So for a good year now, Archie Comics has teased us with how they are relaunching the New Crusaders as a digital only comic and it would blow us away. Recently that has changed, and Archie announced New Crusaders will be both digital and print; the twist is it will be available in parts digitally first, and then those parts will be collected into the printed issue second (similar to DC Comics with their Beyond digital titles).
So now that you’re not “forced” to go digital to read it, why should you care about the new app? Well, let’s talk about it. The app (which was available Tuesday 5/15/2012, a day earlier than expected, to hardcore fans’ joy) is part MAD Magazine-app, part Netflix.
Cost: The cost for the app is free, but to actually have access to the comics material to read, you buy a subscription. This subscription is $0.99 a week, so weekly you will get charged a buck for it (so 4-5 bucks your spending per month).
New Material: So if you are hardcore about the New Crusaders (which I will review in a separate article, but heads up, I did enjoy it), you will weekly get a new installment of 6-7 pages of the adventure. You download the comic onto your iPad or given device. You can always delete it at anytime to save room without worry, because as long as you have your subscription active, you can re-download.
The Archives: This is why I say it’s like Netflix in a way, and probably the reason why folks will get the app. The Archive has classic comics from the Red Circle universe, all the way back to 1940’s Pep Comics #1 and into the 1980s. Like the new material, this material you download onto your device and can delete/re-download at anytime as long as you have the subscription. Not everything ever printed is up there, but for its launch, there is a ton of classic stuff there to read, and supposedly it will be updated frequently. The only thing that will bug some fans about the Archive is that the issues are just scans of the actual book, meaning color-issues, a slight warped look on some pages, handfuls of dialog boxes are hard to read even on my iPad, etc. These are not the brightly re-colored digital Golden age stuff, like if you bought Batman #1 off Comixology; in fact in some places you can see the staples of the binding, etc., which is gonna annoy the hell out of some people. It’s really just here to help immerse yourself in this universe that most modern readers don’t know anything about, and in that aspect to fill in gaps, does its job well. Example, reading the first issue of The Sheild from the 80s, there was a reference note to Pep Comics #1 about these robots in the tale, in which I then jumped to and read Pep Comics #1, and totally understood the depth and whole story (wish I had this growing up with Marvel and their damn reference notes). So yes, the Archive is amazingly cool and the only way to read a ton of Red Circle comics at your finger tips, even if the presentation of the material in the archive is far from perfect.
Blog/Bios: Like the MAD-app, you get access to the blog which takes you over the interwebs and onto the New Crusaders web page. There is also a fun bio page where you can bring up pics and facts about the new New Crusaders (kind of like the bios you can download for free on the DC Nation app).
So overall, how is it? I think for a buck a week it’s worth the cost. That dollar is really paying for the new New Crusaders (which is good for its first installments). Everything else is just a really cool bonus. The presentation could be better, and perhaps over time they will improve it (no one likes seeing part of the next page scanned onto the page you’re currently reading, it’s just awkward, Archie). If you are remotely interested in the Red Circle heroes, give it a shot and don’t wait for the print.