Special weeks I highlight the ultimate Comfort Food Comic release. This is the comic that gets me the most hyped. The comic I’ll remember and revisit the most. The one that gave me that special feeling above all the other releases that new comic book day.
The Dish Of The Week for 8/5/20 is Protector #5 by Simon Roy, Daniel Bensen, Artyom Trakhanov, Jason Wordie & Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
Hey everybody, let’s talk Protector as a whole for a bit. Throughout 2020, this has been one of my favorite comics. I’m always on the lookout for a new comic that will literally change my life and my preconceptions of what a comic can be. Protector is one of those rare comics. This book has been peak sci-fi and I was so happy to see the final issue really stuck the landing.
The main reason I think Protector is such a revelatory series is that you can clearly see and feel the footprint of each respective creator making their best work with no one to hold them back. This is an all star starting lineup. A Dream Team.
Let’s start with Simon Roy. Roy has such brilliant and creative knack for world building and character development in his own singularly unique crazy way. I have read so many indie comics and I roll my eyes at their universe development and how often it fails. It’s HARD! But,with Roy, every book he has done, even if I wasnt feeling it at first, I become so invested in. When you read a comic Roy writes or draws, you feel a certain realistic grunge to the world that I don’t think any other creator has mastered this well. You’re instantly transported to that world. You live there. You feel it. You get the rules of this world. That’s such a rare skill in comic creators. This page really shows what I’m talking about
Next, co writer Daniel Bensen. I didn’t know Bensen before this but once I became hooked into this series I delved deep into his website and works. Bensen is an extremely charming writer with a great handle on what makes great sci-fi. He’s also smart, like make you feel dumb smart. Pairing him with Roy is like injecting peak Arnold Schwarzenegger with super steroids. This is a creative duo on par with Shaq and Kobe, just dominating their genre and industry. I hope to God this team makes more work together in the future. His smart mind shows through on every page, making high concepts like this work.
Let’s move on to artist Artyom Trakhanov. Every so often artists come along that have such a unique style that it hits the industry like a runaway comet. Artists who when you see their work, youre in awe and can instantly recognize the artists. Creators like Moebius, Akira Toriyama, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Art Adams, Walt Simonson, Joe Madureira, Eiichiro Oda, James Stokoe, Katsuhiro Otomo. The best of the best. It’s time to induct Artyom into this club. This is far from his first amazing comic but this is definitely his coming out party. NO ONE in comics has a style like this. My brain isnt smart enough to give it justice. The blend of deep dark shadows and lines in an ever rotating perspective just dazzles the eyes. That he can nail down such an abstract style but also make it so easy to read with fluid, kinetic motion and push the momentum of the story forward all at the same time is breathtaking. And he is so good at expressions. Plenty of artists can draw an amazing pin-up, but the real masters are the ones that can do unparalleled sequential storytelling with their distinctive style. Artyom does this spectacularly. Try not to be blown away by pages like this.
We have to talk about colorist Jason Wordie. Let’s say Trakhanov’s art is already at the GOAT level of Michael Jordan. Applying Wordie’s colors to it is like giving MJ the powers of Superman. It’s overkill! It’s unfair to everyone else in the industry!!! Wordie is absolutely one of the most talented colorists in the industry right now and his bold palette use is ESSENTIAL to the special sauce of this book. But he’s not just prettying up some pencils and inks. He knows exactly what shade fits the emotional moment. He’s telling a story with his colors!! That’s what every colorist should be doing and why this book is so unique. That even the colorist gets to roll up his sleeves and greatly contribute to the storytelling is just so refreshing to see and should be happening on every comic. Just look at all these color choices.
And lastly we have letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou who is consistently in the conversation for greatest letterer in all of comics. This guy just understands everything that makes comics great. He is a master of his craft that really shows how integral lettering is to a comic. IT is the thing that makes or breaks a good comic. You don’t get anywhere without your words having a fantastic visual design. Much like Wordie, Hassan actively makes this book better and partakes in the storytelling with his lettering. The nuance of emotions, action and drama are all filtered through his unique choices. You feel the quiet pauses of conversation. You feel the anger and rage of when someone shouts. You feel terror, power, regret, sadness, bitterness ALL IN THE LETTERING!! It’s mind blowing. Look at the variety of lettering on one page alone.
The Dream Team really sealed the deal for me in Issue #5. We’ve been following our characters the former slave turned High Priestess, Mari; the resurrected NATO cyborg Hesukristos, and slaver and war chief First Knife as their world is turned upside down and their beliefs are shaken and upended throughout this series. Mari put her faith in Hesukristos and First Knife is a leader of the Hudsoni who put all their faith and belief in the mysterious star spanning creatures known as the Devas.
I am so glad this book came out during the global pandemic we are all currently suffering through. Seeing both Mari and First Knife in this issue have to fight against those in power and buck their beliefs and fight for their world and it’s future really touched me. I live in the U.S. and if one thing has become clear, it’s that an awful lot of Americans are fine with mass amounts of other people dying if it means they are to be slightly inconvenienced in even the smallest way. Also our elected officials, in direct contrast to the rest of the world, have done nothing but serve their own selfish needs rather than help the people. It’s heartbreaking. In this issue Hesukristos gets to his old barracks of the past world and when he sees everything is gone or dead he immediately turns on those that placed their lives and faith in him and rips them apart for their blood. Mari, painfully, knows she must turn on this one she helped put in power and kill him if she and the rest of Earth is to survive. Seeing this was extremely cathartic for the time were all living in right now.
Another thing that really worked for me in this issue is seeing Mari and First Knife turn and challenge their religious beliefs. I have never bought into religion. My thoughts on it have always been that it is a useful thing if you let it work for and support you, NOT the other way around. You shouldnt be beholden to religion or let it run your life. It should be an active ally in your own journey, always a force for betterment. In this issue Mari and First Knife mind meld with the Devas, supposed “Gods” of this age and actively fight back against the way things are and force them into a treaty, an agreement that will benefit humans and their lives. It even goes so far as to have First Knife transcend his mortal form and become one, a very literal demonstration of making religion work for the people instead of them being subservient to it. Again, this was extremely cathartic to me and my beliefs.
This book is a masterpiece. I will hold this one in my brain forever. It now stands as a benchmark of what comics can and SHOULD be. I don’t like to give things perfect scores but this is one of those comics that gets a 10/10. I urge each and every one of you to read this dazzling, brilliant series. And if the creators are reading this, please give us more!! I usually appreciate a self contained story, but I don’t want the book on this world to close!
Another reason you should read Protector is because my eyeless adorable wonderdog, D.D. recommends it. If she’s reading it with no eyes, what’s your excuse? You wouldnt want to make D.D. sad would you?