I think they were trying too hard with Issue #1. It’s tough to both establish a universe and try to grab an audience. Something almost always gets lost along the way, and in the case of “Protectors, Inc.” that something was story structure. It was very difficult to try to get to know any of the characters, follow what they were doing, or figure out what the plot of this series was even going to be.
I was a little weary after the first issue of “Protectors, Inc." I’m on board now.
But luckily the second issue fixes all of that. We follow a single character nearly the whole time – Detective John Riley – as he goes about a typical morning in this world of rich super heroes, and it’s quite the thing. In a lot of ways, I think this would have worked better as an introductory issue. Riley is just “everyman” enough to be relatable, and there are so many subtle things that are just off about this version of Chicago that force you to really look at every panel and try to piece it together. I was having so much fun with the mystery that I tried to forget that I’d read the first issue entirely to see if I could really figure out what was going on. In the end, I was glad I’d read these two issues in order, but it just goes to show that storytelling works best when it’s not being shoved in your face. It was so much more immersive to be in the world rather than being told about it.
It’s not without its flaws though – however minor they may be. Firstly, in this universe, the Protectors thing has been going on for 40 or 50 years now, and apparently in that time nobody has stepped up as a super villain. That’s kind of hard to swallow. Not even some short failed attempt that acts as a deterrent for everyone else. It's just supposedly never happened before. It feels wrong, and it bugged me more than it should have. I can definitely see the threads of “the world’s first supervillian” forming in these pages, and the “heroes” themselves don’t exactly have the same moral compass as Superman, but I really feel like someone one in the last four or five decades would have used the powers for evil – especially considering it seems like the rich can just buy the powers outright.
The art, for the most part, is lovely. Really fits with the subject matter, but a few of the characters look shockingly similar. There’s a little too much of the stereotypical short, dark-haired, chiseled jaw, manly man thing going on. This series is setting itself up to break a lot of super hero tropes out there, and it feels like this is one that would have been easy enough to break. But again, minor gripe. On the whole, I’m really starting to enjoy my time with this series, and I’m looking forward to getting into the next issue when it comes out.
“Protector’s Inc.” Issue #2 was released on December 11th, and is available for $2.99 from Image Comics.