Dark Circle Comics

Dark Circle Comics is an imprint of Archie Comics Publications, Inc. Under its previous name, Red Circle Comics, it published non-humor characters, particularly superheroes in the 1970s and 1980s, and was a digital imprint from 2012 to 2014. In 2015, it was converted back to a print imprint and was completely revamped as Dark Circle Comics, featuring darker and more mature content than previous incarnations of Archie's superhero line.

The term "Red Circle characters" is also used to refer to Archie Comics' superheroes,[1] including such characters as the Black Hood, The Shield, the Wizard, the Hangman, The Fly, Flygirl, The Comet, and the Fox.

These characters were previously published when Archie Comics was MLJ Magazines, then published under various Archie imprints: Archie Adventure Series, Radio Comics/Mighty Comics Group, Red Circle Comics and the Red Circle Comics digital imprint (2012).

Archie licensed their Red Circle characters to DC Comics in the early 1990s under the DC imprint Impact Comics, and then again from 2007 to 2011, when DC attempted to integrate them into the DC Universe. When this failed, the characters reverted to Archie Comics, which launched the imprint digitally. The company retired this in late 2014; the line was relaunched as the Dark Circle Comics imprint in 2015.

Dark Circle Comics
Dark Circle Comics logo 2015
Parent companyArchie Comics Publications, Inc.
  • Archie Adventure Series
  • Mighty Comics Group/Radio Comics
  • Red Circle Comics
Founded1978 (first incarnation)
2015 (current incarnation)
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationPelham, New York
Key peopleAlex Segura (Senior Vice President of Publicity and Marketing)
Publication typesComics
Fiction genresSuperhero fiction
Official websitedarkcirclecomics.com

Publication history

MLJ Magazines

MLJ's first comic book published in November 1939 was Blue Ribbon Comics, with the first half of the magazine in full color and the second half in red and white tints.

In January 1940, Pep Comics debuted with the Shield (one of the first superheroes with a costume based upon United States patriotic iconography), created by writer and managing editor Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick. (The Shield was a forerunner of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Captain America, having debuted 14 months earlier.)[2][3]

MLJ's Golden Age heroes also included the Black Hood, who also appeared in pulp magazines[4][5] and a radio show;[5][6] and The Wizard, who shared a title with the Shield.[7] Top-Notch Comics (featuring, among others, The Wizard, Black Hood, and The Firefly) was launched in December 1941.

The Archie character soon dominated MLJ publications, pushing out the superheroes. For instance, at first, the cover feature of Pep Comics was The Shield; he and The Hangman shared the cover with Archie in Pep Comics #36 (February, 1943). Archie increasingly was given the cover until issue #51 (August, 1944), when he took over the cover permanently.[8] The company was later (in 1946)[9] renamed after the character.[2]

MLJ superhero titles

  • Blue Ribbon Comics (November 1939 – March 1942) – 22 issues; also known as Blue Ribbon Mystery Comics[10]
  • Hangman (Spring 1942 – Fall 1943) – 7 issues
  • Pep Comics (Jan. 1940 – Oct. 1947) – 64 issues; becomes all-humor after issue #65
  • Shield-Wizard Comics (Summer 1940 – Spring 1944) – 13 issues
  • Top Notch Comics (December 1939 – May 1942) – 27 issues
  • Zip Comics (February 1940 – Summer 1944) – 47 issues; became mostly humor after issue #35

Archie Adventure Series

Archie's Silver Age relaunch of its superheroes under the Archie Adventure Series line featured two new characters, The Jaguar and The Fly, as well as a new version of the Shield, inspired by DC's revivals of their 1940s characters.[11][12] The Archie Adventure Series line debuted with the June 1959 release of The Double Life of Private Strong #1, by creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, which also introduced The Fly, also by Simon and Kirby. DC Comics' lawyers, citing similarity to Superman, forced Archie Comics to stop publishing Private Strong after two issues.[12] Adventures of The Fly appeared two months after Private Strong #1 and ran for 30 issues under that title, until October, 1964.[13] The Adventures of the Jaguar began in September 1961 and ran for 15 issues until November 1963.[13] During this time, Archie Comics licensed the 1930s pulp character The Shadow, whom they portrayed first as a spy in a James Bond mode, before turning him into a costumed superhero. Archie's version of The Shadow ran for eight issues (Aug. 1964 – Sept. 1965).[13] In addition, the Jaguar, The Fly, and his partner Flygirl appeared in issues of Pep Comics and Laugh Comics between 1961 and 1963.[13] Much of the output during the Adventure Series period after the departure of Simon and Kirby was by writer Robert Bernstein and artists John Rosenberger and John Giunta.[13]

Mighty Comics / Radio Comics

The Mighty Comics Group imprint (alternately known as Radio Comics)[14] took over the Adventure titles in the mid-1960s as general imitation of Marvel Comics and the Batman TV show camp; Superman creator Jerry Siegel was brought in to be the imprint's main writer, along with Marvel Comics artist Paul Reinman.[13] The shift to the Mighty imprint (which first appeared on covers dated January 1966) included changing the title Adventures of The Fly into Fly Man. The first issue of Fly Man, #31, brought the company its first super hero team (similar to Marvel's Avengers), The Mighty Crusaders, made up of a newly revived version of The Shield, The Fly (re-dubbed Fly-Man), The Black Hood (who had appeared occasionally in Adventures of The Fly), and a newly revived version of The Comet (who had appeared a few months before in the final issue of Adventures of The Fly).[13] The Mighty Crusaders spun off into their own title after three Fly Man appearances. The Wizard and the Hangman, who had been heroes during their MLJ publication, became recurring villains. In The Mighty Crusaders #4, many of the old MLJ heroes made cameo appearances. In November 1966, with issue 40, Fly Man changed its name again to Mighty Comics, which featured various Mighty super-heroes (The Shield, The Web, The Hangman, Steel Sterling, Mister Justice) in rotating solo adventures until its cancellation ten issues later.[13] Similarly, the final issue of Mighty Crusaders was taken over by a solo adventure of Steel Sterling. The Mighty Comics Group line was cancelled in late 1967.[11][15] Several stories from this period were published in the mass-market paperback High Camp Super-Heroes by Belmont Books in 1966 (Belmont was owned by the same company that owned Archie),[16] which featured an introduction by Siegel, as well as in a 1966 deluxe special, Super Heroes Versus Super Villains.[13]

Red Circle Comics

Red Circle Comics was launched in the late 1970s as a fantasy/horror imprint, but switched over to superheroes in the 1980s.[11]

The line was first used to publish Chilling Adventures in Sorcery in October 1973, which for its first two issues was called Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as Told by Sabrina. With the third issue, the title was renamed and published under Red Circle Comics.[17] The name "Red Circle" was based on the previous business that Michael Silberkleit's father had with Martin Goodman, with Gray Morrow as editor. With issue number 6 Chilling Adventures was renamed Red Circle Sorcery and lasted until issue number 11 (Feb. 1975). Red Circle published one issue of The Super Cops (based on the movie of the same name) in July 1974. Shortly thereafter, Mad House (a re-title of Mad House Glads) would also be published under the Red Circle Comics line starting with issue number 95 (Sept. 1974). This would end after number 97 (January 1975), when the title reverted to being a standard Archie humor title.[18]

In 1978 and 1979, Archie published two digests collecting their superhero materials from the 1960s. The first was titled Archie's Super Hero Special. The second issue was titled Archie's Super Hero Comic Digest Magazine, and is notable for publishing the previously unpublished revamp of the Black Hood done by Gray Morrow and Neal Adams.[18] There was nothing on their covers to indicate they were Red Circle titles; only the interior indicia indicated the publisher.

In the 1980s, Archie made a concerted effort to reuse its superheroes. The first appearance was in JC Comics's JCP Features #1 (Dec. 1981), which reprinted the new Black Hood materials that appeared in Archie Super Hero Comic Digest Magazine #2.[19] In March 1983, the Red Circle brand was resurrected with first issue of a new volume of Mighty Crusaders. That title lasted 13 issues and led to many new titles under the Red Circle Comics banner, including The Fly (nine issues, May 1983-October, 1984), Black Hood (three issues, June–October, 1983), Lancelot Strong, The Shield (two issues, June–August, 1983, before becoming Shield – Steel Sterling for issue #3 [Dec. 1983] and finally Steel Sterling for issues #4–7 [Jan.-July, 1984]), The Original Shield (four issues, April–Oct., 1984), Blue Ribbon (14 issues, including new material and reprints of older material; Nov. 1983-Dec. 1984), and The Comet (two issues of a three-issue miniseries, October–December, 1983).[18][20] Though this 1980s incarnation featured Rich Buckler's work prominently, it also featured contributions from others, including artists Jim Steranko, Alex Toth, Steve Ditko, Rudy Nebres, Alan Weiss, Carmine Infantino, Dick Ayers, John Severin, and Pat Boyette.

Archie Adventure Series revival

With the February 1984 issues, the Red Circle line was renamed the Archie Adventure Series,[20] reviving the name from the company's superhero line of the early 1960s. During this period, the company published, as either Red Circle or Archie Adventure, a comic-book tie-in to Remco's ManTech Robot Warriors toy line (two issues, Sept.-Dec. 1984), a Katy Keene Special (Sept. 1983), and an issue of Thunder Bunny (Jan. 1984).[20] By September 1985, the entire line that originated with Red Circle had been cancelled.[15]

In 1988, however, with Archie's acquisition of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license, the Archie Adventure Series returned as the imprint behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, which ran 72 issues until October 1995. In the late 1980s, Archie Adventure Series published The Adventures of Bayou Billy, based on a popular video game, and in the early 1990s the imprint published Mighty Mutanimals, a superhero team comic spun off from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Spectrum Comics

Archie planned to begin publishing superheroes again in the late 1980s with an imprint called Spectrum Comics, featuring a number of high-profile talents, including Steve Englehart, Jim Valentino, Marv Wolfman, Michael Bair, Kelley Jones, and Rob Liefeld. Planned Spectrum titles included The Fly, The Fox, Hangman, Jaguar, Mister Justice, and The Shield. Ultimately, Archie cancelled Spectrum Comics before publishing a single issue.[21]

DC Comics licensing

Impact Comics

DC Comics licensed the Red Circle characters and revamped them for publishing under the Impact Comics imprint from 1991 to 1992. This attempt also included a super team, called simply "The Crusaders".[1][11] The stories in the line were part of their own shared universe.[22]

Red Circle line

Ian Flynn, Alitha Martinez and Ryan Jampole at a September 8, 2012 signing for New Crusaders No. 1 at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.

DC was granted the license to the Red Circle characters in 2008. DC planned to inject the characters into the DC Universe and tapped writer J. Michael Straczynski.[23] The line folded in late 2010.[24] In July 2011, it was revealed that DC no longer had the rights to them.[25]

Red Circle digital imprint

Red Circle Comics logo
Logo from 2012 to 2014

Archie Comics announced at the New York Comic Con in October 2011 that its superhero line will return as an all-digital line under a subscription model with back issues archive access.[26] This was announced as the Red Circle line starting with the New Crusader comic in 2012.[27] The Red Circle Comics app provides readers access to a new chapter of the New Crusaders comic, as well as the Red Circle library of comics from the previous 70 years for a 99 cent weekly subscription price.[28]

In 2012, New Crusaders was followed up with Lost Crusade: Prelude, a free one-shot focusing on the lives of the original Mighty Crusaders which debuted on August 29 through the Red Circle Comics app at RedCircleComics.com. Ian Flynn had pitched the idea as "I was really excited by all the prospective stories to be told between the end of the '80s series and our relaunch... There were so many open endings when the '80s era series wrapped up that it's hard to choose. What happened to Darkling? Who was the traitor? Did Black Hood figure it out, or just make things worse? Did anyone mourn Doc Reeves?" The first arc of New Crusaders was also printed.[29]

Chuck Dixon was announced as writing the second story arc of Lost Crusade[30] and New Crusaders: Dark Tomorrow was announced for May 2013,[31] but neither would come out.

A five-issue The Fox miniseries by Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel ran in autumn 2013, with The Shield back-up strips by J.M. DeMatteis[32] (who'd co-write Fox #5 instead of Waid).

Dark Circle Comics

In July 2014, Archie Comics announced that the Red Circle Comics imprint would be relaunched as Dark Circle Comics in early 2015 with the past continuity removed. Tales will be self-contained, five-issue story arc in ongoing series[33][34] Black Hood debuted in February 2015, followed by The Fox, continuing from the digital Red Circle line in April 2015, with The Shield debuting in September 2015 after being delayed.[35] A digital exclusive, Sam Hill: In The Crosshairs, was released in October 2015 featuring former NYPD detective Sam Hill.[36] A fourth series, The Hangman, is set to debut in November 2015.[37][38] In July 2015, the publisher announced a revamped version of its 1940s character the Web would debut the following year.[39]


As of 2016



Titles in publication as of 2016

See also


  1. ^ a b Arrant, Chris (April 29, 2009). "Completing the Red Circle: Talking to JMS". Newsarama. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Offenberger, Rik (March 1, 2003). "Publisher Profile: Archie Comics". Borderline (19). Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  3. ^ "The Shield". An International Catalogue of Superheroes. internationalhero.co.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  4. ^ Pulps. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  5. ^ a b The Black Hood. International Catalogue of Superheroes
  6. ^ Radio. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  7. ^ Shield-Wizard Comics. The Mighty Crusaders Network.
  8. ^ Donald D. Markstein. The Shield — G-Man Extraordinary. Toonopedia. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.
  9. ^ "Archie Comics Publications, Inc. History," Funding Universe. Accessed March 4, 2018.
  10. ^ Blue Ribbon Comics entry, Grand Comics Database. Accessed March 3, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d Markstein, Don. "ARCHIE (MLJ) COMICS". Toonopedia.com. Don Markstein. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  12. ^ a b Donald D. Markstein. The Shield. Toonopedia.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mougin, Lou (April 1982). "The Back-Seat Super Heroes, Pt. IV: The Mighty Heroes, or Send Your Super-Hero to Camp!". The Comic Reader (200): 32–49.
  14. ^ Fagan, Bryan D. and Jody Condit Fagan. Comic Book Collections for Libraries (ABC-CLIO, 2011), p. 43.
  15. ^ a b Donald D. Markstein. Mighty Crusaders. Toonopedia.
  16. ^ Hyfler, Richard. "Books For Bus Terminals: Whatever Happened to Belmont Productions?" Forbes.com (SEP 15, 2010).
  17. ^ Donald D. Markstein. Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Toonopedia.
  18. ^ a b c Gilbert, Jonathan A. The Groovy Age: Mystery Days at Riverdale High. The Groovy Age. Reposted at Mighty Crusader Network. Accessed May 22, 2013.
  19. ^ "GCD :: Issue :: JCP Features [JCP Features the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents] #1". www.comics.org. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  20. ^ a b c See [1] and [2]
  21. ^ "Archie Comics Scraps Spectrum Comics Imprint". The Comics Journal (131): 5–7. September 1989.
  22. ^ Renaud, Jeffrey (March 26, 2009). "JMS Circles the DC Universe in Red". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  23. ^ Armitage, Hugh (August 25, 2009). "DC integrates 'Red Circle' heroes". Digital Spy. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  24. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (December 15, 2010). "Closing the RED CIRCLE: Bidding Adieu To MIGHTY CRUSADERS". Newsarama. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  25. ^ Langshaw, Mark (July 20, 2011). "'Red Circle' rights no longer held by DC". Digital Spy. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  26. ^ Gustines, George Gene (October 10, 2011). "For Archie Comics, a Return to Superheroes". New York Times. p. B5. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  27. ^ Phegley, Kiel (October 12, 2011). "Inside the Red Circle with Archie's "New Crusaders"". comicbookresources.com. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  28. ^ Keily, Karl (July 25, 2012). "CCI: 'New Crusaders' Rule Archie's Red Circle Comics Panel". Comic Book Resources.
  29. ^ Phegley, Kiel (August 29, 2012). "Ian Flynn Launches Red Circle's 'Lost Crusade'". Comic Book Resources.
  30. ^ Comic Book Resources: "CCI EXCLUSIVE: Chuck Dixon Joins Red Circle's "Lost Crusade""
  31. ^ Robot 6: "Jon Goldwater discusses 2012 and what lies ahead for Archie Comics"
  32. ^ Comic Book Resources: "Waid & Haspiel Bring "The Fox" Into Archie's Red Circle"
  33. ^ Truitt, Brian (July 10, 2014). "Archie to launch Dark Circle superhero line in 2015". USA Today. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  34. ^ Truitt, Brian (July 17, 2014). "Heroic trio powers new Dark Circle Comics lineup". USA Today. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  35. ^ "Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig on Dark Circle's The Shield, Coming September 16". Comicbook.com. Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  36. ^ [3]
  37. ^ "Archie Comics October 2015 Covers and Solicitations". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  38. ^ "Dark Circle Comics Presents THE HANGMAN". Retrieved 2015-09-07.
  39. ^ Phegley, Kiel (July 2, 2015). "Archie's Dark Circle Introduced Teen Hero in The Web". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on August 14, 2015. Retrieved August 31, 2015.

External links

Adam Christopher

Adam Christopher McGechan (born 2 February 1978 in Auckland, New Zealand), who writes under the name Adam Christopher, is a New Zealand novelist. In 2006, he moved from New Zealand to North West England, where he lives with his wife.

Archie Comics

Archie Comic Publications, Inc. is an American comic book publisher headquartered in Pelham, New York. The company is known for its many titles featuring fictional teenagers including Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle, Sabrina Spellman, and Josie and the Pussycats.

The company began in 1939 as MLJ Comics, which primarily published superhero comics. The initial Archie characters were created in 1941 by publisher John L. Goldwater and artist Bob Montana, in collaboration with writer Vic Bloom. They first appeared in Pep Comics #22 (cover-dated Dec. 1941). With the creation of Archie, publisher John Goldwater hoped to appeal to fans of the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney.Archie Comics was also the title of the company's longest-running publication, the first issue appearing with a cover date of Winter 1942. Starting with issue #114, the title was shortened to simply Archie. The flagship series was relaunched from issue #1 in July 2015 with a new look and design suited for a new generation of readers. Archie Comics characters and concepts have also appeared in numerous films, television programs, cartoons, and video games.

Black Hood

The Black Hood is a fictional character created by MLJ Comics (later known as Archie Comics) during the period known as the "Golden Age of Comic Books." The Black Hood first appeared in Top-Notch Comics #9, October 1940 and became one of MLJ's most popular characters. He has been in four self-titled series as well as in his own radio show, Black Hood (1943-1944). In recent decades, the Black Hood (along with other Archie Comics superheroes) has been sporadically licensed and published by DC Comics. However, the character reappeared under the new Dark Circle Comics line in 2015.

Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig is an American author, comic book writer, screenwriter, and blogger. He is best known for his popular online blog Terribleminds, and for his 2015 Star Wars novel Aftermath, which debuted at #4 on The New York Times Best Seller list and #4 on USA Today's best seller list. As of early 2016, Wendig writes Hyperion for Marvel and The Shield for Dark Circle Comics.

He was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2013.

Dark Circle

The Dark Circle is a fictional criminal organization in that appears in comic books from DC Comics, primarily part of the Legion of Super-Heroes comic books. They first appeared in 1968, created by Jim Shooter as a criminal organization founded by five members and populated by a multitude of clones of the original five members.

The Dark Circle concept was later modified to consist of members from five core worlds instead of clones. A later version, after DC Comics rebooted their history, was led by Brainiac 4 and had several known Legion of Super-Heroes enemies among their ranks instead of the previous generic masked henchmen.

Dark circle (disambiguation)

Dark circle may refer to:

Periorbital dark circles, dark blemishes around the eyes

Dark Circle, a fictional criminal organization in publications from DC Comics

Dark Circle (film), a 1982 American documentary film about the connections between the nuclear weapons and nuclear power industries

Dark Circle Comics, an alternative name for Red Circle Comics

Dark Circles, a 2013 American horror film starring Johnathon Schaech and Pell James.

Firefly (Archie Comics)

The Firefly is a fictional comic book character created by Harry Shorten and Bob Wood for MLJ Comics in 1940. He first appeared in Top-Notch Comics #8. Artist Warren King and writer Joe Blair loaned their talents to many of the Firefly's installments.

Fox (comics)

The Fox is the name of two fictional superheroes that appear in periodicals published by MLJ Comics and later Dark Circle Comics.

Frank Tieri (writer)

Frank Tieri is an American comic book writer.

Hangman (Archie Comics)

The Hangman is the name of several fictional superheroes that appear in periodicals published by MLJ Comics and later Dark Circle Comics.

Harry Shorten

Harry Shorten (1914–1991) was an American writer, editor, and book publisher best known for the syndicated gag cartoon There Oughta Be a Law!, as well as his work with Archie Comics, and his long association with Archie's publishers Louis Silberkleit and John L. Goldwater. From the late 1950s until his 1982 retirement, Shorten was a book publisher, overseeing such companies as Leisure Books, Midwood Books, Midwood-Tower Publications, Belmont Tower, and Roband Publications.

Madam Satan (comics)

Madam Satan (alternatively Madame Satan) is a fictional character that has appeared as several iterations in Archie Comics under its various imprints.

The character made her live-action debut in the Netflix series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on her appearances in the comic book series of the same name, and is portrayed by Michelle Gomez.

Mighty Crusaders

The Mighty Crusaders is a fictional superhero team published by Archie Comics. The team originally appeared in Fly-Man No. 31, #32 and No. 33 before being launched in its own title, Mighty Crusaders. Written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, the series lasted seven issues before being cancelled. The team was revived under Archie's Red Circle Comics line in 1983. In 1992 DC Comics licensed the characters and relaunched the team as The Crusaders, aiming the comic at younger readers as part of its !mpact line. This series lasted eight issues, cover-dated May to December 1992.

New Crusaders

The New Crusaders is a fictional superhero team and their eponymous title published by Archie Comics' imprint Red Circle Comics. A revamp of the previously published Mighty Crusaders title, New Crusaders follows the sons and daughters of the original Mighty Crusaders as they acquire their own powers and attempt to become superheroes. The series was written by regular Sonic the Hedgehog writer Ian Flynn and ended on a cliffhanger.

Shield (Archie Comics)

The Shield is the name of several fictional patriotic superheroes created by MLJ (now known as Archie Comics). Appearing months before Captain America, the Shield has the distinction of being one of the first superheroes with a costume based upon United States patriotic iconography.

The name was used by MLJ/Archie for four characters. DC Comics' Impact line, which licensed the Archie properties, also used the name for several characters. In 2010, DC announced plans to integrate the Shield and other MLJ characters into the DC Universe, but in 2011 the rights to the characters reverted to Archie Comics. A fourth Shield was introduced in October 2015.

Web (comics)

The Web is a fictional character, a superhero created by MLJ Comics' in 1942 by artist John Cassone and an unknown writer.

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