Red Circle Comics

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This article is about the Archive/MLJ comic book imprint. For the Pulp magazine, book publisher and Timely Comics imprint related to Marvel Comics. see: Red Circle (publishing).
Red Circle Comics
Parent company Archie Comics Publications, Inc.
Founded 2012 (current incarnation)
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Mamaroneck, New York
Key people Paul Kaminski
(Executive Director of Editorial)
Mike Pellerito
(President of Archie Comics)
Jim "Ski" Sokolowski (Senior VP of Sales and Marketing)[1]
Publication types Comics
Fiction genres superhero fiction
Official website

Red Circle Comics is an imprint used by Archie Comics Publications, Inc. to publish non-Archie characters, especially their superheroes, in the 1970s and '80s and currently as a digital imprint.

The term "Red Circle characters" is also used to refer to Archie Comics' superheroes.[2] These characters were previously published when Archie Comics was MLJ Magazines then published under various Archie imprints: Archie Adventure Series, Mighty Comics Group, Red Circle Comics and Red Circle Comics digital imprint (2012). After a first attempt with the Red Circle characters in the 1990s under Impact Comics, DC Comics also called their Archie/MLJ superheroes line Red Circle, in their attempt to integrate them into the DC Universe in 2007 to 2011.

Publication history[edit]

MLJ Magazine[edit]

MLJ's first comic book published in November 1939 was Blue Ribbon Comics with the first half full color and the last half in red and white tints. In January 1940, Pep Comics debuted with the Shield, the first USA patriotic comic book hero, created by writer and managing editor Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick. Top Notch Comics was launched in December 1941. The cover feature of Pep was the Shield until March 1944, when Archie took over the cover. The Shield was a forerunner of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Captain America, being published 14 months earlier.[3][4] MLJ's Golden Age heroes also included the Black Hood, who also appeared in pulp magazines[5][6] and a radio show;[6][7] and The Wizard, who shared a title with the Shield.[8]

The Shield and The Hangman shared the cover with Archie with Pep Comics issue 36 (February, 1943). Archie increasingly was given the cover until issue #51 (August, 1944), when he took over the cover permanently.[9] The Archie character soon dominated MLJ publications, pushing out the superheroes and having MLJ Magazine renamed after him.[3]

Archie Adventure Series[edit]

Archie's Silver Age relaunch of its superheroes under the Archie Adventure Series line began with a new version of the Shield and two new characters, The Jaguar and The Fly.[10] Following DC's lead, Archie introduced a new Shield in a June 1959 release, The Double Life of Private Strong #1, by creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.[11] Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were the creators of The Fly introduced also in Private Strong #1[1] and spun off into the character's own title, Adventures of The Fly, two months later. DC Comics lawyers citing similarity to Superman forced Archie Comics to stop publishing Private Strong after two issues.[11]

Mighty Comics[edit]

The Mighty Comics Group imprint took over the Adventure titles in the mid-1960s as general imitation of Marvel and the Batman TV show camp; Jerry Siegel was brought in to be the imprint's main writer. The shift to the Mighty imprint soon brought the company its first super hero team book (similar to Marvel's Avengers), the Mighty Crusaders. The Wizard and the Hangman moved from being heroes during their MLJ run to being recurring villains. In the Mighty Crusaders issue 4 most of the old MLJ heroes made a cameo appearance. After a year of bimonthly issues the title was canceled, along with the rest of the line, by 1967.[10][12]

Red Circle Comics[edit]

Red Circle Comics was launched in the late 1970s as a fantasy/horror imprint but switched over to superheroes in the 1980s.[10]

The line was first used to publish Chilling Adventures in Sorcery in October 1973, which for its first two issues was called Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as told by Sabrina. With the third issue, the title was renamed and published under Red Circle Comics.[13] The name was based on the previous business that Michael Silberkleit’s father had with Martin Goodman, with Gray Morrow as editor. With issue number 6 it was renamed Red Circle Sorcery and lasted until issue number 11 (Feb. 1975). Red Circle published one issue of The Super Cops (based on the movie of the same name) in July 1974. Shortly thereafter, Mad House (a re-title of Mad House Glads) would also be published under the Red Circle Comics line starting with issue number 95 (Sept. 1974). This would end after number 97 (January 1975), when the title reverted to being a standard Archie humor title.[14]

In 1978 and 1979, Archie published two digests collecting their superhero materials from the 1960s. The first was titled Archie's Super Hero Special. The second issue was titled Archie's Super Hero Comic Digest Magazine, and is notable for publishing the previously unpublished revamp of the Black Hood done by Gray Morrow and Neal Adams.[14] There was nothing on their covers to indicate they were Red Circle titles; only the interior indicia indicated the publisher.

In the 1980s, Archie made a more concerted effort to reuse their superheroes. The first appearance was in JC Comics's JCP Features number 1, in December 1981, which reprinted the new Black Hood materials that appeared in Archie Super Hero Comic Digest Magazine #2.[citation needed] In March 1983, the first issue of Mighty Crusaders appeared, which led to many new titles under the Red Circle Comics banner.[14] With the February 1984 issues, this line had been renamed the Archie Adventure Series.[citation needed] By September 1985, the entire line had been canceled.[12]

Spectrum Comics[edit]

This article is about the Archie Comics imprint. For the comics publisher based in Bristol, Connecticut, see Spectrum Comics.

Archie planned to begin publishing superheroes again in the late 1980s with an imprint called Spectrum Comics, featuring a number of high-profile talents, including Steve Englehart, Jim Valentino, Marv Wolfman, Michael Bair, Kelley Jones, and Rob Liefeld. Planned Spectrum titles included The Fly, The Fox, Hangman, Jaguar, Mister Justice, and The Shield. Ultimately, Archie cancelled Spectrum Comics before publishing a single issue.[15]

DC Comics licensing[edit]

Impact Comics[edit]

DC Comics licensed the Red Circle characters and revamped them for publishing under the Impact Comics imprint from 1991 to 1992. This attempt also included a super team, called simply "The Crusaders".[2][10] The stories in the line were part of their own shared universe.[16]

Red Circle line[edit]

Ian Flynn, Alitha Martinez and Ryan Jampole at a September 8, 2012 signing for New Crusaders No. 1 at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.

DC was granted the license to the Red Circle characters in 2008. DC planned to inject the characters into the DC Universe and tapped writer J. Michael Straczynski.[17] The line folded in late 2010.[18] In July 2011, it was revealed that DC no longer had the rights to them.[19]

Digital imprint Red Circle[edit]

Archie Comics announced at the New York Comic Con in October 2011 that its superhero line will return as an all-digital line under a subscription model with back issues archive access.[20] This was announced as the Red Circle line starting with the New Crusader comic in 2012.[21] The Red Circle Comics app provides readers access to a new chapter of the New Crusaders comic, as well as the Red Circle library of comics from the previous 70 years for a 99 cent weekly subscription price.[1]

In 2012, New Crusaders was followed up with Lost Crusade: Prelude, a free one-shot focusing on the lives of the original Mighty Crusaders which debuted on August 29 through the Red Circle Comics app at Ian Flynn had pitched the idea as "I was really excited by all the prospective stories to be told between the end of the '80s series and our relaunch... There were so many open endings when the '80s era series wrapped up that it's hard to choose. What happened to Darkling? Who was the traitor? Did Black Hood figure it out, or just make things worse? Did anyone mourn Doc Reeves? There's tons of stories and characters to explore, and it's honestly hard to choose." The first arc of New Crusaders was also printed.[22]

Chuck Dixon was announced as writing the second story arc of Lost Crusade[23] and New Crusaders: Dark Tomorrow was announced for May 2013,[24] but neither would come out.

A five-issue The Fox miniseries by Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel ran in autumn 2013, with The Shield back-up strips by J.M. DeMattias[25] (who'd co-write Fox #5 instead of Waid).

Dark Circle Comics[edit]

In July 2014, Archie Comics announced that the Red Circle Comics imprint is being relauched as Dark Circle Comics in early 2015 with the past continuity removed. Tales will be self contained 5 issue arc stories in ongoing title while skipping for trade collections.[26] The Fox title from the digital Red Circle line would continue while The Shield and The Black Hood would be new title upon launch of the line.[27]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Renaud, Jeffrey (October 30, 2008). "JMS Gets Brave & Bold with Archie Gang". Comic Book Resources.
  2. ^ a b Arrant, Chris (April 29, 2009). "Completing the Red Circle: Talking to JMS". Newsarama. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Offenberger, Rik (March 1, 2003). "Publisher Profile: Archie Comics". Borderline (19). Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Shield". An International Catalogue of Superheroes. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Pulps. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  6. ^ a b The Black Hood. International Catalogue of Superheroes
  7. ^ Radio. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  8. ^ Shield-Wizard Comics. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  9. ^ Donald D. Markstein. The Shield — G-Man Extraordinary. Toonopedia. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d Markstein, Don. "ARCHIE (MLJ) COMICS". Don Markstein. Archived from the original on April 13, 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Donald D. Markstein. The Shield. Toonopedia.
  12. ^ a b Donald D. Markstein. Mighty Crusaders. Toonopedia.
  13. ^ Donald D. Markstein. Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Toonopedia.
  14. ^ a b c Gilbert, Jonathan A. The Groovy Age: Mystery Days at Riverdale High. The Groovy Age. Reposted at Mighty Crusader Network. Accessed May 22, 2013.
  15. ^ "Archie Comics Scraps Spectrum Comics Imprint". 'The Comics Journal' (131): 5–7. September 1989. 
  16. ^ "JMS Circles the DC Universe in Red". Comic Book Resources. March 26, 2009
  17. ^ Armitage, Hugh (August 25, 2009). "DC integrates 'Red Circle' heroes". Digital Spy. Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  18. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (December 15, 2010). "Closing the RED CIRCLE: Bidding Adieu To MIGHTY CRUSADERS". Newsarama. Retrieved June 11, 2013. 
  19. ^ Langshaw, Mark (July 20, 2011). "'Red Circle' rights no longer held by DC". Digital Spy. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  20. ^ Gustines, George Gene (October 10, 2011). "For Archie Comics, a Return to Superheroes". New York Times. p. B5. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  21. ^ Phegley, Kiel (October 12, 2011). "Inside the Red Circle with Archie's "New Crusaders"". Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  22. ^ Phegley, Kiel (August 29, 2012). "Ian Flynn Launches Red Circle's 'Lost Crusade'". Comic Book Resources.
  23. ^ Comic Book Resources: "CCI EXCLUSIVE: Chuck Dixon Joins Red Circle's "Lost Crusade""
  24. ^ Robot 6: "Jon Goldwater discusses 2012 and what lies ahead for Archie Comics"
  25. ^ Comic Book Resources: "Waid & Haspiel Bring "The Fox" Into Archie's Red Circle"
  26. ^ Truitt, Brian (July 10, 2014). "Archie to launch Dark Circle superhero line in 2015". USA Today. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  27. ^ Truitt, Brian (July 17, 2014). "Heroic trio powers new Dark Circle Comics lineup". USA Today. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 

External links[edit]