I have been interested in NEW CRUSADERS for several months, but for a variety of reasons haven't yet written anything about this title on my blog. The New Crusaders are the children of the Mighty Crusaders, Archie Comics' super-heroes who've been published under a variety of brands -- currently Red Circle. The concept is pretty simple. The Mighty Crusaders seemingly vanquished all of their villains. They settled down and had kids. And then they got killed when one of the baddest villains, the Brain Emperor, returned from nowhere.
One of the cool things about NEW CRUSADERS is that it was originally published by Red Circle as a digital comic book. Unfortunately, until recently I didn't have the technology to read those digital titles. Months later, Red Circle began re-publishing NEW CRUSADERS as a print title so I've finally gotten to read the comic book -- even if I'm months behind the digital readers. In late 2012, Archie Comics and Red Circle announced that they were going to sync the digital and print copies of NEW CRUSADERS in mid-2013 so there shouldn't be a lag for us old fogies who still prefer print copies. Anyway, this digital first concept has been cool -- but it's also prevented me from giving any loving to the book on this blog.
The other issue is that the series has kind of dragged. I cannot complain too much about the characters or the stories, but it took four issues for the main characters to go from ignorant kids to committed New Crusaders. Truthfully, it should have only taken 1-2 issues. That's a problem with comics books as a whole. Why have the Avengers fight the Masters of Evil in one book when you can stretch out the conflict and eventually sell those five issues as a trade paperback. Archie Comics is usually pretty good about plowing through a story concept.
It's not that it wasn't interesting to watch the kids grieve and doubt themselves for four issues and I'm not sure what I would cut out if I were editor supreme, but I'm left wondering how many potential readers dropped the book because they'd sought out Comet, Jaguar, and Web and instead got nothing but Greg, Ivette, and Wyatt.
With all that in mind, NEW CRUSADERS #5 was a great issue and by far my favorite. The New Crusaders finally got to throw on their costumes and fight bad guys. The Brain Emperor had infiltrated a prison and freed everyone -- which initiated a prison riot. The New Crusaders' leader/mentor, the Shield, decided that it was a good opportunity for the kids to get some street credit. Meanwhile, the Brain Emperor freed several big-time super-villains and began signalling the beginning of some future chaos!
Not only that, we readers learned that three of the Mighty Crusaders had landed themselves in prison for some of their more hardcore actions as now-former super heroes. They too were released during the prison-break, so it looks like the Black Hood, Hangman, and Deadly Force (who I'd only known before as Doc Reeves) will either be helping the New Crusaders in their efforts to round up the prison rioters and/or fight back against the Brain Emperor and his team of super villains -- or maybe enough time has passed to turn these former heroes against their old Mighty Crusader allies.
We recently learned that one of the New Crusaders won't survive his or her first mission -- and, judging from future covers, it's pretty easy to figure out who is going to bite the proverbial bullet. But we also learned that the current NEW CRUSADERS series will be wrapping up in the early spring and re-launching as NEW CRUSADERS: DARK TOMORROW. I guess that's how they're going to sync the digital and print versions of the book. If we get to see even half as much action in this new series as we did in this one issue, it should be one heck of an exciting time!