Shield (Archie Comics)

Shield (Archie Comics)


caption="Pep Comics" #1 (January 1940), first appearance of The Shield, drawn by Irv Novick.
character_name=The Shield
real_name=Joe Higgins
publisher=MLJ (Archie Comics)
debut="Pep Comics" #1 (January 1940)
creators=Harry Shorten
Irv Novick
alliances=Mighty Crusaders
powers=The Shield has limited superstrength, invulnerability, leap superhuman distances, and wears an indestructible costume. |

The Shield is the name of several fictional patriotic superheroes created by MLJ (now known as Archie Comics). The Shield has the distinction of being one of the first superheroes with a costume based upon the American Flag, beating out Captain America by fourteen months. (Mister America, who later became Americommando is often named as the very first as he appeared at the same time as Superman in "Action Comics" #1, June, 1938, 16 months before The Shield and thus beating Captain America by some 30 months. During this period however he was an adventurer in plain clothes called Tex Thomson and did not become the Americommando, nor was he referred to by that name until late 1940/early 1941, well after The Shield was introduced).

The name has been used by MLJ/Archie for 3 characters. DC Comics' Impact line, which were licensed versions of the Archie characters, also used the name for several characters.

Character biography

Joe Higgins

The Shield first appeared in MLJ's "PEP" #1, dated January, 1940. The character was created by writer Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick.

The Shield is really chemist Joe Higgins, the son of Tom Higgins, slain by the Eraser while working on a chemical formula for superstrength. Joe continued his father's research and figured out the solution, which meant applying the chemicals and using a special light to give him super strength and invulnerability. He became an FBI agent, (whose secret identity is known only to FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover), and fought foreign agents and other threats to America. [ Ask the Archivist - "Didn't you guys used to publish superhero characters?"] . Accessed July 1, 2008]

He would later be joined by a kid partner, Dusty Simmons, in "Pep" #11 in 1941. His father had been killed by foreign agents, and he is adopted by Joe and given a costume. Both heroes wore their patriotic costumes beneath their street clothes and would change for action whenever the need would arise. Dusty would also partner with The Wizard's kid partner, Roy, as the "Boy Buddies". In Pep#20, he is known as "The one and only Shield" at the start of the story and "The original Shield" at the end of the story because of the success of Captain America, a copy of him. In his first appearance, Captain America even had a shield shaped like the main part of The Shield's costume, but it was changed to a round shield for the second issue as the plagiarism was too obvious.

The Shield was one of MLJ's most popular character, even spawning a club, the "Shield G-Man Club". He started in Pep, and several other MLJ titles: "Shield-Wizard", "Top Notch". But then a new character arrived who would over shadow him: Archie Andrews. He would take the Shield's cover spot on "Pep", take his fan club, and cause the end of the MLJ superheroes.

Lancelot Strong

In June 1959, a new Shield was published by Archie that had no connection to the previous version.

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had been hired by Archie to create characters for a new "Archie Adventure Series" line of superheroes (later known as Mighty Comics). They created a new Shield, whose real identity was Lancelot Strong, who appeared in a new title, "The Double Life of Private Strong". Most collectors refer to this Shield as "Lancelot Strong" to differentiate him from the previous one.

Lancelot's scientist father developed a method to create a superhuman by expanding the mind, which he used on his infant son. After his father was killed by foreign agents, Lancelot was adopted by a farm couple and raised as their son. Once he hit his teens, he discovered the truth of his background and his powers: strength, flight, near-invulnerability, vision powers, the ability to generate lightning, and a few more. His father had created a patriotic costume for him, and he started off as the new superhero, the Shield. He soon joined the Army, acting like a Gomer Pyle-style country bumpkin, while leading a double life as the Shield (hence the title of his comic). DC cried 'foul', claiming this new Shield was too similar to Superman, so after 2 issues, his comic ended.

Bill Higgins

When Archie revamped their superheroes under their "Radio Comics"/"Mighty Comics" line, a new Shield also appeared (since they probably felt they couldn't use the new Lancelot Strong Shield). This one was revealed to be the son of the original Shield.

The new Shield is Bill Higgins, son of the Original Shield. He would appear in the new "Fly-Man" #31, and becomes one of the main founders of the Mighty Crusaders. It would be revealed that his father was turned to stone by the villain, The Eraser, and Bill was carrying on his father's work. Bill's 'powers', which seem to be enhanced strength and limited invulnerability, were derived from his costume. He would appear through the end of the Radio/Mighty Comics run.

Michael Barnes

When "Legend of the Shield" was revamped, Lt. Michael Barnes became the new Shield. Although his predecessor was implied to be single, Barnes was a married father with a young daughter. Barnes would continue as the lead character until the series' 1993 cancellation and also appeared as the Shield in the six-issue miniseries "The Crucible", which was intended to reinvent the Impact Comics line, but instead served only as a finale, for various reasons, mainly low sales. Michael Barnes would have been the star of the title "The American Shield" if Impact Comics had continued publishing.


External links

* [ Mighty Crusaders entry on Shield I]
* [ Mighty Crusaders entry on Lancelot Strong ,Shield]
* [ Mighty Crusaders entry on Shield III]
* [ Toonopedia entry on Shield I]
* [ Toonopedia entry on Lancelot Strong, Shield]
* [ International Superheroes Catalog entry on Shield I]
* [ International Superheroes Catalog entry on Lancelot Strong, Shield]
* [ International Superheroes Catalog entry on Shield III]
* [ Joe Simon's website]
* [ The (unpublished) American Shield 1 (all pages, pencilled only)]

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