April 9, 2005
Thoughts on a Mighty Crusaders book
The Team As Picked by Trev:
[The Web | The Black Hood | The Fly | Flygirl | The Shield | Steel Sterling| Jaguar| The Comet ]
The ultimate plan is to write and draw a fanfic comic featuring The Mighty Crusaders. This is all very preliminary right now. I havenít read the Red Circle/Archie books since the 80s and Iíve never read most of the Mighty books. Iím only started exploring the Golden Age stuff now, so everything Iím writing here will be subject to changes and inspirations I find as I these books start coming in.
The Web is a hero with no super-powers. Unlike The Black Hood, heís also not had any extraordinary and/or weird sensei to teach him. I figure in a straight fight, heís good against normal opponents, but the Black Hood would pummel him. Itís kinda like the Blue Beetle vs. Batman. Beetleís good, but Batmanís gonna wreck him. In the MLJ universe, The Black Hood is Batman.
The Webís motivation is watching his criminal brother get caught in a web of his own making Ė the crook didnít take into account the consequences of all his actions, nor did he pay attention to what was occurring around him. Not realizing the ramifications of all the little details, the crook got caught.
That inspired our hero to become The Web. Heís not a guy with an arachnid-based theme, heís all about noticing and manipulating all the little details. To me, that makes him perfect to be the Oracle of the team Ė when thereís several missions going on at once, heís the guy in front of the computers and communication devices coordinating it all.
The Web is also married and his wife hates him being a super-hero Ė itís too dangerous. In the silly 60s comics, he was described as ďthe hen-pecked hero.Ē I donít want to play that up too much, but Iíll touch on it. Also, since heís the best all-around thinker of the group and the least dangerous hand-to-hand combatant, this is the perfect role for him Ė especially since I donít have a telepath to work with.
This isnít to suggest that The Web isnít an effective hero. Quite the opposite, I think itíll be fun and effective to mix in a Web solo adventure in the middle of the group action. By the time this happens, the reader should identify with The Web (heís basically a nice guy and heís hanging around with guys a lot more powerful than him). The audience should cheer at his every little victory as he weaves his own web and traps his opponents Ė it should be very cool. Plus, while Shield will be the leader in the field and public spokesman, The Web will be the guy whoís really running things.
More importantly, The Webís our everyman. Heís the guy that the readers are going to identify with most. The Webís surrounded by demi-gods and heís just a mortal man. Heís the readerís eyes Ė his impression of the other Crusaders will be the readerís. Their greatness will be reflected in his awe of them.
THE BLACK HOOD.
Like I said above, The Black Hood is the Batman of the MLJ universe. Thatís not to say heís a rip-off because The Black Hoodís a very unique character with a very cool origin. Heís not a Bat-clone, but I see him as the hero with the best hand-to-hand skills, the best detective skills and the most single-minded of the heroes. While heís not as grim and neurotic as the current incarnation of Batman, heís certainly the guy with the grimmest, most pulp-like origin.
The Black Hood is the guy whoís convinced me not to take the MLJ comics as gospel. I want the original Black Hood and I want him to be a contemporary character but with a very 40s crime noir feel. In fact, when I get around to telling that origin in flashback, I think it might be cool to do it with Frank Miller Sin City-style artwork, complete with modern technology but 40s/50s-style cars and architecture. Yíknow, the crook talking on a cell phone while driving down a back road in a 1949 Mercury, that kind of thing.
Right now Iím conflicted with what to do with the Black Hood. I love the Golden Age version and think I can play with that quite well. However, I have a great idea for a third Black Hood (which will mean killing off the second version) that would fit well, too. Basically, itíll parallel the origin of the original Black Hood, except that the hermit in the woods will turn out to be his grandfather, the original BH, now about 90 years old (heíd faked his death in order to retire and live alone).
I donít know what approach Iím going to take yet, but Iím leaning towards just using the Golden Age one.
Whatever the case, this Black Hood will be a wanted man in his civilian identity. He will be one of the two Crusaders whose secret identity will not be known by the rest of the team (the other being The Fly, since he wouldnít want them to know heís just a kid). The Black Hood will be the grimmest, perhaps the most serious of the Crusaders (Jaguarís gonna give him a run for his money there!). Again, he wonít be neurotic like Batman, but he will be a driven man. When the team separates in order to work on several missions at once, BH will usually work alone.
The Web and The Black Hood are the only non-super-powered members of the Crusaders. Unlike the Web (the teamís everyman), The Black Hood will be portrayed as larger than life. Super-powers or not, this guyís a overwhelming fighter and a demi-god just like all the super-powered Crusaders.
THE FLY & FLYGIRL
Iím really looking forward to the Red Circle/Archie books coming in (another week or two and Iíll have Ďem all!) because I only remember flashes from the Simon/Kirby reprints for these two.
As I remember it, Fly is a little kid who has a ring that will let him turn into an adult superhero ala Captain Marvel. Flygirl is a model or actress or something like that who falls for the Fly and somehow gets the same powers. Thatís kind of a weird arrangement, if you ask me. Maybe the comics will expand on it for me, but it seems to me that Flygirl would be pretty darn freaked out by the object of her affections really being about 12 years old. I thought Geoff Johns handled the Billy Batson/Star Spangled Kid attraction really well in JSA but Iím no Geoff Johns. I donít know if thereís a way to deal with it without directly ripping off Johns and I donít want to do that. Itíll be a hell of a challenge, especially since the male/female roles are reversed here. Whatever the case, Flygirl will be the only Crusader who will know Flyís secret identity. As it stands now, sheíll be conflicted about it.
Their powers will be weaker than they were in the comics. I was browsing some preview pages in MileHighComics.com and there was a scene where The Fly threw a tank over the horizon into a body of water a mile or two away. Steel Sterling is our powerhouse (and maybe the Shield, I canít remember if the original Sheild had super-strength or not), so while the Flies will have super-strength, we arenít going into Hulk/Superman territory with them.
I see him as the perfect super-hero, a cross between Captain America and Superman and deserving of a spot in their echelon. Heís the field team leader and the public spokesman for the team. Heís the best-of-the-best.
My version is the original Shield. If I remember correctly, he was turned to stone in the 40s and was eventually restored to live in the modern era. If the books bear this out, then Iíll keep that aspect. Sure itís a Captain America copy, but the way I see it Cap owes The Shield one (wink, wink).
However, I could be wrong with the modern era thing. If I am, Iíll be quite disappointed because I canít bring myself to so closely mirror Captain Americaís life unless someone has done that particular bit of dirty work for me. If that never happened then Iíll still use the original Shield, but make his origin happen in contemporary times.
I forget, does the Shield have super-strength? I think so, and if he does, Iím going to put him at a very high level Ė close to, but not quite Steel Sterlingís level.
I love the orgin of Steel Sterling from Zip Comics #1, so Iíll be keeping that, right down to the fact that it happened in the 40s. I read one of those Archie Ďknow your heroesí pages with Sterling and it says that he doesnít age. Thatís perfect for me.
I love the idea of exploring the unique camaraderie that would develop between The Shield and Steel Sterling, another man of the 40s. While the Shield has missed 50-60 years and is a man lost in time, Sterling experienced all those decades and never aged a day through it all. Heís been young and vibrant all those years, but still has his ethical foundation in the great Golden Age, his moral compass in the 40s. I see Shield and Sterling becoming close friends. Certainly Sterling is the only peer The Shield can truly relate too in this modern world.
But that wonít stop me from finding an excuse for an inevitable slugfest between the two. I mean, how cool is this All-Star Squadron cover? How can I avoid doing something like that?
I hardly remember anything about this guy except that he has animal powers, but I happen to love heroes with animal powers. Itís an old Aztec belt gives him his abilities. Iím going to be very stereotypical here, but Jaguarís going to become more catlike in personality the longer he wears that belt. No magic comes without a price, and thatís the one Jaguarís got to pay.
However, itís not going to be dangerous thing. Itís not a case of the animals taking over the Jaguarís mind or anything like that. Itís more of a case where Jaguarís mind is becoming more natural, less Ďtamedí or caged by civilized life. Heís going to become more proud, more predatory (although heíll never kill unless itís truly the last resort). Itíll be obvious just by talking with him that he no longer truly fits in with civilized man Ė heís something more primal now. Did you remember Alan Mooreís early issues of Swamp Thing and how he characterized Jason Blood (aka The Demon)? There was an acute sharpness in Bloodís gaze and something unsettling about the way Blood spoke to people. It was unnerving, like something potentially deadly was barely being held in check. Well, thatís how I want The Jaguar to be. People should be nervous around him Ė this is a carnivore and heís higher on the food chain than we are.
All this will be in spite of Jaguar being a true hero who loves mankind and would never hurt an innocent. He just canít fit in with humanity very well anymore. By default, heís a loner now (and, although unstated, heís actually quite lonely). The only Crusader who can relate to him at all is The Black Hood, and BH is quite the predator himself. Since the web is our everyman, heís actually nervous whenever Jaquarís around.
I have no idea what Iím going to do with this guy. Iíve recently read Pep Comics #1 so I know heís a powerful killing machine. Right now Iíve got him on the team because of his powers. I need to read a lot more about him (heck, I need to read a lot more on ALL of them, but Iíve got no initial angle on what to do with The Comet).
GLENN BROWN GALLERY