Writers: Daniel Bensen and Simon Roy
Artist: Artyom Trakhanov
Publisher: Image Comics
WHAT IS IT?
An ambitious post-apocalyptic comic with a unique blend of sci-fi and folklore that takes to world-building the way Egypt took to pyramids.
Think Sera and the Royal Stars meets Coffin Bound.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In the year 3241, warring tribal societies hold sway around the great lakes region in North America. A Yanqui slave girl is running away from her Hudsoni masters and falls into deep cavern. There she finds a series of rusted NATO machines, one of which appears to be operational, and reacts with deadly force when her life is endangered.
Meanwhile, a spiritual leader of the Hudsoni receives a warning from his god: destroy the Yanqui girl's demon before the full moon, or the region will be purged. Now both sides are presented with a race: the Hudsoni to prevent the wrath of their god and slave girl to reclaim her safety and perhaps her people's homeland.
Bensen and Roy's dialogue convincingly and efficiently gives us useful information about the world without feeling forced or unnatural. After the first spoken exchange, we are already given hints about what happened to the world, the culture of the people in the region, and the power dynamics at play.
Trakhanov's art, while rough and imprecise, tells just as much of the story as any of the words. The environments are rich and detailed even in their muddy and abstract qualities.
The world- the team-building is incredibly interesting and unique. It makes the entire project worth following just to learn more about the world of the comic.
Wordie's use of plain color backgrounds emphasizes the emotion of each panel and help communicate the feelings and thoughts of the characters even when no dialogue is present.
Some of the naming conventions are really clever. The main setting, the city of Shikka-go, is both familiar and abstracted, which gives the setting a foreign feel while allowing astute readers to decode some of the places and history in the world.
There's an intriguing mix of religion and technology that invites speculation while maintaining a spectre of mystery over the nature of the world. Whether the Gods the Hudsoni worship are man-made, alien, or something else entirely is left tantalisingly unanswered.
The stakes exiting this first issue are really high and promise a gripping and involved story for the rest of the series to follow. There's a real sense of danger and immediacy that any first issue should try to capture in order to get the audience interested; if nothing else, Protector will have any reader interested in what happens next.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
It feels strangely unfocused. There's not a clear sense of who our protagonist is or why we should care about them. The slave girl appears to be the intended protagonist, but we spend very little time with her and know nothing about her before the plot races forward and leaves her in the dust.
While some of the naming convention works, the use of entirely foreign sounding locations and names can be confusing and hard to follow. This combined with my previous point make it hard to feel anchored and, to an extent, invested in the world of Protector.
While a messy and indistinct art style can certainly work (see Coffin Bound and Mountainhead), Protector sometimes takes it a bit far. Lines are sloppy, characters are easily confused, and it can be genuinely difficult to pin down where anything is relative to the space they're presenting.
EXTREMELY SUBJECTIVE: Earlier, I made a comparison to Coffin Bound and Sera and the Royal Stars, and while I love both of those properties, it feels like Protector is trying too hard to be both of them without offering enough of its own identity.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
While I have some mixed feelings on the property, Protector has enough original ideas to be worth your time. Its world is fascinating and its plot promises some intense moments and thrilling adventure. Personally, I hope to see the story become more focused in future issues; the story and characters are there, the reader just needs to spend a little more time with them.
If you like high-octane adventure, sci-fi/fantasy, or just interesting takes on world-building, Protector is worth a look. I think it could use a bit more of its own identity, but there are worse influences to have and I certainly can't claim that I was bored by it. It's a promising start to a series that knows how to effectively intrigue its audience, and there's not a lot more you can ask from a first issue.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Tiger Lung by Simon Roy & Jason Wordie
Sera and the Royal Stars by Jon Tsuei & Audrey Mok
Strayed by Carlos Giffoni & Juan Doe
If you like the art:
Undertow by Steve Orlando & Artyom Trakhanov
Coffin Bound by Dan Waters & Dani
Transmissions by Jed McPherson & Marco Perugini
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Daniel Bensen – Writer
New Face: Though not new to the world of writing, Protector is his first work in the comics industry
His debut novel, Junction features a similarly weird and unique world (though less post-apocalypse and more alien planet)
Award-Winner: His short story, "Treasure Fleet," won the Sideways Award which recognises the best alternate history stories and novels every year.
Simon Roy – Writer
Before starting on Prophet in 2012, Roy worked on 10 self-published webcomics in just 5 years.
Dream Team: Worked with artist and colorist Jason Wordie on Tiger Lung, an anthology published by Dark Horse.
Roy was born in 1988 and has been working professionally in comics since he was 24. Way to live the dream!
Artyom Trakhanov – Artist
Outlander: Artyom is a Russian comic artist currently residing in St. Petersburg.
Aside from working on several anthologies and Image comics, Artyom regularly takes commissions and posts them on social media.
His side project, Slavic Nihilism, tells you everything you need to know about his attitude toward life and artistic quirks.
Jason Wordie – Colorist
Prolific: Jason has over 100 credits as a colorist across publishers, genres, and styles. The man's a true professional.
Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou – Letterer
Multi-Talented: Also works as an editor for the Eisner award-winning journal PanelxPanel and operates a comic analysis YouTube channel called Strip Panel Naked.
Prolific: Like Jason Wordie, Otsmane-Elhaou works as a professional across publishers, genres, and styles.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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