Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Team-Up Tuesdays: The Mole Within the Crusaders

While recounting the history of the Mighty Crusaders, from their last published appearance until the present day wherein the Brain Emperor had seemingly destroyed most of them, Dusty told his old friend Roy about the insidious Captain Kold. As now no more than a puppet team within a larger governmental organization, the Crusaders lost their autonomy and were reduced to a super-powered police unit dispatched towards such adversaries as Omega 8, themselves the tools sent forth by the mysterious Delta 3 criminal triad. However, something much more devious was in play that threatened the integrity of the Mighty heroes! A mole!
 
Yes, a mole planted within the Crusaders with the intent of funneling information about the teams activities and then manipulating it from within! As shown, a division quickly formed leading to 9 of the 10 members picking a side. Web, Fly Girl, Fireball and Steel Sterling supported Shield's stance that they keep the status quo, while Fox, Comet, Jaguar joined Black Hood's cause to flush out the mole and root out any influence from outside their team. Notice who was missing? Thomas Troy aka the Fly, himself recently the subject of a criminal proceeding that stripped him of his career, his friends, his reputation.
 
Although he was vindicated in the end, thanks in part due to the Shield's support, this perhaps caused a rift between himself and his fellow Crusaders. After Fly Girl gave birth to his daughter, Troy left the country and moved to Japan, possible due to his role in Captain Kold's scheme if in fact he was the mole. And so, leaving behind his costumed career for a new start, Troy forsook his alter ego as the Winged Warrior. What role he will play in the future in unknown.
 
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The Fly's counterpart on another world, the Blue Beetle always did work best alone although his friendships with his fellow superheroes such as Captain Atom remained solid for decades to come.
 
 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Fiends: Brains Behind the Braun


During the resurgence of superheroes in the early 1980s, leading to the reformation of the Mighty Crusaders, wasn't happenstance. The alien Brain Emperor had reemerged from his seclusion set on conquering his adopted world, with the goal of one day using it as his base of power to control the entire universe... including his home world he was exiled from so long ago. However, knowing that the threat remained of metahumans, such as himself, who could forestall his schemes... he initiated a long term plan whereby he recruited a number of fellow felons. Some costumed, some not, yet all troublesome thorns in the sides of those who opposed him.
 
However, there was an even greater threat to the Crusaders, one of their own who was a mole planted amidst their group to undermine it from within. Who would this threat be? While at this time it hasn't been revealed, visual clues in our next Team-Up Tuesdays may reveal his identity.
 
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Nothing this overt occurred on the parallel Earth where the Sentinels of Justice operated, as Doctor Spectro had largely been erased from the equation through his various battles with arch-foe Captain Atom, and hence never had the opportunity to effect change as had the Emperor.
 
 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Whatever Happened to? Bob Phantom?

When Kelly Brand was sent from the Shield's Crusader Circle headquarters to a floating space station, she met its loyal protector Bob Phantom. Bob was a teleporting hero from World War II who worked alongside the Shield and others, before disappearing for decades as he was recruited into the governmental agency that would become MLJ led by Dustin Simmons. It was hear, in the transdimensional void protecting Earth-MLJ from various extra-terrestrial threats, that Bob also guarded devices which would replicate the abilities of Fly-Girl for her daughter, Kelly, who would assume her mantle as one of the New Crusaders.
 
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The dimensional plane of Earth-Four, home of the Charlton heroes, is much more obscured following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and so the Phantom's doppleganger's fate is undetermined at this time.
 
 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Whatever Happened to? The Boy Buddies?

One of the greatest mysteries on Earth-MLJ, home of the Mighty Crusaders, is what became of the Boy Buddies. Who were they? The Dynamic Duo of Dusty the Boy Detective and Roy the original Super-Boy, who themselves were the teenage sidekicks of two of their world's greatest heroes, the Shield and the Wizard respectively. Each was an orphan, who were taken under the protective care of Joe Higgins and Blane Whitney, inventive individuals that devised techniques granting them invulnerability and other powers beyond those of mortal men. And so, Dustin Simmons and Roy Rossman followed their mentors' example both side-by-side with their foster dads and together with one another, becoming life long best buddies.
 
Still, when a new wave of heroes debuted decades after World War II when these titanic teenaged played the part of mystery men, both Dusty and Roy were missing. For Roy, it was simply due to the Wizard's turn to villainy, or at least one who had usurped his identity when Whitney vanished from the public eye for a time. Meanwhile, the loss of the Shield to the malevolent machinations of the Eraser... transforming the costumed crusader into an immobile statue for several years... caused Dusty to leave behind his colorful costume and assume a different crime crusading role. Although the Shield would one day be revived by his own fleshly son, who for a time assumed his mantle, Dusty remained a missing person until he finally revealed himself as the head of MLJ, the Military Logistics and Jurisdiction Bureau, which monitored meta-human activities and provided the needed support for the Mighty Crusaders in their greatest hour of need. At  least, up until that point!
 
So when, after a decade of peace had been usurped by the reemergence of the Brain Emperor who seemingly eliminated the Crusaders, the heroic team's offspring remained behind. Saved by the Shield who adopted the six young lads and ladies, Dusty and Roy latter reappeared to lend support to the aspiring teen team in the making who would become... the New Crusaders!

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While on Earth-Four, Tiger would assume a mentor role similar to that of Dusty, only several years early... which led to the creation of the heroine known as Nightshade! Alas, Tiger's path would eventually lead to a darker place, consumed by jealously over never attaining the citizenship of his foster father Judomaster's home company, and so becoming a supervillain himself for a time!.

 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Charlton vs Mighty MLJ... the Next Generation Arrives!

Our two favorite parallel planets return to debut the next generation of superhumans! What are in store for these hidden gems of universes? Who are the nefarious villains who instigate a return of their respective worlds' greatest heroes of their time? And how have the current crop of caped crusaders come to be? This we shall dissect in the weeks and months that follow, faithfully fearless readers!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Charlton vs Mighty MLJ: DCU Style

 
As previously mentioned, in a previous composite reality that has since been wiped clean by another cosmic crisis in the DC Comics universe, the merging of several parallel planets led to the incorporation of the Mighty Crusaders of Earth-MLJ and the Action-Heroes of Earth-Four, twin teams originating in Archie and Charlton Comics. As such, although the concepts were still there at their core, they were radically revised to incorporate modern sensibilities and to water down their impact on their world.
The reason for the former was that, for instance, having a guy known as the Web simply being a criminologist wasn't enough... he had to be a blending of Tony Stark/Peter Parker, and similarly with Captain Atom... he needed to ditch the conventional costumes of his silver age incarnations for a shiny skin and sassy style. And the reason for the latter is that this world already had their premier superhero team, the Justice League, and their original team of mystery men, the Justice Society. These guys couldn't outshine DC's finest of the past and present, so they both were made into essentially G-Men working as federal agents when the need arose, which was seldom it seemed. For the original Shield and Captain Atom, that worked since they were government agents as it was and in their own worlds they had plenty to do, setting the tone for their fellow fabulous folk to follow. Sadly but logically, neither the Crusaders nor the Sentinels of Justice could get much traction in this scenario.

Thankfully, with a new DCU now in existence this sad state has been wiped clean, at least for the Crusaders who return to their native world to pickup where they left off welcoming in a new generation of heroes... who look to them as their "Justice League" or "Society". If only the good Captain and his costumed crew could say the same, since they remain on a world not their own and one that will never treat them as they should be treated. However, glimmers of Earth-Four where the Sentinels of Justice operated can still be found through the Multiverse!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Charlton vs Avengers vs Mighty MLJ


The Avengers weren't the first... as in a superhero team movie. The X-Men franchise and the Watchmen movie had glimmers of this concept perculating throughout their various tales. However, the Avengers cemented how divergent heroes can unite for a common cause with nothing bonding them save for equal parts tenacity and talent. Not a mutant-tie nor a mystery-tie... but the true tie that binds... heroism in the face on indominable odds. While we can dream that Charlton's Action-Heroes and Archie's Mighty Crusaders may someday grace the silver screen with their presence, nothing can match what transpired when Marvel Comics' Sensational Sextet saved their world!

As for a battle between this triad of terrific teams:
  • Black Widow takes fellow female agent Nightshade, while Fly Girl would aptly avoid her web.
  • Thor would overwhelm Son of Vulcan and Jaguar, despite their might, given his experience.
  • Iron Man would more than match the equally tech-savy Peacemaker and Comet... combined!
  • Hulk's gamma-irradiated strength would overwhelm Captain Atom and Lancelet Strong.
  • Hawkeye would have the jump on the keen-eyed Blue Beetle and Fly, if only for the moment.
  • Captain America would have difficulty with Shield but not so much with Judomaster.
  • Oh, and Nick Fury would laugh in the face of Peter Cannon and the Web... "ant... boot"!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mighty Morphin' Hair: In Riverdale and Sunuria

Panel One: Betty's hair all up in a ponytail. Panel Two: Betty with the same ponytail, but now morphed more hair unclipped!
Sunurian women channeled their inner rocky mountain ram during their morning grooming. Lotta hairspray, huh?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Team-Up Tuesdays: Originals or Derivatives???

Above: Excellent cover by Alex Wright. Below: Sarge's Sentinels
File this away in the "what if" folder for our Crusaders and Sentinels. Comprising the "other" publishers during the successful silver age of comics, both the Archie-heroes and Action-Heroes attempted to find a niche for themselves. Without sustained success.

For the Crusaders, the quickly devolved into a derivative more mimicing Marvel's Avengers, and to some extent DC's golden age All-Stars of the Justice Society. Despite having several characters that were the first in respective manners during comic's golden age and some potential promise in their newer crop of characters, Radio/Archie leaned heavily upon what worked for others instead of what would separate them as special.

For the Action-Heroes during their pre-Sentinels days, they were truly original and their tales were at times unique. Yet the dramatic departure of their plot elements and narrative style became a bit to impalatable for the young readers they were trying to entice. As a result, they folded almost as quickly as they had first appeared.

When both were reinvented in the 1980's, the Crusaders and the new Sentinels of Justice once more fell into form as "Justice League" and "Avengers" wannabes, even moreso than they had been decades earlier. Only when both were acquired by DC Comics were they given the opportunity to fully depart from the "team" template of the "Big 2" publishers, leading to substantial runs for their individual members. Ironic!



Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Crusaders VS Before Watchmen: Femmes!

Laurie Juspeczyk was a legacy heroine, following the footsteps of her mother, the original Silk Spectre. While adopting her alter ego and senses of style, she deviated in her own sensibilities which led her into a romance with Doctor Manhattan, against her mother's wishes. How would that relationship develop given the Doctor's metamorphic nature, as he had become more than human, will no doubt be dissected in Before Watchmen.

In a similar vein, a new Fly-Girl debuts in the city of Red Circle, and like the original Kimberly Brand, she takes to the sky adept in her awesome abilities. Would love come to influence this young maiden as well, and if so, who would capture her heart? Since there seems to be no Fly-Man on the horizon, would it be the jock Steel Sterling Jr, who could match her muscle? The brainy Web, who could match her interest in all things insect? The hothead Fireball, who could match her interest in a "bad boy"? The noble Comet, who could do the exact opposite to that of Fireball... and keep up with her in mid-air? Interesting developments are on the horizon...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Crusaders VS Before Watchmen: Bestial!


Who watches the Watchmen, Before Watchmen were in vogue? We will find out as DC Comics launches this cast of Charlton-homage characters back into the spotlight. And amongst the headliners will be Nite-Owl, aka affluent inventor Daniel Dreiberg, who utlizied his love for birds and gadgets to supplement his true love of superheroics. Adopting the alter ego of his hero, the original Nite-Owl, Dreiberg had a modest career alongside his fellow costumed Crimebusters.

Another legacy hero is that of Evette, a young women taken under the wing of the original Jaguar in his zoologist Ralph Hardy identity, who ultimately steps out of the shadows and into the light as his heir-apparent. Considering that Jaguar had his own Rescue Squad which included three lovely ladies who each adored Hardy's alter ego, specifically one known as Cat-Girl, it seems natural that another would gravitate towards the swashbuckling hero and join the New Crusaders.

What we learn of Evette after her heroic debut, and of Daniel Before Watchmen, will be interesting tales told in the months ahead...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Crusaders VS Before Watchmen: Brains!

A meeting of the minds between these two mentalists would be magnificent! The new Web is cut from a similar mode to that of his father, who was himself the second man with that alter ego, although unlike his pop John Raymond this lad isn't a henpecked husband. And hence, he would be able to obtain the full potential first unleashed by granddad the criminologist turned crimefighter of the 1940's. 
However, there is seemingly no comparison to Ozymandias, who was himself a one-and-only child prodigy who distanced himself from his own successful parents. When Adrian Veidt grew to maturity and assumed the identity of his alter ego, he realized that having the peak physical and mental condition amongst his fellow humans was insufficient to the task at hand... of saving the world. Before Watchmen, he was an erstwhile member of the shortlived Crimebusters, until he realized he must strike it on his own to acheive his amoral ends. Will the young Web fall into the same trap that had befallen Ozymandias, or will he lean heavily upon his comrades on the New Crusaders?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Crusaders VS Before Watchmen: Power!

The tragic tale of Doctor Manhattan is the stuff of legends. Jonathan Osterman was a scientist in love, and that love left him with more... and less... than he had bargained for. Trapped in an intrinsic field experiment test chamber while he tried to retrieve a watch for his girlfriend Janey, which vaporizes then reconstitutes him into something much more than human. He would be the Paragon of Power amongst he colleagues in the Crimebusters superhero group.


And now, stepping into the void left behind by another scientist known as John Dickerson is his adopted son, who is describe as a "nobler" spirit than that of his mentor... yet possessing the same awe-inspiring array of abilities. How will this young man blend in with his more down-to-Earth comrades of the New Crusaders will be determined in the weeks and months to come. As will how the good Doctor on a parallel planet to the Comet carved out his own unique niche through the decades.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Crusaders VS Before Watchmen: Intro!

So we have the sequel and the prequel. The warm-up and the wind-down. Well maybe not quite that, but definitely two bookends to twin fantastic franchises forgotten by fickle fandom. While we have considered the quite possible downside of Archie's new reimagination of their Crusader concept and DC's of the Charlton characters, there is another upside to also consider, in all fairness. 

Consider that the Charlton homage that turned into a literary classic, the Watchmen, is being reconsidered from the groundup... or rather, from the missing pieces left to fit the grand puzzle together that was the 12-issue maxi-series from the 80's. Although this may not go well, it is more promising than DC's take on the originals from Charlton, given that only Captain Atom seems viable at this point and only in a radically redundant role. After all, another "nuclear man" or Man of Tomorrow-wannabe is all Atom seems capable of being portrayed as at the House that Superman built.

As for the "New" Crusaders, they may be able to capture something that failed to ignite with their progentiors, filling in a niche with the youth market that the silver age crop never could. Seriously, if the actual "Archie" crop of creators lent a hand like they seem to be now, they would find a way to manuever their myriads of mystery men into the minds of meandering middle-schoolers. Consider, Archie has been able to carve a serious niche for themselves based on a sixty-year love triangle, what could they do with such a diverse crop of cool cats as the Crusaders?

This bares further investigation, which rest assured we shall do, in the months to come...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Team-Up Tuesdays: Sentinels VS Society

Charlton had an inordinate number of "street-level" superheroes, i.e. non-powered costumed crusaders. The only ones that had demonstrative superhuman attributes during the silver age "Action-Heroes" era was Captain Atom and Nightshade. Nevertheless, these individuals harkened back to the 1940's Justice Society of America, which also had several "normal" members amongst their ranks. How would these twin teams compare in a head-to-head matchup? Let's see:

  • Sandman vs Peacemaker - Two helmeted heroes with non-lethal guns designed to immobilize their foes. Armed with tremendous wealth, inventive minds and true tenacity. Howeve, Peacemaker had more technology on his side. Advantage: Peacemaker.
  • Doctor Mid-Nite vs Blue Beetle - Each man wore special goggles, devised special guns (Doc's cryotuber and Blue's bb-gun), distorted vision (Doc's blackout bombs and Blue's flare gun), and had "fauna" for sidekicks (Doc's Hooty the Owl and Blue's Bug). Both athletic and inventive, the Bug vehicle tips the balance devisely here. Advantage: Blue Beetle.
  • Starman vs Captain Atom - Energy-weilding avengers, harnessing cosmic radiation unabling them to manipulate fundamental forces. In a matchup, both would fare well in battle, however Starman depends on his Cosmic Rod to empower him while the Captain possessed his superpowers due to his accidental origin. Advantage: Captain Atom.
  • The Atom vs the Question - Fierce fist-fighters, charging into battle unreservedly showing the depth of their courage and conviction. Question can talk a mean blue-streak on philosophy and so forth, however when atomically powered the Atom's superstrength and "atomic punch" makes him hard to beat in this head-to-head. Advantage: The Atom.
  • Mister Terrific vs Peter Cannon...Thunderbolt - The Man of 1000 Talents versus another man of 1000 Talents. Physical, psychological, tactical, intellectual... these gamely clad crusaders would have the most epic of confrontations. Advantage: Toss Up.
  • Wildcat vs Judomaster - The heavy weight champion of the world and the judo master of the world. Fists and feets a-flying. Random rage against methodic might. If this thing went more than a couple rounds, and it would... Advantage: Wildcat.
  • Black Canary vs Nightshade (neither shown) - The fine fighting femmes are skilled in multiple disciplines in the martial arts. Each came equipped with various gadgets as well. However, Nightshade is able to phase into shadows. Advantage: Black Canary.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Charlton/MLJ Before and After: Fly Girls

Kimberly Brand is one fly girl who, also, happens to be The Fly-Girl. Whether wearing blonde hair or as a brunette, she definitely dressed to impress in her sleek green and yellow superheroine suit. While her classic leotards definitely echoes standard silver age costumes of her peers, the latter Brand wore a different brand with bold tints of her primary color and very strange googles with a garish skull-cap. We prefer the original to the new, although the new had some potential from the neck down.



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Charlton/MLJ Before and After: The Shades

My oh my how Ms. Eve Eden has been reinvented since her initial debut. From the rather odd mini-skirt style that anchored her firmly in the 1960's, she has been transformed into a 20th century Shadow Lass (of the Legion of Super-Heroes), although with the exact opposite skin color. And a little Huntress/Catwoman thing going on with her mask. Not much of an improvement, although at least the "goggle mask" went away. Whew!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Charlton/MLJ Before and After: The Shield

From the Shield's initial appearence in the 1940s, a similar style debuted with the 1960s rendition of the character, although the colors were inverted and Lancelot Strong had a more traditional superhero stylized suit. When the original Shield's son appeared and, years later, his father Joe Higgins, we once more saw the more unorthodox gloves and boots. And no "outer underwear". Now that a new Shield is heralding a new era of Crusaders, the golden age Shield now seems to be wearing a uniform that is a collision of both styles, in a bulky and unweildy uniform! Yuck.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Charlton/MLJ Before and After: The Atoms

How Captain Atom has changed through the years. From being a superpowered soldier in clad classic silver age costumes, he would be reinvented in a modern era with a nice silvery "containment" suit that expanded the initial silver sleeves to his entire body. The new appearence definitely an upgrade over the original, all sentiments aside.




Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Team-Up Tuesdays: Crusaders VS Invaders


This would be an epic matchup. Consider the following duels between the Crusaders and Invaders:

  • The heat-generating android Human Torch versus circus fire-breather Inferno (not show). The latter took on Steel just as Torch does in the picture. Advantage: Human Torch.
  • Two elemental men in Blue Diamond (not shown) versus Steel Sterling. Superstrong and invulnerable, each was a paragon of potent power. Advantage: Steel Sterling.
  • High-flying Miss America versus the bird-handler Captain Flag, considering the lady had strength as well she'd take out Flag's pet eagle Yank. Advantage: Miss America.
  • The Vision aka Aarkus versus Mister Justice: Although Aarkus could control temperature, illusions and teleport... Justice could  do that and more. Advantage: Mister Justice.
  • The Whizzer versus Bob Phantom (not shown): A superspeedster versus a master teleporter. Whizzer was quite fast, but Bob was as fast as thought! Advantage: Bob Phantom.
  • Sub-Mariner versus the Wizard (not shown): His world's first mutant, the Mariner would meet his match with the mastermind turned man of might. Advantage: the Wizard.
  • Union Jack (not shown) versus Black Jack: Two mighty fine fighters, nevertheless the Battling Brit has the edge with his superhuman lighting powers. Advantage: Union Jack.
  • Bucky versus Dusty: The supreme sidekicks of the super-soldiers. In the golden age: As the Boy Detective, Dusty takes this. As a retcon secret agent, Bucky. Advantage: Toss Up.
  • The Destroyer (not shown) versus the Web: Both the pinnacles of human perfection, matching physical attributes with tactical minds and great courage. Advantage: Toss Up.
  • The Patriot (not show) versus the Hangman: Non-powered but superbly talented second-tier mystery men, the former an optimist and the latter a pessimist. Advantage: Patriot.
  • Captain America versus the Shield: Here would be the epic battle of ages. Two twin titans. As his superstrong self, Advantage: the Shield. If he is non-powered, Advantage: Captain America.