If you’re not a hockey fan, you may not have heard of the NHL Guardian Project. And God bless you for your ignorance. The NHL Guardian Project is a totally insane attempt to create a superhero for every one of the NHL teams, and then write a comic about it. Why? Hell if I know. To create a mascot or something? Advertising to get young people to watch hockey? At least the NBA and the NFL were savvy enough to get rap stars to model team jerseys on rap videos. Team-based superheroes lacks a certain … coolness, despite all the uninformed media pundits who tell you that “Superheroes are cool now!”
Maybe so, but not these heroes. Honestly, if the NHL had run a contest to create a superhero for each franchise, you’d discover that ten year olds would’ve come up with more creative superheroes than any of the NHL Guardians.
Anyway, to make matters more insane, the whole project was helmed by Stan Lee. Sure, he’s a legend, and he’s responsible for creating some of the most iconic superheroes in history. But that was in 1960. Lately, Stan The Man has been the guy who has lent his name to Ravage 2099, Stripperella, the Who Wants To Be a Superhero? reality show, a bunch of terrible motion comics from POW!, and newspaper Spider-Man. So it should be no surprise why most of these guardians look like already well-established superheroes.
Naturally, as a Red Wings fan, I was curious to check out what they did to wreck the reputation of my beloved team. And, just to bulk up this review, I decided to check out what was done with the rest of the Original Six (which includes Toronto, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Montreal). Because the only thing better than harassing rival fans over the superiority of your team is lording it over the rest of the League that their team is not as old as yours.
Shown: Top row - Red Wing, Bruin, Canadien; Bottom row - Blackhawk, Ranger, Maple Leaf. Not shown: a sense of shame.
So we have:
- Red Wing – clearly an Autobot. Not to be confused with the other Red Wing.
- Bruin – a giant anthropomorphic bear. Unique, I guess, unless you’re counting Ursa Major of the Winter Guard.
- Canadien – I know you’re tempted to say “Iron Man,” but to me he looks more like Malibu’s Iron Man clone, Prototype.
- Blackhawk – A color-swapped Master Chief. Well, at least Stan’s current on his pop culture references.
- Ranger – The Manhattan Guardian. Which… is actually a pretty obscure source. And a little clever, too. OK, Stan… you win this round.
- Maple Leaf – a tree. And I’m assuming a lowly maple tree, not an oak, which is the first tree you think of when paired with the word “mighty.” Seriously, Toronto fans, a friggin’ tree. You guys got jobbed. He’s probably based on The Thing, but at least The Thing didn’t shoot… ah, I’ll talk about it later.
These comics were written by Chuck Dixon. You may remember from such illustrious titles like Punisher War Journal, Detective Comics, and Birds of Prey. And now he can add the NHL Guardians to his resume. Hey, it’s a living, right? Interestingly, there are separate “Written by” and “Story by” credits. I think that means that Chuck was responsible for the dialogue while another guy was responsible for the plot. The “Story By” guy, then must be taking home the easiest cash in the world, since every story is basically “Guardian meets a villain/Guardian fights villian/Guardian wins, perhaps tossing off a ‘snappy’ one-liner.” This is your NHL Season Ticket money at work, people!
The comics are presented in the sense-shatterin’, mind-blowin’ pdf format. Laugh all you want, but somehow the Guardians folks were savvy enough not to publish the comics in Flash. Not that these comics have any risk of anyone ever pirating them.
Or reading them.
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