Arguably the most anticipated new series from Archie Comics' Dark Circle imprint, The Shield #1 has locked down an ongoing artist -- Drew Johnson -- and scheduled a new release date.
The new release date for issue #1 will be September 16th.
“Now that we have Drew Johnson locked in as artist, I’m excited to launch The Shield #1 in September," said Dark Circle Comics Editor Alex Segura. "Obviously, this is later than we initially planned. Due to a few things out of our control, coupled with a desire to make sure we not only put out a good book, but a great one, we were unable to hit the original date. But as I’ve said before, I don’t want to rush to launch a book to hit a predetermined date if I know the second, third and following issues won’t be on time. Plus, it takes time to redefine an icon – which is what this creative team is doing. That involves a lot of back and forth, tweaking and tinkering. It’s not an exact science. But I am certain we got there with this iteration of the Shield. This new date puts us in the right spot to give this important relaunch the runway it deserves. Chuck, Adam and Drew are putting together a masterful debut issue that will get people talking. I hope you enjoy this first look at Drew’s great interior and cover art. The Shield #1 hits in September!"
Writers Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig joined ComicBook.com to talk about it at more length.
In some ways, The Shield is the face of the brand; it's certainly the most recognizable property in the Dark Circle line to many casual fans. What experience do you guys have with the character?
Adam Christopher: I first discovered The Shield – and the rest of the Red Circle/Dark Circle characters – when DC licensed them back in 2009ish. I got hooked into that world, and from there went back and unearthed as much of the old comics as possible. I’m a superhero fan through and through, and here was a whole new universe of characters to explore.
Chuck Wendig: I had no understanding! I was a fool – a fool. And now, it’s like, peeling back a layer of comics history and like Adam said, finding all this cool stuff there.
Is it a bit daunting, totally reinventing a character with so much history and a small but passionate fan base?
Christopher: It is, but it’s also terribly exciting. As you said, The Shield is THE cornerstone character of the Dark Circle universe, so to not only be invited to write for her but to be given free reign to create a brand new version, yet one that still links into the old continuity, is a tremendous honor. I think that’s an important point, too – yes, our version is new, but we haven’t just tossed aside all that rich history. She exists within the bounds of the old universe and the old characters. As a fan of the character that was pretty important to me. And a lot of fun to try and work out as we were writing!
Wendig: There exists a sort of freaky responsibility when someone hands you the keys to a house that isn’t yours and they’re like, “Go on, decorate it how you want, do your own thing.” But that’s liberating, too. Any hesitation we might’ve felt evaporated when we saw the kind of support Archie/Dark Circle was giving us.
The book has been rescheduled. Do you feel like heading into Comic Con, you're going to be champing at the bit to talk to fans about stuff they shouldn't know yet, since the first issue is two months away again?
Christopher: Absolutely! We’re so excited for this book. The new Shield kicks so much ass it’s unreal. I love her to bits, and Drew’s artwork is Off. The. Charts.
Wendig: The artwork has only amped up our desire to have this in people’s hands, yeah. But at the same time, the delay has been good – it’s allowed an even cooler comic than we anticipated to emerge.
Obviously one of the big things that we've seen is an across-the-board diversification of the demographics of superheroes. it's hard not to view the new Shield as part of that, and as a result some fans have expressed their discontent. Do you pay any attention to that kind of feedback?
Christopher: To be honest, no. What we are doing is new and exciting. I love superhero comics more than anything. It’s simple: we need modern, diverse superheroes for a modern, diverse audience. And we’re so pleased to have the opportunity to do just that.
Wendig: Yeah, anybody who is against an increased measure of diversity in comics can pretty much suck dirt. We’re not doing this because we want to hit some kind of diversity bingo – but we do want to speak to an audience larger than we two gents.
I think the two biggest things in a reimagining like this one are: How do you evoke the spirit of the original?...
Christopher: The Shield is a very particular thing – he was the first flag-wearing patriotic superhero. That has a lot of meaning, in an of itself. The new Shield continues that tradition, but 2015 is a very different time to 1940. Our new character – and our storyline – reflects that. The spirit of the original is very definitely there, but seen from a different – modern – perspective.
...And what makes your version different enough from the original to justify the reimagining?
Christopher: One of the great things about the new Shield is that she’s the same and different at the same time. She’s the Daughter of the Revolution. That might give you a hint about her origins…
Wendig: See, exactly that. So many of the patriotic heroes are bound up with WWII because WWII felt like this classic GOOD VERSUS EVIL fight, but we’re looking further back.
And going deeper into history also lets us go deeper into the larger questions about what it means to be a patriotic superhero. What does it mean to protect America?
In-story, is your character aware of a prior version of The Shield, or is this a clean slate?
Christopher: It’s both! **insert maniacal laughter here**
Wendig: **Adds maniacal laughter, wheezes, falls down**
With two writers, I always have to wonder: What's that working relationship like? Does one of you do story and the other script, or do you trade off pages?
Christopher: It’s totally 50/50 – we both plot, we both outline, we both script. For planning, we’ll both make notes and swap ideas, then jam it all together into an outline which we both work on. Scripting is slightly more regulated, purely from a practical point of view – we alternate issues, with one of us responsible for the first script draft and the other being the editor. But really, it becomes hard to remember who wrote what or who came up with an idea or a storyline. With the individual issues, regardless of who wrote the first draft, by the time you hit the second, third, fourth, our work is so tightly intermeshed it is impossible to separate. That’s the great thing about this kind of collaboration – it is truly 50/50, and because we are actually quite different writers, one of us will come up with something the other couldn’t possibly have thought of. When you start swapping ideas and concepts like that, everything is combined in something unique.
Wendig: What he’s not telling you is that any time we have a disagreement, we each teleport into a WRITER THUNDERDOME and we do battle there with various weapons from throughout history. All based on a random draw. Last match I got a blunderbuss, and he got a Labrys axe. I dare not say who won. I’ll only note that I am missing my left hand.
More to the point, our collaboration works because we’re open and interested in each other’s ideas and we’re friends, so it’s never a struggle.
What can you tell us about your first arc on The Shield that isn't already out there in solicitations?
Christopher: Diehard fans of the Archie superhero canon may be surprised when they discover the secret of our antagonist, government agent Walter Chase. Let’s just say we had a lot of fun trawling through Golden Age issues of Zip Comics…
Wendig: Really, take a look for the little connections to the other Dark Circle comics.
Is there anything you really want our readers to know about the project?
Christopher: The Shield is superhero action, it’s dark conspiracy, it’s brand new and familiar at the same time. And it looks absolutely beautiful. This is an exciting time for superhero comics, and with The Shield readers are in for a wild ride…
Wendig: Nothing I can add that isn’t just me making excited sounds like eeeee and ahhhh and then gesticulating wildly.