The GeeksverseFlashback Review: The Shield & The Web

Flashback Review: The Shield & The Web
Published on Friday, July 20, 2012 by

Archie’s New Crusaders will finally be in print in August as monthly floppy comics following up the digital first release. Because of that I have been thinking about the older recent versions of these characters. Like my Bloodshot re-read of the 1993 stories because of the recent Valiant revival, I have pulled out The Shield & The Web from DC’s 2009 limited Red Circle revival. I still prefer the earlier DC !mpact comics versions of these characters but looking back the recent comics were better than I remembered. I may be partial since both The Shield and the Web (!mpact versions) are still on my list of favorite comics. The Shield in particular is still my favorite super soldier hero –trivia alert that Archie/Red Circle’s Shield predates Cap America. The Web is one of my favorite team book. Akin to my fondness for Bloodshot, my fondness for these characters makes me excited that Archie has revived them again, digitally first and then in print. My fondness for what had come before colored my initial opinion, but now, a few years removed, I am having a better read.

Time and a return to the back issue bin has an interesting way of changing a series read through. Perhaps it is a sense of nostalgia kicking in. Perhaps it is the advantage of reading large runs of the titles together.Perhaps it is the joy of picking up comics for $.50 instead of cover price. Irregardless of the rationale the 2009-2010 DC licensing of these comics were better than I remembered. It was a short lived partnership between the Archie owned characters and DC creative teams reviving characters that date back to 1940 for the audience of the late aughts of a new century. If you missed these titles then you may want to check them out in a back issue bin near you. Because of its tepid reception these comics are cluttering discount bins across the nation in local comic book shops.

 

 The Web

Back in the day The Web was a solo hero in earlier Archie and Red Circle runs. At the Heroes Con 2012 New Crusaders panel, a fan was complaining about the !mpact comics making Web a team, an idea that comes up again in the 2009 version. The 2009 team is closers, and predates, Batman Inc. The Web, a solo hero similar to Batman in rich origin story, quickly branches out into a franchise operation of goodwill. The franchise breaks down. The original rich boy Web ends up fighting criminal cartels, seeking out his brother’s killer, creating a Detroit street level hero, AND trying to reign in the rogue Webs. All of those plot points are interwoven into an intricate web (pun intended).

The rich boy trying to use his fortune to do good sounds familiar in the DC Universe. His back story is tragic not by a loss of parents but a loss of a sibling. The hero parallels are reinforced by the help from Barbara Gordon Oracle. Like the Shield, this character’s potential would have shined in a separate non-DC Universe.

After the New Crusaders panel at 2012 Heroes Con, Ian Flynn mentioned that he liked the computer screens and tech incorporated into the 2009 Web. In my earlier read of the comic the Batman Inc. parallels overshadowed the tech. Re-reading the technology stood out as a core concern. It is a different take than the sci-fi-super-soldier Shield, but it pulls in the modern moment of 2009 and 2010 as man struggled under technology’s advances.

The 2009 DC revival of this title only lasted 10 issues.

The Shield

The Shield was the original patriotic super soldier. The earlier incarnations, up through the !mpact version, was a fairly bloodless hero. Like Marvel’s shield carrier, the flag warrior did not take lives.

The Shield quickly runs into Magog in issue 2 of the series. He and Magog have a fairly extended stint together running between Shield and Magog titles. I still don’t know where Magog #9 &10 fit into the continuity of the Shield story or if the timeline matters at all. Shield also tokenly popped up in the background of the rest of the 2010 DC Universe. He is outside of Green Arrow’s marital counseling for a funny pop in. At the end of the series Shield even has a token run in with the JSA. The next to last issue with no hope of joining the JSA is an odd time in the series for the run in.

Magog’s title was also a limited run that ran at the same time as The Shield but Magog was not one of the Archie licensed character.

Overall I like how the character of The Shield is handled. His tension with his estranged father was nice. The downfall of the series was being forced into the DC Universe. This series would have been stronger standing on its own in its own universe like it did in !mpact comics handling. The Shield and Magog spending so much time together points to the redundancy of military trained super soldiers.

The 2009 DC revival of this title only lasted 10 issues as well before he took his final mission. A trade paperback, The Shield Kicking Down the Door, Collects 8 comics including the first 6 of the regular limited series.

Double Features!

When I was flipping over reading Magog’s comics to chase down Shield appearances it always felt odd when the story stopped. The Shield and The Web both had a second feature with every issue. Hangman, Inferno, and Fox were featured in back up stories. None of their adventures seemed like it would support a separate title but it was nice special feature. Inferno and Hangman fit nicely into corners of the DC Universe and stayed primarily by themselves. Inferno did have a Star City run in with Green Arrow and Black Canary, but mostly kept to his own story line. The Fox story had some growth potential but felt the exposition felt rushed.  Micheal Avon Oemings art didn’t help the rushed feeling.

New Crusaders

New Crusaders seems to be returning to its earlier roots. Unlike the DC era of 2009-2010 comics, the Web is returning to a solo hero. Ian Flynn has added a few powers but is recreating the Golden Age heroes. The Shield seems to be leading a new generation of heroes through training. Ian Flynn is writing Archie’s own universe again. It should be a welcome addition to the sixty year history of these characters. Everyone needs to either tune into the digital first release or pick up the print comics.

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