There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle around Archie Comics’s forthcoming Mighty Crusaders: The Shield one-shot. Back in December the publisher announced that Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld would be writing and drawing a series of one-shots revamping Archie’s superhero line, with the first book focusing on the star-spangled hero The Shield. Preview art released at the time included pages of a younger version of The Shield, as well as what appeared to be an older, gun-toting, Cable-esque version of the character. The one-shot was solicited in March for a June release, with a number of variant covers including one labeled “Top Secret.”
Well apparently somebody can’t keep a secret, as a few weeks ago a post featuring a previously unseen cover to the issue popped up on Liefeld’s Facebook page. An upset Liefeld then for some reason reshared the image himself so everyone could see it, saying that it spoiled a key plot point of the issue and that he would be leaving the project as a result.
“When the key plot point/element is revealed on a retail variant cover – it’s probably time to exit the stage on this one…. like seriously?” Liefeld wrote along with the image, which reveals both the younger The Shield and the older The Shield in the same frame. In an update to the post, Liefeld said that he had been informed by Archie that “they did not grant permission for this to be posted and shared, much less tagged to my page. Anyway, it would have been great, but this was kind of the back breaker. Really dumb. It was fun while it lasted… on to the next!”
Referring to the cover’s leaking as “the back breaker” seems to indicate there was other friction between Liefeld and Archie, though he did not go into further detail. Since then the status of Archie’s Mighty Crusaders line has been somewhat up in the air, but today the publisher posted on social media that they will still be publishing the The Shield one-shot with Liefeld’s artwork, and a new scripter brought on to finish the book.
Please read this important update regarding THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS: THE SHIELD #1. pic.twitter.com/wkE56g6s1H
— Archie Comics (@ArchieComics) May 19, 2021
The message from Archie reads:
Archie Comics is pleased to inform our fans and retail partners that the release of The Mighty Crusaders: The Shield #1 will proceed and hit its originally scheduled release date of June 30th in the direct market.
A new writer is being brought in to script the issue based on Mr. Liefeld’s artwork. Please stay tuned to our social media pages and website for more updates as they become available.
Archie Comics would like to thank our retailer partners and the fans for their patience and understanding as we worked on reaching an amicable conclusion to this project.
We look forward to everyone enjoying The Shield #1 upon its release in comic book shops on June 30th, featuring an assortment of incredible variant covers from talented artists across the comic book industry.
We encourage any retailer partners with questions or concerns to reach out to Archie Comics directly via email and we will be happy to help them in any way that we can.
That last bit likely refers to retailers wishing to change their order numbers on the issue now that Liefeld is no longer writing the issue. Final order cut-off for the one-shot is on June 7th, so they should have plenty of time to make any adjustments needed.
Though whether Liefeld had completed work on the full The Shield one-shot is also somewhat in question. Shortly after Archie released their statement, Liefeld took to Twitter about the situation, and indicated that he had not completed all of the art for the one-shot:
Fun facts. SHIELD #1 had a June 30th release date. I exited the project on May 8, activating the release in my contract. I have turned in all the final art files for work I produced that was paid for. As I do on any project, I work out of order and sequences are incomplete.
Again, I appreciate that Archie representatives solicited and ultimately recruited me over many months in order to do this work. I was excited to expose these characters to a new generation. Despite “Creative Differences” I offered to complete the issue but this has been rejected
And that as they say, is that.
Frankly this sounds a bit like Liefeld trying to have it both ways – that he stormed off the project over creative differences, but also that he was asked not to complete work on the book. You can’t both quit and be fired, after all.
Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what Mighty Crusaders: The Shield #1 looks like when it arrives in stores at the end of June, and what this means for the rest of Archie’s planned revamp of their superhero line.