NHL Guardian Project: What The Hell.

I've always been a comic book fan and a fan of superheroes in general for as long as I can remember.  I've also been a hockey fan ever since I went to my first Hershey Bears game when I was a kid.  So, when the NHL and Marvel announced that they were going to create a team of superheroes to represent each team in the NHL I was excited.  Sure the whole promotion felt like it was something geared more towards kids, but there was a lot of potential for fun.  All thirty teams have interesting team concepts, personalities, and histories from which the Guardian designers could draw their ideas.  The only limit was how much time the creative team(s) had to, or chose to, put into developing quality superheroes.  With today's announcement of The Flyer, fans have seen 20% of the Guardians.  The general responses that I've read have expressed confusion, bafflement, and derision, although there are, as always, those that have positive responses, but those people tend to be pleasers and can safely be ignored since that will please me and they are, again, pleasers.  Personally, I'm not a fan of the Guardian Project because the execution of the cross-promotion feels phoned in.

To date we've met the Penguin, the Hurricane, the King, The Blackhawk, The Sabre, and the Flyer.  I'm seeing a pattern.  So, every Guardian's name is just going to be the hockey team's name re-purposed for a superhero?  That's a huge time saver since there is no pesky research involved with developing a creative, descriptive name for each hero that pays tribute to team's history and personality.  So far we've gotten off fairly each with the names, but are we seriously going to have superheroes with names like:

  • The Blue
  • The Senator
  • The Maple Leaf
  • The Star
  • The Devil (really... think about it.  They are actually going to have a hero called The Devil)
  • The Capital
  • And it goes on and on
Granted some of the team names lend pretty well to superhero titles.  The Red Wing and The Thrasher immediately come to mind.  though I do admit it will be kind of odd to see the Thrasher and if he has anything in common with a Marvel property that I have a soft spot for, Night Thrasher (I admit I laughed when I remembered that Night Thrasher is black).  Many of the other names have also be identified with other well known fictional characters.  I don't know how comic intellectual property laws work, but I was surprised to see "The Penguin" announced and find it odd that we'll have "The Predator" revealed one of these days.  But enough name bashing, I've still got to insult the character concepts, appearances, and powers.

The Penguin

Several people have pointed out that the Penguin looks sort of like Cyclops.  Others have said that the description begins and ends with the visor and spandex.  To the left we see a picture of a past mainstream costume worn by Cyclops.  You add a bit of a wing motif and a cap and you've got the penguin staring back at you.  Granted the visor on the Penguin protect him from the glare of the powers that were appropriated to him from Cyclops's fellow mutant and X-Man, Iceman.

The Flyer

I'm doing the Flyer second because while his powers are a total mish-mash of superhero standards, his appearance immediately reminded me of another X-Man Archangel.  The greatest similarity seems to be between The Flyer and the Horseman of Death Archangel.  As we can see we've got baldness, a different color face than the rest of the body, detailing in the eyebrow area, and the giant wings used for flight.  The inside of the Flyer's wings appear to be metallic in someway, much like Archangels.  Before and after being Archangel, he was just Angel and his wings were feathers, just like the Flyer's outer wing area.  Also, if you haven't read the Flyer's official description: 
The Flyer is a patriotic American who bleeds red, white and blue (and orange and black of course) but isn't blind to the inequities of the system.
Its like someone stuck wings on the guy's head, told his buddy that it looked sort of like an albino Captain America, and everyone decided that was just awesome.

The Blackhawk: an amalgamation of Iron Man and any of Iron Man's armor clad foes, except he's got a plexiglass face plate. Sweet.

The King: You know, he's not half bad if he wasn't a tired and worn out concept.  I can't help but wonder if that's his hair coming out of the top, or if he was just jealous of the Hurricane's sweet hairdo

Speaking of the Hurricane

For those playing along at home we've got Whirlwind, Whiplash, and Eric Staal.

And then there was The Sabre.  I hate the Sabre.  Ok, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and hydroelectric power plats... we're doing ok so far, but wait the team name is the Sabres.  Quick, give him a sword so that he works thematically and all our problems are solved.  Can anyone actually prove that the sabre wasn't an afterthought?  I mean its not Rob Liefeld bad, but can anyone explain where the sword came from or why he would have one outside of the hockey connection?  I would also point out that the Sabre's powers are share a lot in common with Iceman.  If we can make it through another 24 Guardians without me referencing Iceman again, then I would declare the project not a complete disaster.

You're welcome to disagree all you want, but the effort that appears to have been put into the Guardian Project is laughable.  My one hope is that the team that worked on this didn't spend countless hours putting their hearts and souls into each of these creations.  Upsides, we're a fifth of the way through and Marvel thankfully didn't include secret identities for each of the Guardians.  I honestly don't know if I could think up 30 unique alliterative names, granted I'm sure we'd have a Guardian named Pete Packard.  I really wanted this joint venture between the NHL and Marvel to be something good.

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