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‘Archie’s Superteens Versus Crusaders #1’ (review)

Written by Ian Flynn,
David Williams, Gary Martin
Art by Kelsey Shannon, David Williams,
Gary Martin, Jack Morelli
Published by Archie Comics
Released 6/20/18 / $3.99

 

It’s my own fault. I knew I shouldn’t have expected much from Archie’s Superteens Versus Crusaders.

It’s just that these have been some of my favorite characters for half a century and yet no one ever seems to know what to do with them!

In spite of positive expectations, this first of two issues turns out to be simply the latest example of that.

Let’s start with which versions of the characters these are in the first place. The Riverdale gang, at least, seems to be the current, semi-realistic comics versions of the past couple of years now. At least that’s how they start out.

The MLJ characters, though, seem to be the 1960s versions. This is driven home by the fact that Jughead starts his school day casually reading a copy of 1965’s Mighty Crusaders # 1.

Black Hood, the only real Crusader we even see in this issue, is the long lost yellow suited, motorcycle-riding, version. Finding himself immediately outclassed by a substitute teacher revealed as a mad scientist, who is visually almost a doppelganger of Marvel’s Red Ghost, Black Hood calls for help…only it never comes.

In fact, the only other Crusaders shown are in silhouette except for the Fox and someone who is most likely Steel Sterling. Not a one of the recognizable MLJ heroes from this issue’s front cover actually appears in the issue…nor are they identified anywhere in the book.

As for Archie and buds, at first they’re scared of what’s happening at the school, but then, on the spur of the moment, it’s revealed that they are and have apparently long been superheroes themselves—although the bad guy, referring to them as cosplayers, has apparently never heard of them.

So Pureheart, Captain Hero, Superteen, and latecomer Miss Vanity from the 1980s, tackle the villain…and immediately lose in the issue’s cliffhanger. Where’s Black Hood during all this? Who knows? He disappears after his distress call seven pages earlier.

To be fair, maybe the next issue’s second and final part will pull this all together so it at least makes some kind of sense on its own terms. The problem is that the reader who buys THIS issue with its almost generic concepts is likely to feel so cheated he or she won’t return to find out.

The artwork is credited to three names—Kelsey Shannon, David Williams, and Gary Martin, with no breakdowns as to who did what. It’s good, though. I like the art. The writing credit goes to Martin and Williams along with Ian Flynn.

The funniest gag in the whole book is a throwaway random Beatles reference on the first page and it just seems out of place. I’m sorry to say that except for some amusing dialogue along the way it’s all downhill from there.

With no background info offered on who these characters are, I’m going to assume this book is written for those who already know them, those who already like them, those who have wanted to see a book like this for decades.

In that case, as that very person, I have to say I have rarely been so disappointed in a comic book story.

 

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