Archie Adventure Comics

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This and Red Circle Comics were the Superhero imprints of Archie Comics Publications Inc. Archie Adventure Comics has at various times featured the heroes The Black Hood, The Fly (also known as Fly-Man), The Fox, The Jaguar and the superhero team the Mighty Crusaders. Founded as MLJ Publications in 1939 by John L Goldwater (1916-1999) and Louis Silberkleit (1905-1986), the company originally published many superheroes including The Shield (not to be confused with the later Marvel character of that name), a patriotic US hero preceding Captain America by over a year. These superheroes were gradually replaced by the perennial teenage humour character Archie Andrews in the mid-1940s; the company name became Archie Comics in 1945.

The various superheroes returned in 1959 under the Archie Adventure imprint, distinct from the numerous teen humour titles the company is most famous for. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby both worked for the company, creating the title The Double Life of Private Strong in 1959. This ended after two issues owing to complaints from DC Comics about similarities to Superman. The Jaguar and The Fly, however, enjoyed respectable runs into the mid-1960s. Archie licensed the Pulp hero The Shadow in 1964, but made the initial mistake of presenting him as a James Bond-like character. Turning him into a more conventional superhero was no more successful; the title ended after eight issues. Writer Robert Berenstein (1919-1989) and artist John Rosenberger (1918-1977) contributed considerable material to the superhero titles during this period.

Around 1965 the line was renamed Mighty Comics and Jerry Siegel brought in as general writer, with principal artist Paul Reinman (1910-1988). Along with The Shield and the Black Hood, a superhero team similar to Marvel Comics' The Avengers was created: The Mighty Crusaders. The Comet and a revised version of The Fly known as Fly-Man were members of this team, but all superhero titles had folded by 1967. An uncredited paperback, High Camp Superheroes (graph 1966) with an introduction by Siegel appeared from Belmont Books, the publisher's paperback publishing division.

The 1970s saw another attempt to revive the superhero titles by relaunching Red Circle Comics headed by Michael Silberkleit (1932-2008), Red Circle being the name his father Louis Silberkleit and Martin Goodman had used in the 1940s for their Pulp magazine line. Chilling Adventures in Sorcery appeared, hosted for a time by the supernatural heroine Sabrina the Teenage Witch, along with other Horror titles. The superheroes reappeared again for a time in this imprint and in such non-Red Circle titles as Archie's Superhero Digest, but all the comics reverted to the company's standard humour format by the late 1970s. The Red Circle imprint was re-revived in the early 1980s, then switched back to the Archie Adventure Series name. This included a new run of The Mighty Crusaders, but the line again failed by late 1985.

In 1991, Archie Comics licensed their superheroes to DC Comics, which attempted to rework the characters in its Impact Comics line; this had failed by 1992. DC made another attempt in 2008, hiring J Michael Straczynski as the main author of an ultimately unsuccessful effort to incorporate the characters into the DC Comics universe. Rights to the Archie superheroes reverted to Archie Publications in 2011; yet another revival is reportedly available in digital format by subscription.

Archie Comics is of most importance as the last surviving "entry-level" US comics publisher for younger readers, other such companies having ceased operation. The title Archie Comics itself has been published continuously since 1942. Co-founder John L Goldwater was said to be the principal author of the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s, earning him the wrath of a great many fans and professionals. A more recent effort to modernize Archie Andrews and his friends and to have them deal with more serious, real-world matters has won praise from various quarters. [GSt]

see also: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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