Mighty Crusaders 1

The Mighty Crusaders #1, November 1965

The Mighty Crusaders vs. The Brain Emperor

The Mighty Crusaders gather in a field

Standing in the middle of a remote field, our heroes, the Comet, the Black Hood, the Shield, Fly-Girl and Fly-Man, are loitering in front of a tv camera preparing to form themselves into a new super group: the Mighty Crusaders. Suddenly, a craft lands nearby and five weird characters emerge. The newcomers attack the would-be super group.

The Mighty Crusaders attacked!

In fairly short order, the bad guys are defeated by our heroes. The Shield dodges Thronaldo’s deadly thorns, and throws him into a quicksand bog. “And so ends the macabre threat of the eerie creature Thornaldo and his thorns of terror!” says the Shield as he watches Thornaldo drown (“Urgle! Gurgle!”).

Drown?

Yep, drown. Who says heroes were squeaky-clean in the Silver Age?

The Black Hood’s robot horse sacrifices itself to defeat Bombor in an act of mutual self-destruction. Fly-Girl takes on Wax-Man, whose head is on fire. Luckily, our gal has the presence of mind to flap her wings and extinguish the fire — and Wax-Man falls down dead. Then the Comet kills Electroso by shorting him out. Man, it’s a massacre!

But, wait. It’s not all death and destruction. Fly-Man takes on the seemingly undefeatable Force-Man, who can “multiply a thousand-fold within myself any power that assaults me!”

Fly Man doesn't stand a chance

It seems Fly-Man hasn’t got a chance when suddenly Force Man just flies off. Fly-Man explains that all he did was concentrate on “doing good.” Force Man absorbed those positive thoughts and was reformed! Oh happy day!

Everyone the world over — the world is watching via tv — celebrates the defeat of the bad guys, and looks forward to the Mighty Crusaders’ formation ceremony continuing. Sadly, the Crusaders themselves are bickering and it looks like the team is over before it’s even begun.

The evil Brain Emperor

It quickly becomes apparent that orbiting in space is an evil alien called the Brain Emperor — and, sure enough, it is he who is responsible for our heroes’ current woes. He steals a new top secret atomic alloy, Goztrark, and then goes off to stand before the bickering heroes and gloat — as bad guys were wont to do in the 60s.

Under his mental control the Mighty Crusaders attack a military force sent to retrieve the Goztrark. Fly-Man and Fly-Girl grow to giant size and stomp on the soldiers. The Shield bounces by, deflecting bullets as he goes. The Comet uses the power of his amazing rainbow helmet to render the military’s missiles harmless. All seems hopeless. “Our world is now owned by a heartless oppressor!” exclaim onlookers.

Not content with mere world domination, the Brain Emperor launches a “sin-satellite” into orbit. Its radiations will cause all Earth peoples to “hate, hate, hate” one another. “It’s that old ‘divide and conquer’ jazz, eh?” queries the Black Hood, impressed.

Fearing that the Mighty Crusaders may one day overcome his mental re-programming and rise up to defeat him, the Brain Emperor links them all to a device that will reduce their brain capacities. Suddenly, the Brian Emperor falls to the floor.

The Brain Emperor defeated

It seems that with their minds linked by the villain’s machine, our heroes are now able to cast off their programming and mentally overcome the villain. Hooray! They command the Brain Emperor to return to his home planet where he will surrender himself to captivity.

The Comet then explains that the power of the Sin-Satellite reacted with his Rainbow helmet, allowing him to free himself from the Brain Emperor’s will, and organise the rebellion. Lucky, that.

At last, the Mighty Crusaders are able to finish the ceremony and formally declare themselves open for business. Yay!

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In 1938 Jerry Siegel was on a high: his and Joe Shuster’s Superman was proving a big hit, newspapers were becoming interested, radio beckoned, and the future looked bright. Unfortunately, by 1965, his career was in the doldrums. He had just been fired from DC comics for the second time over a legal battle to regain the rights to Superman. He needed work. Luckily, Archie Comics (the former MLJ) had decided to try to revive the fortunes of their super-hero line in an attempt to cash in on Marvel’s new-found popularity. It seemed Siegel was the right man for the job, and “Mighty Comics” was born. First off, the moribund Fly title was restyled as Fly-Man and other super-heroes were brought in. Marvel was doing well with teams like the Avengers and Fantastic Four, DC had the Justice League, so bringing the Archie heroes together seemed a natural idea.

Reading these comics, it’s clear that Siegel was under a brief to emulate Stan Lee’s approach to super-hero material. His attempts at “hip” dialogue and irreverence are often painful it has to be said, which is a shame. It’s all good fun, though, and Siegel, as ever, proves himself to be a master plotter. The art is by Paul Reinman — of “Dick, Vic, Bob and Paul” fame.

Images ©2010 Archie Comics