Riverdale: The Red Circle's Comic Book Origins Explained

The 3rd episode of the soapy Archie Comics-based CW drama Riverdale, "Watcher in the Woods," saw the threat of the Man in the Black Hood looming large over the town. Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) had barely recovered from the attack on his father, Fred (Luke Perry), in Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe when his friends Moose (Cody Kearsley) and Midge (Emilija Baranac) and his creepy former teacher Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel) were targeted as well. Tired of feeling helpless, Archie decided to do something to fight back and protect his friends and loved ones.

Archie assembles a group of Riverdale students, including his friend Reggie (Charles Melton), into a watchdog group. Consisting of mostly football players they hang up fliers around the town asking for news about the Man in the Black Hood. They drive around with a car full of wrenches and pipes hoping to catch the bad guy. It's not a very well thought out plan, but the students see it as better than doing nothing.

Archie decides to call this vigilante student group the Red Circle. He gets this name from a comic book he finds in his garage, featuring superheroes from the Archie Comic Universe. The Red Circle has a connection to the Archie comics, but not in the way you might think; it's not a person or the name of a group, but an imprint of Archie Comics. Red Circle Comics started out in the 1970's publishing stories of fantasy and horror, namely Chilling Adventures in Sorcery featuring Sabrina. Later, the imprint turned to publishing stories of superheroes, including Archie's Superhero Special and The Mighty Crusaders, the comics featured in this episode.

The original 'Man in the Black Hood'

The Mighty Crusaders were a team of superheroes featuring, most notably for Riverdale fans, the Black Hood. In these comics, the Black Hood was actually a superhero named Matthew "Kip" Burland - an ex-cop who fought crime. Is this a clue that the masked man on Riverdale might not be so bad after all? Maybe in his own way, the Man in the Black Hood is working to rid the town of some of its seedier elements. He did get rid of Ms. Grundy, after all...

Nothing in Riverdale is ever what it seems, so it would make sense that the killer terrorizing the town would be no different. Another superhero show wouldn't be out of place on the CW, especially when the Riverdale universe is also set to introduce a witch in the near future. There has been plenty of talk about superheroes this season already from showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa comparing Archie to Bruce Wayne to a comic hero Easter Egg in the season 2 premiere.

In a very timely move, Archie Comics is actually rebooting The Mighty Crusaders comics in December, written by Ian Flynn and with art by Kelsey Shannon. They also previously had an 11 issue comic called The Black Hood in 2016- featuring an antihero who looks very much like his Riverdale counterpart. Including nods to the original source material and continuing the original series is a great way to add to the history of Archie Comics.

Next: Riverdale: 5 Characters Who Could Be The Man In The Black Hood

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 PM on the CW.

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