Today Black Ship Books reviews Todd Black’s Guardians. I got the chance to read the first five issues of this series along with the prologue, and even though I usually try to stray away from superhero comics because they are so overdone, I actually enjoyed the books.
Guardians takes place in Delta City, a place of marvelous inventions and possibility and also a place of rampant crime. When the crime rate rises and the citizens who once attempted to ignore the evil finally pray for a solution for it, “the Maker” (aka God) sends forth the super-powered Guardians, Element and Chaos. Element has the power to create and manipulate fire, ice and lightning while his brother Chaos has the power to control the force of darkness.
Aside from their powers, the brothers also differ in their point of view of their purpose and place among mankind. While Element believes that he and his brother were sent by the Maker to be a part of humanity, embracing their ways in a sense while also being their saviors, Chaos believes they are meant to only protect and serve, and keep the people who are so unlike themselves at arm’s length. The brothers take residence in a lighthouse at the center of Delta City called the Perch and they do a great job of defending the city they have been charged with protecting without any real opposition, until a super powered man who can manipulate the wind and calls himself Tempest arrives to challenge them.
In their first encounter, Tempest seemingly kills Chaos and manages to beat and flee Element, baiting him into a rematch, which ends in the hero’s defeat once again. After Chaos manages to recover, Element reveals that he learned something from Tempest which could be a lead to a potential weakness of their new foe. After investigating a science research institute that is experimenting with weather control technology, Element and Chaos discover that the source of Tempest’s powers is drawn from a weather machine. While Element engages Tempest in battle once again, Chaos, who is still presumed dead by the villain, destroys the weather machine generators to negate his abilities. With the generators eliminated, Element gains the upper hand and takes the wind-manipulator underground to cut him off from the winds, and then promptly beats him, freezes him and turns him over to the authorities.
Following their victory over Tempest, the Guardians decide to use the lighthouse, which was once a beacon of hope for the city, to let the people know that they too will be new lights of hope for them. Eventually, the Guardians are presented with a new enemy in the form of a parkour expert and thrill-seeking junkie who comes to be known as “Phase” for his ability to make himself intangible. Phase presents the Guardians with various problems as his free running skills make him extremely evasive and his powers make him uncontainable, but his desire to find someone who can challenge him spurs him to find ways he can coax the Guardians into chasing him, such as robbing banks and endangering civilians. After a few failed attempts at capturing the new crook, Chaos develops an idea from watching a fish wriggle out of a fisherman’s net. In a final encounter with Phase, the Guardians successfully trap him in a fishing net charged with Chaos’ dark energy and Element’s electricity. Chaos reveals that he figured out that Phase’s powers were based on him knowing and adapting to an object in order to phase through it, however anything he can’t touch or become conditioned to, such as the shifting dark and electrical energies of the net, is able to restrain him. In issue five, the end of this arc, we see the local authorities have Phase trapped in a containment field that he is unable to touch, and Tempest is locked up in the same facility within an airtight room, still plotting to kill the Guardians.
I enjoyed Black’s narrative coupled with Alex Garcia’s art, and the pacing of the story is pretty good as well. I like the concept of the Guardians not simply being aliens or super-powered humans, but more like the creations of a divine force in answer to the prayers of people in distress, but Black does clarify that his heroes are not angels. The only things I can say I didn’t especially like were the clichéd dialogue of the villains and the limited explanation of how the two villains actually obtained their powers.
The story certainly does have potential, depending on the direction Black chooses to take with the development of the Guardians’ relationship to the people they serve and how they may be defined and perceived by mankind in their dealings with other villains like Tempest and Phase. There is plenty of room for that Man of Steel situation where the general public may be apprehensive about the presence of these superheroes that seem to mean well but could also be conquerors and may also impose their own brand of justice on criminals, which is what Tempest wanted in the first place. I think Guardians is worth a read for comic fans who want a fresh, new superhero story outside of the Big Two.
You can check out more of Guardians at its official website.