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American Crusader, from Thrilling Comics #22.
America's Best Comics
|First appearance||Thrilling Comics #19|
|Alter ego||Archibald "Archie" Masters|
|Team affiliations||(AC Comics) Sentinels of Justice
|Abilities||Super strength and speed
Invulnerability to bullets
Electromagnetic pulse generation
The American Crusader is a fictional character, a superhero who originally appeared in Thrilling Comics #19 (Better Publications, 1941). The character was revived in the Modern Age in Femforce #59, by AC Comics, and in Tom Strong #11, by Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse.
The character debuted in 1941, his mousy alter-ego being similar to that of Superman's Clark Kent identity. He accidentally got caught in a room with a device called an atom smasher, and, inevitably, the experiment went awry. Instead of killing him, the accident blasted him with radiation, which endowed him with various superhuman abilities. He used these powers to fight crime as the American Crusader.
Prof. Masters had a secretary named Jane Peters. The Crusader had a teen sidekick named Mickey Martin.
The Crusader appeared in the following titles in the Golden Age:
- America's Best Comics #6
- Thrilling Comics #19-35, 37-39, 41
The American Crusader, along with other heroes from Nedor Comics, was revived by AC Comics through the Vault of Heroes, a suspended animation program for superheroes. He later joined the Sentinels of Justice.
America's Best Comics
The American Crusader, along with other heroes from Nedor Comics, was revived by Alan Moore in his series Tom Strong. This revival set the characters on a parallel world called Terra Obscura, which was also the title of the resulting mini-series.
The Crusader apparently (from a Terra Obscura continuity standpoint) operated as a superhero until 1969, when, on a mission to stop an alien from converting Earth into a spaceship, he was imprisoned in an alien restraining device which Tom Strong imagined to be a heavily localized time-loop. This bubble kept him in suspended animation until he was freed in 2000 by Strong and his fellow SMASH member, Tom Strange.
Described by Strong as "probably the first nuclear science-hero", he is "possibly even more powerful than Tom Strange."
Within the Terra Obscura continuity, he is an alcoholic, currently seeking help for his addiction. He operates with the modern incarnation of SMASH.
Living Legends and Tales of the Living Legends
The American Crusader made a brief appearance in the prose story Living Legends, published by Metahuman Press. A flashback comic story featuring rescripted pages over the public domain comic work has also been published as part of the Tales of the Living Legends webcomic.
The American Crusader appears in the mini-series Project Superpowers, by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger. He is kept imprisoned and unconscious by a totalitarian government, and clones called Crusaders are created from his DNA to function as super-powered soldiers.
In the related Black Terror series, the Black Terror finds Archie and helps him to lure the Crusaders and destroy them, using the last of Archie's energy in the process. The Crusaders all die, and an African-American soldier named Marcus Chamberlain, who was with Archie and the Terror at the last moment, gains the power and becomes the new American Crusader.
Archibald Masters, the American Crusader, appears as a center character in the ongoing webcomic Heroes Inc., created in 2009 by Scott E. Austin. The webcomic takes place in an alternate reality where the allies of World War II lost the war. In present day, the American Crusader gathers DNA from Golden Age heroes in order to create a new generation of heroes.
A version of the character was used in the Multiversity series, where he was the leaders of superteam on a parallel Earth, called the Retaliators (a reference to Captain America and his Avengers). A second version of the character is killed at the beginning of the story to raise the stakes, and the character is shown on the cover of a comic read by a character during the story.
Powers and abilities
The American Crusader is capable of flight, superhuman strength, invulnerability to bullets, and electromagnetic pulse generation. The full extent of his powers at this time is unknown.