Thursday, May 14, 2009

Super-Powered Web: The Red Circle

I mentioned DC’s new blog, The Source yesterday and it has been a font of interesting preview images over the last few weeks, but none have interested me more than the images from the upcoming Red Circle project. For those who don’t know, this project will revive a whole bunch of defunct Archie (back when it was still called MLJ) superheroes. And I for one am a huge fan of the characters from Archie’s superhero line. One of the first line of books I really tried to collect was the Impact line that DC produced in the early nineties. They felt like characters aimed straight at tween readers like myself, modern despite a sixty year history behind some of them. I was more than devastated when the line discontinued less than two years later. Outside a couple appearances in Archie’s Weird Mysteries, the characters have remained dormant for nearly twenty years until now. The blog gave us images to look at of the revamped characters all designed by J.G. Jones (of Final Crisis and the far superior Shi: Black, White, and Red fame) and drawn for the J. Michael Straczynski-penned series by Jesus Saiz. My thoughts on the initial four characters:

Not much can be said about the redesigned Shield. The costume was pretty iconic from the get-go, and neither artist did much to tweak it. Gone is the armored look of the Impact version. Hopefully the anti-military storytelling of that version will be gone as well. It just didn’t hold true to every previous version of the character.

I am not overly familiar with the Silver Age version of the Web other than a few reprints of Fly stories that gave little detail about the character. His costume was pretty dated however, and this redesign integrates the color scheme and style while updating it to a more modern look. I still agree with the Impact Comics concept for the series better though, as The Web works better as a organization name than an individual hero.

I think the Hangman is probably the weakest redesign. While the late 40’s Hangman had far too generic a superhero costume for the name, I think this look goes too far in the other direction. He looks like an actual hangman with a cape added on. Not a lot of innovation there, but maybe I am just partial to the Impact version.

I cannot really comment much on the redesign of Inferno. A golden age character with no silver age or Impact era variation that I can find, he does definitely look like he might fit in to the reformed villain concept of the original. I would have preferred Fireball, the member of the Crusaders with a just plain awesome costume.

So while I am wary of where The Red Circle is going to take some of my favorite heroes, I am definitely looking forward to its premiere later this year. Hopefully this time the Archie/MLJ heroes can stick around a whole lot longer!

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