This month saw the release of the latest adventure of the MIGHTY CRUSADERS in a collected edition. The series itself looks fantastic, with IAN FLYNN returning as writer, alongside artists KELSEY SHANNON and RYAN JAMPOLE, colorist MATT HERMS, and letterer JACK MORELLI. ALEX SEGURA and VINCENT LOVALLO guide the ship as editors, all under the watchful eyes of editor-in-chief VICTOR GORELICK and publisher JON GOLDWATER.
The first thing you’ll notice about this collection is the absolutely gorgeous packaging and production of the collection itself. There’s a certain “feel” to the cover and the pages that’s just fantastic. I’ve seen other companies using this same type of cardstock on their editions, and it’s one that I love. It feels good in the hand, and is thick enough to feel like your $12.99 is well-spent, while not being so much material that you have a hard time holding onto it as you’re trying to read it. And speaking of exactly what it is we’re reading, this collection brings together 2018’s four-issue MIGHTY CRUSADERS limited series, along with the never-before-printed digital DARK TOMORROW story that followed the late, lamented NEW CRUSADERS project of years gone by under a nice introduction by Flynn himself.
The meat of the story itself deals with Victoria Adams, the current SHIELD’s attempt to deal with her role as field leader of the team. However, this is hampered by Joe Higgins, the ORIGINAL SHEILD’s constant mucking with the team’s line-up without her input. Bringing in a back-from-the-dead-without-any-explanation-whatsoever original STEEL STERLING, adding DARKLING to the roster simply to make sure she doesn’t become one of the bad guys, and the return of Wyatt Raymond, THE WEB in the middle of their fight with DINO REX. Joe himself has changed quite a bit from the previous NEW CRUSADERS project, going from an old, white-haired and bearded statesman to one who looks more like he’s late middle-aged with brown hair and an apparent injury sidelining him from active duty. This project also features the return of some classic villains in the form of THE ELIMINATORS, as well as the threat of ETERNOS! So there’s a LOT of good in this.
Unfortunately, the sometimes-seemingly-random changes from the last time we saw the group, despite two pages dedicated to an attempt at continuity from what came before, are what bother me the most. Flynn states in his introduction that if you missed out on the previous NEW CRUSADERS BOOK, or Victoria’s solo adventure under the revised “DARK CIRCLE” heading (the books had been under the “Red Circle” branding previously), that they didn’t want you to feel lost. He calls this project “…something of a spiritual successor to New Crusaders, rather than a direct sequel.” And in my opinion, this attempt actually caused me more confusion than simply a direct sequel would have. Now, this may not bother you as much as it does me, or maybe you can write it off as another variation on the path of the multiversal “Blue Ribbon”, but I grew up with a solid continuity. And when writers like Kurt Busiek can make sense out of all the contradictory KANG stories, then surely a couple dedicated lines here and there addressing the changes to those who may not understand why things are different should have been simple enough. But that very well may just be my own personal hang up, and you may not have any issue whatsoever.
Overall, this is a really fun project that I thoroughly enjoyed, personal above-stated nitpicks aside. All the creators involved are top-notch, telling a good, solid story both through the writing and the art, and as I said previously, the production value is so very nice.
But the big question is: Can I recommend this…?
Absolutely. Without hesitation.
Ask for more