I would describe Protectors Inc. as Superhero Noir. On its surface, it's a hard boiled old school detective story following investigator John Riley's search for a murderer. The murderer just happens to have killed one of the select few "Supers" that were believed to be invincible and beyond the realm of such things. But with the incredible beating to death of a super called "The Huntsman", that belief has been proven incorrect. There has also been two seemingly unrelated events that may or may not have some relevance to the case. We will just have to see. Like any good detective story, writer J. Micheal Straczynski has paced Protectors Inc. from Riley's point of view with only minor glimpses from the outside that fuel the reader's speculation and keep the pages turning month after month. It has been spot on to date, making this a real fun read and adding to my admiration of Straczynski as a writer.
Issue #6 picks right up on #5's ending where a major discovery has been made. Unfortunately, those who know have been eliminated. And by eliminated, I mean dead. Lucky for the reader and Detective Riley, we were not made privy to that breakthrough. We are driving the city, trying to make things out, being followed (maybe), and discovering some hard truths about the case. But despite the obstacles, there's an Angel that may be watching over Riley and helping...Or hurting the case. We just aren't sure at this point.
Straczynski's mixture of John Riley's inner thoughts combined with his one on one interactions work perfectly in making this such a good story. We really are seeing everything through Riley's eyes and thoughts and they are thoughts of distrust and cynicism. But like a good detective, those thoughts are displayed on the outside as well which allows us to know that Detective Riley is the real deal. He will not be impressed by anyone. And he says as such during an interaction with the Angel. The dude is all tough guy 100%.
Still even as a tough guy, Riley does have his moments of weakness and Gordon Purcell's art nails that aspect perfectly. There is a scene where Riley is discussing the case with his chief and he is told some shattering news. Purcell puts that shatter in the frame's corner allowing us to see the detective's tough guy hardness beginning to crumble a little. Likewise during his encounter with The Angel, we see see some fear in his eyes. This shows that even though our guy is tough, that he is not invincible. These aspects add to the edge and help turn this little murder mystery into an intricate and elaborate tale of morality and mortality. It is well done.
If you are looking for a change of pace from the primary hero fare and want something a little different, yet with some elements that you like, then Protectors Inc. Is right up your alley. If you don't like superhero stories and prefer more hard hitting drama, then Protectors Inc. also meets that need Finally, if you just want a good and entertaining story with superb writing and art, we'll Protectors Inc meets that too. It's a comic that will not disappoint in any areas.
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Artist: Gordon Purcell Publisher: Image/Joe’s Comics Price $2.99 Release Date: 4/23/14