With the J. Michael Straczynski-scripted "Changeling" coming to multiplexes across North America this week, CBR News checked in with the fan favorite writer to see what we can expect from his next major project, folding the classic Archie Comics line of superheroes of the forties and fifties into the fabric of the DC Universe proper in the pages of "The Brave and The Bold" next year.
"I grew up on the Archie characters, in particular The Fly and The Shield, which is why they'll be the first two characters to show up in 'The Brave and the Bold.' The key has been to research their initial origin stories and find ways to contemporize them without losing what made those origins work," Straczynski told CBR News.
Created by the legendary team behind Captain America, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby introduced The Fly under the Red Circle Comics banner in "The Double Life of Private Strong" #1 in June, 1959. By sliding a fly-shaped ring on his finger, orphaned-boy Tommy Troy summoned Turan, a surviving member of the Fly People who once ruled the Earth, from another dimension. By rubbing the ring and saying, "I wish I were The Fly," he transformed into a costumed adult superhero.
The Shield, created by writer Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick, first appeared in "PEP" #1 in January, 1940. Continuing the work of his slain father, chemist Joe Higgins creates a chemical formula that combined with a special light gives him super strength.
DC attempted to revive both characters once before for their Impact imprint in the early 1990s, which depicted the Red Circle heroes in their own universe.
Straczynski - JMS to his fans - confirmed these re-imagined heroes will be part of the DCU moving forward, and some may even receive primetime treatment. "The goal is to really give them a leg up on that process," said JMS, who will be a Guest of Honor at New York Comic Con in February around the time his first issue on the title is expected to be released. "I want to tie many of them up with a given villain so that there's an entry point through an established antagonist.
"I'm not doing long arcs with these re-introductions, just two to three issues max per character," he added. "I'd even like to be able to do the occasional intro in one issue. I want the book to be new-reader-friendly.
"And once they've appeared in 'The Brave and the Bold,' they can be used by the rest of the DCU books, and some of them may get their own titles."
JMS said his run, which will be illustrated by JesÃºs SaÃz ("Checkmate," "Manhunter"), will not be tied to an overarching plot thread. "There isn't one storyline," said JMS. "I'm taking the book back to its more episodic roots."
Batman was front and center in the teaser image released at Comic-Con back in July, and when asked which DC superheroes would be mixing it up with the Mighty Crusaders of Archie fame, JMS answered, "Certainly all of the big guns from the DCU will be on hand, all the names you'd expect. And on the Archie side, we're starting out with The Shield, then The Fly, Black Hood, and on from there."
Black Hood, another Shorten creation, debuted in "Top Notch Comics"#9 in October, 1940. Former police officer Matthew Kipling "Kip" Burland possessed no superpowers, but was trained by a hermit to fight after being framed for grand larceny by a villain known only as The Skull. Once he cleared his name, he continued fighting crime under his mask, which, not-surprisingly, was a black hood.
Last time CBR News spoke with JMS, he revealed he would be writing a second ongoing series for DC. But there is no news to report yet on that front. "Not at this time," said JMS, who also continues to write "Thor" for Marvel Comics.
JMS' other major work for the House of Ideas is "The Twelve," a similar project to that of his upcoming run on "The Brave and The Bold," as the 12-part miniseries reinvigorates twelve obscure characters from Marvel's Golden Age forerunner, Timely Comics.