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I usually don't like post-apocalyptic stories. They are often brutal and depressing due to their cynical appraisal of humanity when civilization is taken away from us. That's why I enjoy stories like SM Stirling's Emberverse series, because no matter how bad things get, humanity can survive, overcome and prosper. And now I can add Protector to that category of end of the world fiction.
For those who don't know, Protector is a new Image comic series written by Daniel M. Bensen and Simon Roy; with art by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Artyom Trakhanov and Jason Wordie. Some of you may recognize Bensen from his 2016 Sidewise Award winning short story "Treasure Fleet". Full disclosure: Bensen was kind enough to provide me a copy of the debut issue of Protector so I could share my thoughts with all of you.
Anywho, Protector is set in the future after a climate disaster has made much of North America hot and unlivable. Civilization now exists in what was once Canada and the most powerful people of the Great Lakes region are the descendants of East Asian and Siberian climate refugees known as the Hudsoni. They worship the Devas, mysterious beings who levitate, possess people and are apparently responsible for great works of engineering like a canal that cuts through Ontario to connect the Hudson Bay with the Great Lakes.
Much of the story takes place in the Hudsoni occupied city of Shikka-Go (sound it out, you'll know where to put it on the map), once the cultural capital of the Yanqui. A slave girl by the name of Mari attempts to flee her captors, but stumbles upon what appears to be a robot which rises up and defends her. This causes the Devas to warn the Hudsoni that they will destroy Shikka-Go (along with all the Hudsoni in it) to kill the "demon", until their First Knife (war leader) convinces them to let the Hudsoni kill the demon, ending the first issue.
So a lot to unpack here, but I love the world Bensen and Roy have created. I have seen it described as Conan the Barbarian meets Mad Max, and yes that is an apt description, but it also reminds me a lot of the world Roland Deschain came from in The Dark Tower series. Both worlds are primitive compared to our own, but have evidence of a much more advance society (no spoilers, but the robot/demon has a certain recognizable acronym plastered on it) that was destroyed leaving only remnants to be prized...or feared.
There is definitely a mystery about how this future came to be and, while I suspect the Devas have something to do with it, that doesn't mean the journey to that answer won't be intriguing especially as Bensen and Roy flesh out their future North America. I should point out that the comic came with a map and profiles of the tribes of the Canadian shield that has tons of details that can be enjoyed by alternate historians.
Is there anything I didn't like about Protector? Well to be honest, I wasn't exactly a fan of the art style. I wouldn't say its necessarily bad, but for someone who is used to the more superheroy comic art style, the art work might look a little rough. That all said, take my opinions on art with a grain of salt. People have confused my lazy doodles with my actual handwriting!
In conclusion, if you like post-apocalyptic stories that don't skimp on the world building, then you will enjoy Protector. I certainly want to learn more about this future North America and the diverse peoples that inhabit it.