On tonight's episode of Riverdale, Archie Andrews dug through his bedroom and discovered an item that would inspire him to take justice into his own hands: a Red Circle comic featuring The Mighty Crusaders, a superhero team published by Archie Comics.
(Conveniently, there is a new series launching featuring those characters very soon.)
The comic inspired Archie to put together a neighborhood watch-style group called the Red Circle, who would come and accompany vulnerable teens in order to prevent them being attacked by the Black Hood. One such call came in from Ethel Muggs, who was being followed by a creeper in a van, and while she was rescued, there was no sign of the driver by the time Archie and Reggie showed up to help.
What is interesting about the first appearance of the Red Circle superheroes on the series is that Archie has always been depicted as a comic book fan -- but in the past, his preferences skewed heavily toward DC.
During a set visit last year, ComicBook.com took note of all the comics visible in Archie's bedroom and the garage where he practiced his music (remember when that was a thing?). They were mostly DC titles, with a few Archie books thrown in here and there, likely as in-jokes, but there were no Red Circle superhero comics.
In his room, there were comics and posters featuring then-new DC Rebirth titles, and the inside of Archie's locker featured postcard-sized images of the same.
The move toward Red Circle superheroes makes sense: Archie owns them, so you can use the likeness and the idea that they have "inspired" Archie without potentially running afoul of the copyright police of with The CW's buddies at DC Comics.
In an ironic twist, while the TV show had previously featured DC Comics imagery (owing perhaps to Warner Bros.' partial ownership of The CW and/or the involvement of Arrow EP Greg Berlanti in the show's production), similar scenes in the Riverdale tie-in comic from Archie (including shots of his bedroom and locker) have always featured the Red Circle characters.0comments
One antihero from the current Black Circle line -- that's Red Circle superheroes with a grown-up edge -- is The Black Hood, a Punisher-style good guy who kills bad guys. His likeness and, it seems, methodology, are the inspiration behind the season's big bad, who in this episode was named after The Black Hood.
Riverdale airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.