kirby, Steve Ditko , Jim Steranko just to name a few to work on these books!Would it be enough with the comics industry on the verge of the big comics boom of the 1990s?? Archie brought multiple titles to comics shelves and the world opened their doors once again to the classic MLJ hero universe!!

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My personal favorite of the lot was The All New Adventures Of The Mighty Crusaders that lasted 13 issues. See The Cover Gallery above kids for this one! This title came second place for the longest run of issues in the line and was probably the most action packed of all the titles as it featured all Crusaders and even some new ones in a full on team book.

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Blue Ribbon Comics 1-14 This one was a rehash of the old MLJ series from 1939 of the same name which was essentially a anthology series which told new stories from alternating characters in the universe. This edition from the Archie Adventure series was the longest lasting title in the line! It alternated stories of the Mighty Crusaders individual exploits. Mostly it featured The Fly and The Black Hood. The Art was probably the best of all series in the line and featured purposely an alternating roster of creative talent including Kirby, Ditko, Buckler, to name a few!

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The Fly 1-9 My favorite of the solo books! The Fly featured beautiful Steranko Covers as featured above as well as interior art from one of comics masters Steve Ditko for the last issues of the series. The adventures of the fly were very standard comics fare with one and done villain of the week stories that were wrapped up in a neat bow by the end of twenty something pages just how I loved it as a kid!

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Lancelot Strong: The Shield. This book had an identity crisis. It began as Lancelot Strong the Shield for issues 1-2 , Then changed into The Shield Steel Sterling for issue 3 before switching altogether into just simply Steel Sterling for its final 4 issues of its existence beginning with issue 5. It also had the dubious distinction of sharing two brands as well. It began under the imprint Red Circle before switching out to just the Archie Adventure Series on the 5th issue that also marked the final title change.Steel Sterling was a basic solo Adventure series which served a a bridge between the old MLJ universe and the new Archiverse.

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Steel Sterling (Previously Lancelot Strong for issues 1-3) Switches to Steel Sterling with issues 4-7.This title was the ugly step-child of the group in that it was the one title that seemed to change every issue and lacked direction and consistency. As individual issues this title was okay ..as a collected work Steel Sterling was a tough road to hoe!

shield

The Original Shield was another short lived title that ran 4 issues that served as the origin story of the Original Shield. This title mirrored closest early era Captain America as The Shield battled Nazi’s all the while being a super patriot.Ironically he did NOT have a shield when it counted!! The title was much better than the newer incarnation of the Shield as well had so great Dick Ayres artwork. Worth a look!

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As it would come to pass.. The Archie Adventure line was a failure and all things Mighty Crusaders disappeared from comic spinner racks, and toy shelves. By 1985 the MLJ Heroes were resigned to long boxes in the quarter bins of the 80s basement dwelling comics shops and the bottoms of toy-boxes…and that was the final breathe for this classic group of heroes…UNTIL..

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In 1991…The Archie Adventure Series Heroes were all re-imagined under comics super power DC Comics to form their brand new imprint IMPACT!

But THAT friends..is a story for another day…TO BE CONTINUED…

Transmission Ended..

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