THE MIGHTY CRUSADERSMedium: Comic Books
Published by: MLJ/Archie Comics
First Appeared: 1965
Creators: Jerry Siegel (writer) and Paul Reinman (artist)
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broad-stroked imitation of the successful Marvel Comics style, with writer Jerry Siegel (co-creator of Superman) doing a hokey rendition of Stan Lee. Since they were touching on all the genre's cliches of the time, naturally, within a few months the heroes got together to form their own version of Marvel's Avengers. In keeping with the overblown "Mighty" style, this group was dubbed The Mighty Crusaders. (No relation to Terrytoons' Mighty Heroes.) (nor to these guys.)
The members were Fly-Man (formerly known as The Fly) Fly-Girl, The Black Hood, The Comet, and The Shield. Their recurring foes included The Hangman and The Wizard, a couple of 1940s superheroes gone bad. Their bimonthly comic book lasted all of a year before the group sank into obscurity. Within another year, the entire Mighty Comics Group had done the same, and it was years before the publisher used its superhero characters again. A highlight, if that's the proper word, came in #4, which guest-starred every superhero the publisher did in the 1940s except Red Rube (too lighthearted for "serious" superhero fans), Super Duck (a mere funny animal, and for most of his existence, not even super) and Mr. Satan (whose name clashed with Archie Comics' post-'40s image).
In 1983, Archie Comics launched a new superhero line — this one, called "Red Circle Comics", along more traditional lines — and a new version of The Mighty Crusaders was part of it. This incarnation of the group used all the original characters except The Comet (with The Fly having reverted to his original name), plus The Web, The Jaguar, Lancelot Strong, and a de-evilized Wizard. It lasted twice as long as the original version, but was gone by 1985.
In 1991-92, when DC Comics licensed the Archie superheroes for its "!mpact Comics" imprint, DC's versions of the characters briefly formed a team of their own. This time, the adjective was dropped — they were simply called "The Crusaders".
Today, The Mighty Crusaders occupy a corner of the Archie Comics Web site. The group now seems to include practically every superhero the publisher ever did. Only occasionally do they turn up in actual comic books, usually guest-starring with Archie and his friends. But if the publisher's superheroes are ever revived again, you can be sure The Mighty Crusaders will be involved.