Protectors Inc. is the third release of the relaunch of Joe’s Comics, published through Image. The previous two releases were for Ten Grand and Sidekick (Please feel free to check both reviews here at Comic Bastards). Protector’s Inc. is the brainchild of writer J. Michael Straczynski and the line art is created by Gordon Purcell. There are superheroes in the world, and nearly all of them are wealthy power people who fall under the corporate umbrella of Protectors, Inc. They provide Justice(?) sometimes. But mostly, they provide PR and entertainment to the people as the real world churns forward. Now however, something is different as some disappearances/murders have occurred and they include one of Protectors Inc.'s own, The Huntsman. It is now up to hard-boiled Detective John Riley to investigate and put all the pieces together. Issue #4 continues that process as Riley interviews The Angel, the female of the bunch. And, we get to see more shenanigans from other Protectors as we get a small back story from each.
Superhero Noir is the term that I am using to describe this whole series. It is classic noir storytelling with a superhero edge all from the mind and thoughts of one Detective Riley. You could almost put some soft jazz music in the background when you read this and it would fit. These issues have all been smooth and pleasing to the reader as we flow with Riley during his investigation. Of course, we get to see some other things that Riley doesn't get to see, which makes the story even better. Issue #4 adds to that smoothness as this story is becoming an interesting case study in true crime vs. superhero entertainment style crime fighting. I'm loving it.
Outside of maybe Charles Soule, J. Michael Straczynski is the hardest working writer in comics. He is all over the place, and for good reason. When you read his stories, you see a richness and development that digs deeply into a person's psyche rather than just the sugar-coated exterior being displayed. Straczynski bares one's soul, which makes him a perfect fit for a story of lovable and popular superheroes with deadly crime floating underneath. You just know that as you continue to read this tale, that fluffy layer upon layer will be peeled back to reveal a dark reality. The writing continues to tease that outcome with superb artistry by Gordon Purcell on line art and Micheal Atiyeh on coloring that excellently paces the darkness. The art is succeeding greatly in capturing the "Superhero Noir" look.
If you are not following Protectors Inc. You really need to be. It is good old-fashioned entertainment dressed up for a modern world with an A+ writing team. It is well worth the look.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Artist: Gordon Purcell Publisher: Image/Joe’s Comics Price $2.99 Release Date: 2/19/14