Before Archie Comics announced their intentions to relaunch a handful of their old superhero properties in a new line called "Dark Circle" — but not too long before — Dean Haspiel, Mark Waid and company revived one of those characters in their five-part Fox miniseries that ran from 2013-2014. An all-around excellent series from one of the most reliable writers in the field and an amazing artist who just doesn't get enough opportunities to prove how good he is at drawing superheroes, that first Fox series proved that Archie superhero comics could be just as good — or even far better — than many of those produced by the genre's two leading publishers.
There's every reason to believe that the overall quality of The Fox, and its rather warm reception by readers and critics, had more than a little to do with the creation of Dark Circle. For further, more concrete proof, look no further than the fact that a new Haspiel and Waid ongoing Fox series is part of the new line.
If you've been reading ComicsAlliance for any length of time at all, you've probably already twigged to the fact that I tend to like really weird comics. Whether it's obscure Golden Age oddities, the Ninja training manuals that were sent to comic book stores in the '80s, or the pouch-filled excesses of the '90s, that's what I love to read. And in three solid decades of reading comic books, I've rarely seen one as weird as The Fox.
Even though it had some of the biggest names in comics involved -- drawn and plotted by Dean Haspiel with scripts by Mark Waid and J.M. DeMatteis -- the miniseries seemed to slip under the radar for a lot of people, and to be honest, I can see why. It's a strange story about a strange character that most people aren't too familiar with. Now that it's out in paperback, though, it's easy to pick up and read -- and you should, if only because it's even stranger when you read it all together.
The first three ongoing titles in Archie Comics' new Dark Circle line of superhero comics have been announced, and they offer an immediate glimpse of the diversity of the range, with one offbeat comedy book, one violent noir book, and what looks like a fairly classic legacy superhero story.
Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos tackle noir in The Black Hood; Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel return for more of The Fox; and novelists Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig join artist Wilfredo Torres on The Shield. All three titles have promise, but they paint a slightly different picture of the line than the forbidding 'Dark Circle' umbrella might have lead readers to expect!
Archie Comics has developed a reputation for doing the unexpected and somehow pulling it off. The wholesome publisher pipped Marvel and DC to the lead in launching an ongoing book with a gay teen protagonist in Kevin Keller; it broke with the conventions of comic book continuity with its attention-grabbing Archie Marries... books; and it successfully brought zombies to Riverdale with its critically and commercially successful Afterlife With Archie books, potentially kicking off a new line of horror books.
So it feels in keeping with that spirit that Archie Comics announced yesterday that it plans to relaunch its cheery (and under-exposed) Red Circle superhero line as 'Dark Circle,' a line of adult-oriented series with the sophisticated narrative ambitions of HBO or Showtime. It's certainly unexpected. Can Archie Comics pull it off?
Over the past few years, Archie Comics has gotten into the variant cover game, and they're doing it better than just about anyone else in comics. The results have been great pieces that we never would've expected to see ten years ago, including stuff like Francesco Francavilla doing zombie-inspired "Afterlife With Archie" covers that led to him actually drawing their upcoming zombie book. Truly, we live in strange times.
Despite various incarnations over the years (including two separate versions published by DC Comics) and the involvement of creators like Carmine Infantino and Alex Toth, Archie's superhero characters have always been the weirder branch of the Riverdale family tree. Over
Movies: Brazilian site Cine Macado's three new character banners for Captain America: The First Avenger. Something tells posters with better Photoshop cutouts will surface soon.
Digital: Dark Horse Comics has announced special digital incentives from July-September for brick-and-mortar retailers of the best kind -- free digital download codes for exclusive eight-page stories stemming from top titles (like B.P.R.D.) that they can simply print and give away
Upcoming: Craig Thompson's Habibi finally has a firm release date. Final cover artwork isn't set, but $29.95 will score fans 672 black and white pages surrounded by a clothbound hardcover with stamped gold foil come September 20.
Movies: My movie Iron Man and yours, Robert Downey Jr.,
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