Wednesday, 6 November 2013

New Beginnings - Protectors Inc. #1

As a renewed imprint, J. Michael Straczynski’s Joe’s Comics has been quite a hit for me. First with Ten Grand and then with Sidekick. So with a new title out this week - Protectors Inc. - it was a no brainer to pick it up to read.

Protectors Inc. opens with what should be a fairly normal flight for the CIA followed by a trouble free car transfer too. Well it should have been until the axle of the car breaks and there follows a suspicious flash of lightning.

Segueing into a courtroom - with the aforementioned lightning as a backdrop - we are introduced to our narrator. Things aren’t going well for him as the jury are all too interested in what is going on outside. The lightning wasn’t the sign of an impending storm, but in fact a superhuman fight being held in the clouds. This is a world (or at least a United States) where the evolution of superhero has gone from patriotic protector to sponsored territorial overseer. 

Through the power of flashback we learn how an incident in the Second World War left one man imbued with superpowers. He went on to become The Patriot. Once back in the States more heroes emerged – although this is cynically commented upon as being the product of rich individuals – and Protectors Inc. was formed. A band of superheroes using their powers for good. Although times changed and people became more attracted to sponsorship deals and appearances. All except for The Patriot who disappeared from the limelight, not really wanting to have been a part of it all.

Admittedly, this is all very similar to the story Jupiter’s Legacy released months ago by Mark Millar, and although it is not by any means a copy there are a large number of parallels that can be drawn. Here we have the new era of superpowers and a breed of heroes motivated by selfish luxuries not morals. Thankfully there are also enough differences to give this new title it’s own individuality and identity. The main difference being that unlike Jupiters Legacy, the splitting of the superheroes has led them to become territorial - protective of their own chosen cities and areas, even to the point of infighting between them.

The big question is what will happen when a hero is really needed? For example, a murderer with unfinished business is on the loose...

Gordon Purcell has created the art for the issue. Most people will know him for his work on licensed tie-ins such as Star Trek, but he has also worked for both Marvel and DC across a variety of titles. Strangely I found there was a slight incongruity between the cover work on my review copy (Cover A, which Purcell co-produced) and the internal artwork, as I felt the cover was clearly stronger. In a way it was very reminiscent of Constantine - an authoritative yet enigmatic character smoking. Inside is still quite strong with colourful imagery and some good emotive characters. However with the linework being so deft, it does mean that the detail is occasionally lost. What I did find is that each of the pages felt like they contained focal points for the story.

Overall I would say that this has the potential to be a good story. I didn’t feel that there was enough development or mystery in this issue to make it an absolute must though sadly. Readers should definitely take advantage of the QR code in the back of the issue to get access to an audio version which certainly adds considerable value. As part of the Joe’s Comics brand it’s certainly worth taking a look at, but I would also suggest Ten Grand (first graphic novel hopefully due out before Christmas) and Sidekick (still on the shelves in store) are stronger titles. 

Matt Puddy is wondering what the new art on Ten Grand will look like. By the time you read this, he'll know.

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