The MLJ Companion: The Complete History of the Archie Super-Heroes Paperback – Illustrated, September 27, 2016
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
- Item Weight : 2.15 pounds
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781605490670
- ISBN-13 : 978-1605490670
- Product Dimensions : 8.4 x 0.8 x 11 inches
- Publisher : TwoMorrows Publishing; Illustrated Edition (September 27, 2016)
- Reading level : 16 and up
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1605490679
- Best Sellers Rank: #900,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
But during that time, and in their brief revival in the 1960s, the MLJ comics made their mark. Granted a lot of their names are not those of household superheroes. There will be no cinematic universe enshrining their noble deeds in celluloid (I know films don’t use celluloid anymore, but it sounds more poetic). You might never have heard of The Shield, The Black Hood, Steel Sterling, The Fly, The Comet, The Wizard and Roy the Superboy, Madam Satan, or The Mighty Crusaders. They may all sound like rips-offs to you. And well… you’d be right and you’d be wrong at the same time.
What the MLJ superheroes (or ultra-heroes, as they called themselves in the 60s), had was influence. A lot of firsts, a lot of similarities in hero origins, a lot of new writers and artists emerged from this company. The first patriotic themed superhero was The Shield, coming out 8 months before Captain America. Fear of litigation from MLJ also changed a singular aspect of Captain America’s outfit. For those who remember, the Captain’s original shield was more in line of a medieval one, but it also looked exactly like the front part of The Shield’s costume. A change was ordered and the more functional round shield was drawn in. Two characters had taglines later co-opted by DC comics: Steel Sterling was “The Man of Steel”; The Black Hood was called the “Dark Knight of Justice.” The Fly, developed by the classic team of Kirby and Simon had a striking resemblance to Spiderman’s origins and dealt with the problems of a teenager turned superhero. It is also interesting to note that The Fly debuted fourteen months before Spidey (Kirby had always claimed that the initial idea for the webslinger was his). The Comet, an extremely violent hero, was the first superhero ever killed off in comics in Pep #21.
There have been several periods of incarnation (or attempted incarnation) for the MLJ line up. The first being in the golden age, where the superhero craze came and went. Next was the 60s, when superheros (apart from the big three Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman who’ve never gone away) came back into fashion. Then further attempts to revive them in the 80s with Spectrum imprint, 90s with Impact imprint, and 2000s with Dark Circle Comics (getting grim and gritty). After the second wave, all of the others have been relatively short lived. All in all the MLJ heroes have had seven incarnations in the eighty years since their conception, each lasting shorter than the one previous.
Simon & Kirby comics for Archie Publications — The Fly and the Shield — were better than many DC titles of the time, while the mid-'60s titles helmed by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel presented an approach to storytelling that seemed as if it was lifted from the "Batman" TV series. These wacky books have their partisans and, while I'm not one of them, there is something about the "Too Many Superheroes" issue of The Mighty Crusaders that makes it a one-of-a-kind hoot. DC had the characters for two runs, under the Impact logo in 1991 and the Red Circle imprint in 2009, although the latter consisted of a few titles scripted by J. Michael Straczynski, with only the Shield comics, continued by Eric Trautmann, reaching a tenth issue. Reprints of the '40s comics, now in public domain, have made the dream of owning these rare comics a low-cost reality. Yes, they retain the flaws of the originals (occasionally poor color registration, for example), but I never thought I'd own a complete collection of Bob Fugi's run on "The Hangman" or Novick's best work on the Shield (Shield-Wizard #7-12, for example, including "King" Kirby's guest-art issue of Shield-Wizard #7. It must be said that no one brought more class to the line than Rich Buckler and his crew, whose Blue Ribbon/Red Circle/Archie Adventure Comics run was the most consistent in quality. For example, Steve Ditko was drawing "The Fly" in ‘82-‘84 "The Fox" was by Alex Toth and the Black Hood with the great work of Gray Morrow. Otherwise, one can only wonder what might have been if Straczynski's interpretations of the MLJ characters had lasted, but, as all too often happened, they were here and then they were gone. Once again for an all-too-short time, we had the excellent crime thriller-oriented "Black Hood" and Dean Haspiel's quirky take on "The Fox" from Dark Circle Comics. More importantly, we have the MLJ Companion, a remarkable work composed of comprehensive reference material.
Top reviews from other countries
Even if you have little interest in these characters, it's a great read if you have an interest in comic history and how the sausages get made