Take a dash of Peter Parker’s early Spider-Man adventures, then meld the exoskeleton of DNAgents onto the template of He-Man, then expand that out by the next generation of Joe Simon (his son, Jim) and you have ShieldMaster!
What follows is a special two-in-one review of the ShieldMaster Phoenix Project and ShieldMaster Comics #1, both from FutureRetro Entertainment.
This review is written by Joeseph Simon, no relation to Joe or Jim Simon.
Joe Simon fans and old school readers now have a call to action: Get your hands on ShieldMaster. Do so before the villainous Smith does!
Joe Simon is known for being the Simon in the powerhouse team of Simon and Kirby. The team created Captain America, along with many other comics to help build the foundation of the comic industry. Joe Simon, who is no longer with us, is the father of Jim Simon. Jim created and wrote ShieldMaster. The story of ShieldMaster is complimented by various characters that Jim’s father created. For example, The Fly and Blue Bolt are back-up stories to ShieldMaster Comics #1.
I’ve studied and collected the heroes of the Mighty Crusaders for decades. Lancelot Strong and the Fly caught my eye when they appeared on the cover of the first issue of Red Circles Mighty Crusaders from Rick Buckler.
At that time I did not know Joe Simon created Lancelot Strong (aka Shield) and the Fly in 1959.
I would later discover that 1959 appearance was part of the relaunching of Archie’s superhero line. Joe Simon was an instrumental part of this push. Much like Buckler was instrumental with the 80’s relaunch of Red Circle.
Nor was I aware of how many relaunches there would be in the future!
In 1999, Archie returned the rights to Lancelot Strong and the Fly to the Simon Estate.
SHIELDMASTER: THE PHOENIX PROJECT
The ShieldMaster graphic novel introduces us to the bizarre (in a good way) sci-fi mixed with superhero concepts. Brought to you by the team of Simon, Jean Depelley (writers) and Reed Man (art).
Four teens wander into a restricted militarized zone and uncover alien artifacts. These artifacts are alien shields that grant powers to the teens.
No doubt being a teenager is hard. All four teens are on the cusp of adulthood, everything changing. I remember it well. Everyone has to adjust. It’s exceptionally hard on the teen, Jess, who takes the lead of the team. Jess recently lost his mother, and gaining superpowers isn’t making anything easy.
The big bad extra-dimensional evil is Smith AKA Annihilatron. Smith defeated the last bearers of the shield artifacts and is intent on doing the same to Jess and his friends.
If you enjoyed the golden, silver, and /or bronze age of comics, you’ll feel at home with ShieldMaster. The threats are menacing. Being a hero is just as confusing as ever. The stories are exciting as later day comics. Jim excels at carrying that tradition on.
This graphic novel sets everything up for what is to come after. It’ll be a good reference point for people to reread. A lot is compacted in the pages that will, I suspect play out, as the story continues in ShieldMaster Comics#1.
ShieldMaster Comics continues the story you’ll read in the graphic novel. Instead of a graphic novel, this features ShieldMaster in an anthology styled comic. The Fly is on board in a new story by Jim Simon and a Blue Bolt reprint by Joe Simon rounds out the comic.
ShieldMaster continues the story from The Phoenix Project. The team learns how to deal with their powers. New characters are introduced. There is a feeling of a far bigger story brewing that even hinted at in the graphic novel. We end on a cliffhanger hinting at greater dangers.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the shield-wielding teens of ShieldMaster explore this storyline. I am also looking forward to the continued adventures of the Fly.
The Fly features Fly bad guy Spider Spry (along with bad guy Bruiser) in a story that features the Fly hypnotized into thinking he’s one of Spider Spry’s guys and committing crimes on Spider Spry’s behalf. This new Fly story is written by Jim Simon, Reed Man, and Jean Depelley with art by Reed Man.
I have always enjoyed Blue Bolt reprints. Blue Bolt is a heroic science fiction story. Created by Simon, the series in its initial publishing was taken over by other comic creators. An impressive list of people came on board including Dan Barry (famous for his work on Airboy, Captain Midnight, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and even Spider-Man), Tim Gill (known for his work on Lone Ranger) and Mike Hammer creator Mickey Spillane.
Blue Bolt holds a special place for many readers including Glenn Danzig (the singer from Danzig and the Misfits). Danzig published Blue Bolt reprints himself under his Verotika imprint.
This reprint features a classic Joe Simon on both story and art. We are presented with a story featuring Blue Bolt and his continuing fight against the evil Green Sorceress.
I also interviewed Jim Simon on ShieldMaster here.
How do you purchase either of these two?
ShieldMaster: The Phoenix Project
ShieldMaster Comics #1
Contact FutureRetro Entertainment directly at
for both ShieldMaster: The Phoenix Project and ShieldMaster Comics.