Friday, January 14, 2011
Over the past year and a half, DC Comics has attempted to revitalize the concept of Archie's superhero properties by modernizing them. In essence, they did the same thing in 1985 when the then-defunct Charlton Comics sold their small stable of superheroes to DC, inserting them fictionally into their one world before folding them into a central Earth following the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
As a result, such heroes as Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and the Question... and to a lesser extent others such as Sarge, Nightshade and Thunderbolt... received a renaissance in their characterization and status. That said, most of them fell by the wayside over the years, to be dusted off then trotted out to become the fodder for the next major crossover. See, they were not the core creations of DC, so this made them valuable not for their legendary status... which was minimal at best... but for their value as expendable items for a publisher daring to push the envelope ever further. And so, aside from momentary animated spotlights such as Captain Atom in Justice League Unlimited and the Blue Beetles in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, these distinctly different dudes debuting from Derby never truly reached the pulp culture consciousness of the public at large.
And so, we reconsider what lasting impact the newest incarnation of the Mighty Crusaders will have, aside from the meager readership that picked up their solo and team titles. Zilch, nada, none whatsoever. Because they were licensed and not outright purchased from Archie, such characters as the Shield, Web, Inferno, Fly Girl and so forth were only hinted at as existing in the DC Universe proper. Think about it, having these characters featured prominently in other mainstream titles would then cause the publisher a dilemma if those same titles were then reprinted later on, since the license would by then probably lapse and DC would have to pay a considerable fee to the rights for these characters. Hence, they were setup to fail, and will default back to their originator where they will languish aside from an annual appearance of a few of their number in an Archie title, where America's Turbulent Teens meet the Crusaders once more.
Which fate is worse? To have your characters sacrificial lambs for mega-events, or to have them in comic book limbo where their existence is marginalized at best?
Such is the dilemma for these characters loved by you and I...