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!

Swierczynski and Gaydos' The Black Hood is arguably the title that most obviously fits editor Alex Segura's promise that the Dark Circle line will offer the sort of mature storytelling typical of shows like Boardwalk Empire and Breaking Bad. The book takes the basics of Harry Shorten's Golden Age superhero Black Hood -- a cop in a mask with no superpowers -- and updates it as a gritty street-level tale set in crime writer Swierczynski's native Philadelphia. The mask is now an executioner's mask, and according to USA Today, the character is no hero. Plot specifics haven't been revealed, but we're told the story will be dark and dangerous!


Wilfredo Torres


The new The Shield is the book I'm most excited about out of the gate, even though it's arguably the most conventional superhero title of the three based on first impressions. Created by Harry Shorten and Irv Norvick for Pep Comics (Pep Comics!), the Shield was one of the first great American patriotic superheroes, pre-dating even Captain America.

Christopher, Wendig and Torres have created a new Shield who is the latest incarnation of a legacy hero whose origins go back to the American Revolution. While the new Dark Circle characters aren't necessarily tied to past versions, it sounds like this is one book that could actually make smart use of that history.

What's most exciting about the series is that the new Shield a woman -- and she has an eminently cosplayable modern costume, designed by Torres, that makes her look like a good fit alongside characters like Batgirl and Ms. Marvel, who are currently generating huge buzz.



The third book in the line is actually a continuation of a pre-Dark Circle title, The Fox. Originally a mini-series by Mark Waid, J.M. DeMatteis and Dean Haspiel, it's now an ongoing by Waid and Haspiel.  Based on a Golden Age creation by Joe Blair and Irwin Hansen, The Fox is a frankly very weird adventure about a hero in a floppy-eared head-to-toe onesie who can't help attracting the attention of freaky villains. We're big fans of the book, and we'll have a review of the first collection, Freak Magnet, very soon.

With these three announcements, Dark Circle has established fairly broad parameters for their line. There are more than half a dozen other classic Archie Comics heroes that could be revamped in the next wave of titles, including The Jaguar, The Fly, The Web, and The Comet. Archie really loved those definite articles.

Of course, the title we really want Dark Circle to revive is Pep Comics.


David Mack


David Mack
Dean Haspiel


Dean Haspiel