Protectors Issue #1 – September 1992 (Malibu Comics)

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TITLE: Malibu Comics Issue #1

YEAR: September 1992

COMPANY: Malibu Comics

Writer: R.A. Jones

Penciller: Thomas Derenick

Inker: Deodato

Colorist: Tom O’Connor

Letterer: Clem Robins

Cover Artist: Clarke Hawbaker

Cover Colorist: Paul Mounts

Art Assist: Chaz Truog

Before there was an Ultraverse, Malibu Comics released several series but one that would delve into the superhero realm with the series “Protectors”.

Written by R.A. Jones and featuring pencils by Thomas Derenick and inking by Deodato, “Protectors” was a series that would return back to that Golden Age feel.

In an interview featured in the first issue of “Protectors”, Jones said, “With the ‘Protectors’, I want to do a ’90s book but retain certain elements from the past that I think were good.  One of those elements is trying to keep the story down to a  human level, at least for now. Super hero comics have tended to become extremely large and cosmic in their scope.  The heroes don’t seem to be doing their job unless they’re fighting some menace that threatens to destroy the entire universe or something.  I would prefer to keep it scaled down to a more human level than that.  That’s one of the reasons I came up with the clause in their charter that doesn’t allow any of these heroes to kill.  With the trend towards grim and gritty that comics have now, we’ve lost a little bit of the nobility the heroes once had.  Again, I’m working for a blend there, I want it to be as realistic as anything involving people in silly costumes can be, but at the same time keep some of the old-fashioned things that got lost in the shuffle somewhere along the way”.

I have to admit that in 1992, I can see what point that R.A. Jones was making.  Reading the interview, I can see how he was inspired by the Centaur comic books (one of the earliest American comic book publishers that lasted from 1938-1942).

In fact, Malibu Comics revived several heroes that lapsed into public domain such as Airman, Amazing Man, the Arrow, the Clock, the Fantom of the Fair, Fantoman (renamed to “Gravestone”), the Ferret, the Masked Marvel (renamed to “Night Mask”), Mighty Man, Prince Zardi the Eternal Man and the Shark (renamed to “Thresher”), Blue Lady (renamed to “Midnight Blue”) and a few original characters that would make up the superhero group “Protectors”.

With the released of “Protectors”, Malibu Comics intended the series to last six issues but because response was positive, it lasted for 20-issues from 1992-1994, canceled as Malibu Comics decided refocus their attention towards their new Ultraverse line and due to Marvel Comics purchasing Malibu Comics.

The first issue kicks off with a police precinct in Washington D.C. being attacked by the Steel Army.  All police officers are killed except one, as the Steel Army’s leader Mister Monday gives the surviving officer a message that the murders of the policemen was a prelude and they won’t stop until Washington is in ruins.

Mister Monday is the first Supranormal sighting since July 4, 1986 when Supranormals clashed and since that disaster in the small Virginia town of Brinkston, no super-powered beings have been seen since.

The President of the United States arranges a meeting with Philip Reinhart, a man who was known as Night Mask long ago and is the last surviving member of the masked superhero group he belonged to.

When Philip meets with the President and Senator John Fraley (Chairman of the Domestic Affairs Committee), in order to protect humanity from the savagery of Mister Monday, a new superhero group known as the Protectors would be created.  And a few have been dispatched on their first mission.

The members include Man of War (Clay Carter), Air Man (Drake Stevens), Arc (Brandee Douglas) and the mysterious Grave Stone.

Being added to the group is the New Night Mask, who is revealed to be Philip Reinhart’s estranged son, Richard.

But will this new team be ready to take on evil?  And what other members will be considered for the Protectors?

Overall, I enjoyed the “Protectors” that I purchased every issue.  I enjoyed R.A. Jones message of the Golden Age and gave Malibu Comics the benefit of the doubt to keep me interested.

I felt the strongest aspect of the “Protectors” was R.A. Jones writing, the weakest point for issue #1 was the inconsistency of the artwork.  As you can see the image above, for the newscaster, her face structure and hair fluctuates.  This happens with a few characters as well but I figured that the ’90s were dominated with artists who can really pencil, but their stories weren’t that great.  This time around, we have a story-driven superhero comic series and I could see the potential of it.

Granted, I never knew about the Ultraverse going to be Malibu’s main focus but I have to admit, if it wasn’t for “Protectors”, “Ex-Mutants” and “Dinosaurs for Hire”, I wouldn’t have known about Ultraverse or Malibu Comics at all.

The revival of the Centaur Comics characters from Public Domain was also another reason for me to read this comic, as I was interested to seeing how these classic characters from the ’30s and ’40s would be introduced in 1992.

But for me “Protectors” was no doubt one of my favorite superhero comic book series from a company other than Marvel and DC.  And although 20-issues long, reading the series and the one-shots was well worth it!


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