Review: The Crusaders #1

The Crusaders #1 cover
Cover by Jackson Guice (as Butch Guice)

The Crusaders #1
Published and © by The Guild, 1982

Title: “The Crusaders”
Synopsis: A kidnapping in Atlanta brings four super-powered heroes together to become the Crusaders (soon to be the Southern Knights!)

Writers: Henry Vogel and Audrey Vogel
Penciler: Jackson Guice (as Butch Guice)
Inker: Guice (with an assist from James Cassara, Brian Guice and Al Ramirez)

Review: Self-published passion projects like The Crusaders can be tricky to review, as they are often long on potential but short on execution. That’s certainly the case here. For every clever bit of dialogue or unique characterization, there’s a superhero cliché or plot contrivance. For every panel displaying a young Butch Guice’s already-signature style, there’s a poorly inked figure or sloppy background. (According to an artist’s note, several inkers had to pitch in when Guice broke an arm on deadline. That certainly doesn’t help with consistency.) The net result? The Crusaders #1 is more fun than good – and that’s just fine.

Grade: C

Second opinion: “Although Guice quickly left the book, he played an important role in designing the distinctive visual ‘look’ of each character.” – Michael E. Krupp, Comic Effect #23, Summer 1999 

Cool factor: The ATL gets its own superteam.

Notable: First appearance of the Southern Knights (as the Crusaders). … This series becomes The Southern Knights its second issue due to a trademark dispute with Red Circle’s Mighty Crusaders.

Character quotable: “Hmm. What food these mortals be.” – Dragon, just kidding (we hope)

A word from the co-creator: “We more or less made him an extension of ourselves: A comic-book fan who could do more than just fantasize about becoming a superhero.” – Henry Vogel, talking about Electrode, the first of the Southern Knights to be developed, in the foreward to “The Southern Knights Graphic Novel,” 1986

Editor’s note: This review was written Feb. 15, 2021.

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