In his second issues of Protectors Inc., writer J. Michael Straczynski continues his recent habit of eviscerating the super-hero form. Lately, Straczynski seems much more intrigued by the foibles and follies of the powered set than he does with their usefulness to society.
As with the first installment, the primary point of view is provided by series protagonist Detective John Riley. Unlike that first issue, Straczynski spends far less time devoted to the history of the universe, having already established that with an exposition-heavy initial outing. Instead, he dives more into the problems created by a world filled with super-humans who are possessed of a distinct lack of moral fiber. The Huntsman in particular is written as especially narcissistic, using phrases such as “he chose to summon the hunt” when describing the baddie he’s just pummeled (causing a generous amount of collateral damage in the process), none of which escapes Riley’s notice.
The issue shines in the banter between police officers. This is unsurprising, as so far Straczynski seems intent on devoting Protectors Inc. to the mundane population living in a super-powered world. Here, even the most unlikable character among the normal human population, Detective Tomas, is still far more charming and inviting than any of the so-called super-heroes who make up Protectors Incorporated.
This book feels much more police procedural than super-hero title, and it will be interesting to see what happens as the powered characters begin to take a more active role in the series, rather than being relegated to fodder for Riley’s disdain. Overall, Straczynski seems determined to become his generation’s Alan Moore, deconstructing the idea of super-heroes and what their presence means to civilized society. Let us only hope that he fails to follow Moore’s eventual path, becoming completely disenchanted with the super-hero form, because he is often at his best when showing us what heroes can accomplish and inspire when they step outside of themselves and give back to the world which they supposedly serve.
Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He also hosts the weekly Infinite Crossover podcast in cooperation with Fanboys Inc. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-life Smallville. Opinons expressed in this piece reflect only the opinion of the writer and not of any employer. contact: firstname.lastname@example.org