The Mighty Crusaders first appeared in Fly-Man #31 on May 1965. and were created by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, along with Paul Reinman. This ensemble of heroes were Archie Comics' answer to the superhero team fashion that was made possible by DC Comics' contribution with the Justice Society of America and Justice League of America and Marvel Comics' own contribution, The Avengers. The first version of this team consisted of Black Hood, The Comet, The Fly-Man, Fly Girl, and The Shield III, son of the original Shield. Their enemies varied from Spy Lord, Thornaldo, Bombor, to even The Hangman and The Wizard, two heroes who were inexplicably turned to villains. Their adventures lasted until October 1966, with Issue #7 being their last issue.
Red Circle Comics Incarnation
The next version of the Mighty Crusaders arrived under the Red Circle Comics banner, and made their presence seen on March 1983 with The Mighty Crusaders #1. This incarnation of the Mighty Crusaders was different from its predecessor, on the basis that Fly-Man reverted his name to The Fly, and that The Web, Jaguar, and Lancelot Strong joined the team, along with a Wizard that's back to being a hero once again, and having a new member in Darkling. Their series would last over twice as long as the original series, but it had to endure some deaths from the first Black Hood, Lancelot Strong, and Darkling. Their story would end in Issue #13 on September 1985.
Impact Comics Incarnation
DC Comics then decided to give a shot at making their own version of Archie's Mighty Crusaders, after obtaining the licenses to the characters to publish them under the Impact Comics imprint. The notable difference is that the adjective "Mighty" was dropped, and were just simply named "The Crusaders". Unfortunately, they lasted only eight issues, from May 1992 with Issue #1, to December 1992 with Issue #8.
The Mighty Crusaders Special #1
The story begins with a meeting of the Global Concern based in New York. The head of the Global Concern is enraged over the failure that took place one week ago. Their leader Doctor Zarda shoots one of the members of the Board for the botch mission. Zarda then asks another member of the Board, Ms. Frey, to give him all the information they have about the metahumans who ruined their operation last week.
There is flashback a week ago where an auction for super villains is being held by The Auctioneer, who is considered a world-renowned for his discretion and quality of merchandise. The Auctioneer is beginning to start the bid on a strange metal box whose contents are unknown and impossible to open. Suddenly, the Web smashes into the room. The Web knock the Auctioneer and seize the metal box. The Web then flies off with the box. We see a mysterious looking woman, who wanted to buy the box, teleport away from the scene.
We then see that the Web is flying away from the scene. We see the mysterious woman teleporting behind him and following him. Once The Web thinks he is safe the mysterious woman appears in front of the Web and attacks him. We learn that her name is The Persian and that she was the Global Concern’s agent that was sent to buy the metal box. The Web and the Persian battle, with the Web finally getting the upper hand which leaves the Persian teleporting away from the scene.
We then see that The Inferno arriving with the rest of Group Epsilon. Infernos boss propels Inferno into the field to get the metal box from the Web. General Latham then contacts Inferno through a secret line and tells Inferno that Group Epsilon cannot come into possession of the metal box. We cut to Inferno catching up with the Web where the two heroes brawl. The Web refuses to give Inferno the metal box.
While Inferno and the Web are brawling, a crook known as the Buzzard leaps in and seizes the metal box. The Web grabs the Buzzard. The Buzzard stuns the Web. Inferno grabs the unconscious Web from falling off the building. The Buzzard flies off with the box. Inferno and Web make friends and realize they are on the same side.
Later the Hangman is seen pursuing the Buzzard. The Hangman attack the Buzzard. Hangman obtains the box and defeats the Buzzard by teleporting him some where else. The Web, Inferno and Comet then arrive on the scene.
The Hangman explains that the box was originally a safe. That it was Abraham Lincoln’s idea. It was used to contain all the strange secrets, creatures and discoveries that were found in the American West until now where the Hangman believes that the glass of the hourglass is broken and that it needs to be repaired before what is inside of it gets out.
The Hangman then uses the secret combination to open the box. There is a huge explosion of green energy and a shadowy figure pops out of the box. The figure screams for our heroes to kill “it.” Suddenly, a large metal robot spider comes out of the box. The metal spider stabs the figure made of shadows. Our heroes start battling with the metal spider. We see that General Latham’s helicopter has arrived on the scene. Latham orders the Shield to join the battle. The Shield jumps out of the helicopter and attacks the giant robot spider. The Shield becomes the natural leader of our four heroes and starts barking out orders. Our heroes combine their abilities to defeat the spider and close the metal box. The figure of shadows asks if he found the right door. The right universe. The shadowy figure then disappears.
We shift to the Shield, the Web, Inferno and Hangman meeting with General Latham. Latham tells our heroes to join his team if they want answers to what is going on. Hangman states that the metal box was built as a doorway to a place that is decidedly other. And its inhabitants are also strange and bizarre. Latham says that there are villains and terrorists who wanted this metal box for the extra-dimensional portal it holds. For conquest or to harvest more creatures like what they battled today. Latham says the box has housed secrets like the ones contained in Project Liberty.
Latham holds a large book with the name Project Liberty on its cover. Latham says that they need to find the shadowy figure because he had access to every secret in the box while he was inside of the box. Latham says that there is a conspiracy hidden with the most secret organizations in the military like Project: Shield and Group Epsilon and beyond. Latham says that the Web, Shield, Hangman and Inferno are now all targets of the villains and terrorists who wanted the metal box. Latham gives each of the heroes a secure communications ear piece that he can use to contact them virtually anywhere on the planet. Latham says that they will use this location outside of as their safehouse. Latham says that this will be dangerous and that they all need to stick together. Our heroes all agree to do so.
We hop back to the present day at the meeting of the Global Concern in New York . Ms. Frey tells Zarda that they do not know the identity of the man made of shadows that sprang forth from the metal box. Zarda orders for her to find the man of shadows.
We slide over to the Group Epsilon Safehouse. We see that they have the shadowy man in a clear cube prison. The leader of Group Epsilon tells the shadowy man to tell her everything that he read while in the metal box. The shadowy man keeps asking if he found the right door. The man says that he thinks he was a secret. The leader of Group Epsilon walks away. We see her ears become pointed, her eyes flow yellow and a magical symbol appear on her forehead. She says that the door the shadowy man opened only spells trouble.
Later in the Web has a brief chat with Kitcat going over what is transpiring over a secret base in Colorado, where all of the Web's 98 Web Hosts are being remotely controlled by The Global Concern in order to discredit Web further, while preventing Web from regaining control through firmware updates due to the software declaring to be updated before. He noticed that there was one Web Host that wasn't affected by the override, for the fact that Host was nowhere near the others. He looks up her information, to find out that Kim Brand has not only the best effectiveness scores, but has also significantly modified her Web suit into a different outfit, and calls herself Fly Girl. Web goes to her place, first under threatening her to sue her for modifying her suit and breaching her contract. Unequivocally, she didn't budge, and dropped Web fast, forcing Web to compromise by canceling his lawsuit if she helps him. Fly Girl quickly agrees to this stipulation and joins Web in order to stop the Web Hosts from doing more damage. Unfortunately for both of them, Doctor Zadar had a mole amongst the Web Hosts, and used him to send an explosive payload to eliminate The Cell, who was located there. The moles had dropped the package onto The Cell, eliminating them in the process, and from there on, the Web Hosts are commanded to attack Web and Fly Girl. Web goes in headfirst by getting to each individual Web Host and using an external USB drive to plug into each host's suit so it can be given back control to the wearer. Web quickly makes progress, but is met with more remote resistance from the remaining Hosts, who drive Web underwater. Fly Girl comes to help him, followed by the Hosts who Web thought were still under the override The Global Concern has put. Thankfully, Fly Girl managed to fix the rest of the Hosts' suits, thus severing the grip of the Concern's control of the suits. Web was quick to congratulate himself and Fly Girl for saving the Hosts, but Kim was quick to point out that an explosion just happened, and that this would've been avoided if he were more cooperative with other people. To that suggestion, General Latham came out once again to show him that by working together with his new group of teammates, they can be Mighty.