Overview

Northern Guard #2

Review

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Northern Guard #2

Credits

  • Words: Ty Templeton with Sam Agro
  • Art: David J. Cutler
  • Colors: K. T. Smith
  • Publisher: Moonstone Books
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Feb 18, 2011

Right around the time Kal-El crashed-landed in a Kansas cornfield and Bruce Wayne took up his crusade on crime, a small band of creators and publishers were quietly plugging away building their own unique brand of superhuman adventurers, north of the 49th Parallel. The books produced during this Golden Age of Canadian comics were dubbed the Canadian Whites, so called because of their full-color covers and black-and-white interiors.

Characters such as Johnny Canuck, Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Commander Steele, Mr. Monster, and Freelance protected the shores of Canada and traveled the globe battling evil Axis powers and supernatural threats. The Canadian Whites have since been praised by knowledgeable collectors around the world as some of the best comics produced during the Golden Age.

Sadly, Moonstone Books' re-imagining of the classic heroes and heroines of wartime Canada doesn't quite live up to the creative ingenuity and exuberance of the originals.

I had really high hopes for this book and even higher expectations of the creative force guiding Northern Guard, Ty Templeton. A bonafide Canuck, Templeton’s passion for his subject matter is obvious; his modern versions of characters Commander Steele and Dr. Destine are inventive and in the case of the seemingly ageless Freelance, genuinely intriguing. Templeton also provides the best reason for the existence of a team of Canadian superheroes I’ve come across to date. Set twenty years into the future, during the aftermath of a worldwide catastrophe that has plunged the world into literal darkness, Northern Guard protects the last refuge of humanity like a band of light wrapping around the northern hemisphere.

However, it’s not Templeton’s creativity I’m disappointed in but his sloppy script. Templeton fails to adequately introduce his ensemble cast in this second issue, as his heroes struggle to catch up to the refreshingly complex villain responsible for the Pulse, the Red Rogue. Some team members are never referred to by name, a shame for properties out of circulation for more than half a century. The only reason I know the faceless dude in the white suit is Dr. Destine is because I looked it up on Moonstone’s website.

The artwork by David J. Cutler, while serviceable, has a distinct animation flavor to it that feels ill-suited to the source material. His character designs are slick but his rendering a little lackluster, relying on the colorist to add shadow and three dimensions to the visuals.

All in all, Northern Guard isn’t a bad superhero book. It just isn’t great, which is what I expected from an all-Canadian creative team, as an inhabitant of the Great White North, myself. Although full of passion, Northern Guard lacks follow-through and, like the shootout did to overtime hockey, dilutes the overall impact for the fans.

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