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,[1] but in 2011 the rights to the characters reverted to Archie Comics. A fourth Shield was introduced in October 2015.[2]

The Shield
Pep Comics #1 (Jan. 1940), debut of the Shield. Cover art by Irv Novick.
Publication information
Publisher(MLJ Comics)
Archie Comics
First appearanceHiggins
Pep Comics #1 (January 1940)
Legend of Shield #13 (July 1992)
The Shield (vol. 5) #1 (October 2015)
Created byHiggins
Harry Shorten
Irv Novick
Adam Christopher (script)
Chuck Wendig (script)
David Williams (art)
In-story information
Alter ego- Joe Higgins
- Lt. Michael Barnes
- Victoria Adams
Team affiliationsMighty Crusaders
AbilitiesSuperhuman strength
Great leaping
Wears an indestructible costume
The Shield
Series publication information
PublisherArchie Comics
Impact Comics
FormatOngoing series
Publication date(vol. 1)
June – August 1959
(vol. 2)
June 1983 – July 1984
(vol. 3)
April – October 1984
(vol. 4)
July 1991 – October 1992
(vol. 5)
October 2015 – present
Number of issues(vol. 1)
(vol. 2)
(vol. 3)
(vol. 4)
17 (#1-16 plus 1 Annual)
(vol. 5)
Creative team
Writer(s)Adam Christopher (vol. 5)
Chuck Wendig (vol. 5)
Artist(s)David Williams (vol. 5)

Publication history

The Shield debuted in MLJ's Pep Comics #1 (cover-dated Jan. 1940). Writer Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick created the character. With the American populace reacting to the beginnings of World War II and wartime patriotism stirring, the Shield debuted as the first patriotically themed hero. He was soon followed by three other patriotic comic characters: Captain America (March 1941), Minute-Man (Feb. 1941), and Captain Battle (May 1941).[3]

In 1959, a new Shield, Lancelot Strong, appeared under the Archie Adventure Series imprint in a series titled, The Double Life of Private Strong. It was cancelled after two issues.

Red Circle Comics reintroduced Lancelot Strong in a new series titled, Lancelot Strong: The Shield in June 1983. The series was retitled twice, first with Shield-Steel Sterling in December 1983 and then with Steel Sterling in January 1984. In July 1984, the series ended with its seventh issue.

In 1984, Red Circle Comics also released a series starring the Joe Higgins version of The Shield in a series titled Original Shield. It lasted four issues.

In 1991, Archie Comics licensed their superheroes to DC Comics who created an imprint called Impact Comics. The company launched a fourth solo series, The Legend of the Shield. It featured two Shields, Joe Higgins, who led the series for the first thirteen issues, and Lt. Michael Barnes, his replacement. Barnes continued as The Shield until the title ended in October 1992.[4][5]

In 2015, Archie Comics announced The Shield's return in a new series penned by Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig. This version of the character is a woman named Victoria Adams. The series will be published under the Dark Circle Comics banner.[6] It was originally set to be released in April 2015 but was delayed until September 2015.[2]

Joe Higgins

MLJ Comics

Fictional character biography

The origin story of The Shield appeared in Shield-Wizard Comics #1 (Summer 1940). He is really chemist Joe Higgins, the son of Lieutenant Tom Higgins. Tom was working on a chemical formula for super-strength which the Germans were after, and is slain by German saboteur Hans Fritz in the Black Tom explosion, for which Tom was blamed. After Tom's death, Joe continues to work on it while continuing his studies of chemistry. Joe finally figures out the solution, which requires applying the chemicals to certain parts of his anatomy (Sacrum, Heart, Innervation, Eyes, Lungs, Derma), and exposing himself to x-rays. This gives him super strength, the ability able to make great leaps, and invulnerability. Joe uses the initials S.H.I.E.L.D. as his secret identity. His white costume becomes the familiar colors under the process. He becomes an FBI agent (whose secret identity is known only to FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover) after clearing his father's name, and fights foreign agents and other threats to the U.S.[7]

After a partnership with fellow G-Man, Ju-Ju Watson and girlfriend, Betty, he is joined by a kid partner, Dusty Simmons, in Pep #11 in 1941. Dusty's father had been killed by foreign agents, and he is adopted by Joe and given a costume. Both heroes wear their patriotic costumes beneath their street clothes and change for action whenever the need would arise. Dusty also partners with The Wizard's kid partner, Roy, as the "Boy Buddies".

In Pep #20, Joe is called "The One and Only Shield" at the start of the story and "The Original Shield" at the end of the story because of the success of Captain America, another 1940s-era patriotic superhero. In his first appearance, Captain America had a shield similar to the main part of The Shield's costume, but it was changed to a round shield for the second issue over accusations of plagiarism.

The Shield and Dusty were featured in the first crossover storyline in American comic books. The storyline had them team up with the Wizard (the headlining character from Top-Notch Comics) to stop the invasion plot orchestrated by Moskovia (a fictional country made up of elements from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union).

The Shield was one of MLJ's most popular characters, even spawning a club, the "Shield G-Man Club". He starred in Pep, and several other MLJ titles: Shield-Wizard, Top-Notch Comics. But then a new character arrived who would overshadow him: Archie Andrews. He would take the Shield's cover spot on Pep, take his fan club, and cause the end of the MLJ superheroes.

An older Joe Higgins appears in New Crusaders as the sole survivor of the Brain Emperor's attack on his fellow Crusaders. He gathers their teenage children to form a team dubbed "the New Crusaders".

DC Comics

The Red Circle Comics characters, aptly named "The Red Circle," were again licensed by DC and rebooted. During the Discord crisis a version of the Shield character was seen helping Green Arrow and Black Canary, performing crowd control.[8] First appearing as a secondary character in The Web, another former MLJ hero, the new Shield is Lieutenant Joseph Higgins, stationed in Afghanistan, from where he tries to contact The Web to find his missing father.[9] On the same day however his crew fall victim to Taliban terrorists, and Higgins is grievously wounded. To save his life, he agrees to be subjected to secret government experiments, after which an advanced, nanotech battle suit is merged to his burned epidermis. The suit appears on his body at will and grants him the same array of powers of the earlier incarnation, including superhuman strength, limited flight and advanced sensory abilities. Due to his severe injuries, the only major drawback is that if ever he tries to remove the war suit permanently, his bodily functions could shut down. Still fighting as the new, patriotic hero, he is again contacted by The Web, accepting his request for help[10]

The Shield also appeared in the 2010 DC Comics mini series The Mighty Crusaders.

Lancelot Strong

In June 1959, a new Shield was published by Archie that had no connection to the previous version.

Joe Simon was asked by Archie to create characters for a new "Archie Adventure Series" line of superheroes. Joe Simon created a new Shield-type of superhero, whose real identity was Lancelot Strong, who appeared in a new title, The Double Life of Private Strong. Joe Simon put together a team of artists including Jack Kirby to work for him on The Double Life of Private Strong.

Lancelot's scientist father developed a method to create a superhuman by expanding the mind, which he used on his infant son. After his father was killed by foreign agents, Lancelot was adopted by a farm couple and raised as their son. Once he hit his teens, he discovered the truth of his background and his powers: strength, flight, near-invulnerability, vision powers, the ability to generate lightning, and a few more. His father had created a patriotic costume for him, and he started off as the new superhero, the Shield. He soon joined the Army, acting like a Gomer Pyle-style country bumpkin, while leading a double life as the Shield (hence the title of his comic).

In 1999, Archie formally assigned all rights to Lancelot Strong to Joe Simon.

Bill Higgins

When Archie revamped their superheroes under their "Radio Comics/Mighty Comics" line, a third Shield was introduced as Bill Higgins, son of the original Shield. He would appear in the new Fly-Man #31, and becomes one of the main founders of the Mighty Crusaders. It would be revealed that his father was turned to stone by the villain, The Eraser, and Bill was carrying on his father's work. Bill's 'powers', which seem to be enhanced strength and limited invulnerability, were derived from his costume. He would appear through the end of the Radio/Mighty Comics run.

Michael Barnes

When Legend of the Shield was revamped, Lt. Michael Barnes, a married father with a young daughter, became the new Shield. Barnes would continue as the lead character until the series' 1992 cancellation and also appeared as the Shield in the six-issue miniseries The Crucible.

Victoria Adams

In 2015, Archie Comics rebranded their Red Circle Comics line under the new Dark Circle Comics banner. The new Shield debuted in her own new series titled The Shield in October 2015. Victoria Adams is the first female to take up the mantle of the Shield. The series ran four issues. She has continued in her role as the Shield in The Mighty Crusaders written by Ian Flynn.


  1. ^ "Dan Didio on Bringing the Archie Heroes to the DCU". Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Goulart, Ron (2000). Comic book culture: an illustrated history. Collectors Press, Inc. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-888054-38-5.
  4. ^ List of DC Comics imprint publications#Impact
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Ask the Archivist - "Didn't you guys used to publish superhero characters?" Archived 2009-02-02 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
  8. ^ Green Arrow/Black Canary #19-#23 (2009)
  9. ^ The Red Circle: The Web (2009)
  10. ^ The Red Circle: The Shield (2009)

External links

Barnes (name)

Barnes is an English surname and rare given name. At the time of the British Census of 1881, the relative frequency of the surname Barnes was highest in Dorset (2.9 times the British average), followed by Wiltshire, Cumberland, Hampshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Huntingdonshire, Lancashire and Sussex.There are multiple theories of the origin of the surname; it is variously suggested to be of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, or Irish provenance. According to one etymology, the name is derived from Old English beorn (warrior), which is in turn of Old Norse origin. In another account, it was simply an occupational name for a person who works in a barn, or a topographic name for a person who lives near a barn.

Blue Ribbon Comics

Blue Ribbon Comics is the name of two American comic book anthology series, the first published by the Archie Comics predecessor MLJ Magazines Inc., commonly known as MLJ Comics, during the 1930s and 1940s period known as the Golden Age of Comic Books, and the second published in the 1980s by Archie Comics under the Red Circle and Archie Adventure Series banners.

Blue Ribbon Comics was also the title of an unrelated six-issue comic book series published in 1948–1949 by St. John Publications.

Jackpot Comics

Jackpot Comics was the name of an American anthology comic book magazine series published by MLJ Magazines Inc., more commonly known as MLJ Comics, for nine issues between Spring 1941 and Spring 1943. It featured new stories of a number of characters previously seen in other MLJ publications.

Shield-Wizard Comics

Shield-Wizard Comics was the name of an American comic book series published by MLJ Magazines Inc., more commonly known as MLJ Comics, for thirteen issues between Summer 1940 and Winter 1944.

It featured the titular comics superheroes The Wizard and The Shield and their supporting characters throughout.

Shield (comics)

Shield, in comics, may refer to:

S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel Comics organization

S.H.I.E.L.D. (comic book), a Marvel Comics ongoing series by Jonathan Hickman

Shield (Archie Comics), a number of characters who appeared in Archie and Impact Comics publications

The Shield: Spotlight, a comic book adaptation of the TV series and published by IDW Publishing

Top-Notch Comics

Top-Notch Comics was the name of an American comic book anthology series published by MLJ Magazines Inc., more commonly known as MLJ Comics, during the 1930s and 1940s period known as the Golden Age of Comic Books. From issue #28 it was re-titled Top-Notch Laugh Comics.

Zip Comics

Zip Comics was the name of an American anthology comic book series published by MLJ Magazines Inc., more commonly known as MLJ Comics, for 47 issues between June 1940 and Summer 1944. It featured a number of adventure, humor and costumed hero stories throughout the series, including the first appearance of superhero "Steel Sterling" and the earliest appearances of the humor strip Wilbur, who later had his own long-running series for Archie Comics.

Archie Comics characters and fictional elements
Licensed characters
Archie Comics
Centaur Comics
National Allied
Fawcett Comics
Fox Comics
Nedor Comics
Quality Comics
Timely Comics
Marvel Comics
DC Comics
Television work
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