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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Guardians, published by Marvel Comics, 32 pages, cover price $2.99

Vince Armstrong has a problem. He's currently visiting a psychiatrist on a regular basis to iron out some memories from his childhood. Memories that everyone tells him aren't true. Memories which threaten to destroy relationships and ruin his life. The problem is, some of the people who tell him these things never happened were there when they happened! What's a young man to do?

The premise is that of a five-issue miniseries from Marvel Comics entitled Guardians. A little over a year old, it took me months to chase down every issue; happily, many shops still have it on the shelf at cover price. For a company known for churning out super hero material by the truckload, (not that there's anything wrong with that) Guardians is a well written, wonderfully drawn breath of fresh air with nary a super dude in sight.

Writer Marc Sumerak crafts a tale that does what the most well-written
stories in any genre do; make it easy for readers to sympathize with the main character. Vince is easy to relate to because the reader knows he's telling the truth about his extraterrestrial encounter, but even those who experienced it
refuse to acknowledge said truth, or have even been convinced that it never happened. Who WOULDN'T want to see poor Vince vindicated? Kudos to Sumerak for satisfying characterization in the midst of a simple, yet engrossing plot.

Artist Casey Jones (assisted in stellar form by colorist David Self) gives us wonderfully emotional depictions of characters who revel in their childhood adventures, and young adults who seek desperately to relegate those adventures to the category of childish make-believe. He also draws very cool aliens!

Guardians is recommended for those who enjoy science fiction, or just a well-told story that tugs at the ol' heart strings. Find it at your local comics shop, and at online retailers or auctions. To locate the comics shop nearest you, call 1-888-comicbook.

Review by Mark Allen