The First Knife of the Hudsoni can keep his men alive so long as he leads High Priestess Mari and the demon she calls Hesukristos to a temple in the ancient city of Sentta-Lu. The sacred weapon of the Hudsoni and the "NATO" relics in the temple could provide the metal-skinned protector with answers and provide the Yanqui tribe with some much-needed backup. The party sets out from Shikka-Go but is waylaid by a Devas on the first night. And the faith of the Hudsoni tribesmen is tested when their deity chooses Mari as its herald.
In the first two issues of Protector, writers Simon Roy and Daniel M. Bensen and artist Artyom Trakhanov throw readers into the proverbial deep end and challenge them to decipher the sophisticated interlacing of mythology, futurology, and post-apocalyptic science fiction. In the third issue, the story begins in earnest. Now that the main characters have been introduced, they confront each other for the first time and take up a quest together with the same goal, albeit at odds with one another.
Consequently, issue three gives us a better sense of the characters. We learn more about Mari and the unnamed demon from their interactions, and their relationship drives the narrative. The more they converse, the more it reveals about its functions and motivations, and the mystery of its origins deepen.
Protector is an exemplary and engaging exercise in science fiction world building. The story is set against an anthropologically unique backdrop of pre-mechanical/post-apocalyptic tribalism, competing religions, and warring alien technologies battling over planetary supremacy. The tension is heightened by Trakhanov's illustrations and bold line work, which is both writhing and rigid like intricate wrought iron. And the sanguine color scheme employed by artist Jason Wordie gives the comic a palpable intensity.
But, for me personally, #StoriesMatter because of the characters. And the most complex character in Protector is the war chief First Knife. For fellow fans of The Expanse, he reminds me of Belter bosmang Klaes Ashford (played by David Strathairn in the show). His schemes are fluid and opportunistic, but he's stalwart in defense of his fellow Hudsoni and ruthless in his implementation. For now, he is a prisoner, at the mercy of Mari and the Yanqui, but I don't think he'll stay that way forever.
Creative Team: Simon Roy and Daniel M. Bensen (writers), Artyom Trakhanov (artist), Jason Wordie (colors), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letters), Bertram & Sergey Nazarov (Cover)
Publisher: Image Comics
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