First seen in the pages of The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman‘s superhero book Invincible, the Guardians of the Globe are getting their own ongoing series with Guarding the Globe, starring the creative team of writer Phil Hester and artist Todd Nauck and a cast of more than a dozen heroes.
A story in Image Comics’ Free Comic Book Day special issue, which you can find in comic shops May 5, acts as a “trailer” for the new series, and it also acts as a “tidy little bridge” from the 2010 Guarding the Globe miniseries, according to Nauck.
Kirkman and Benito Cereno penned that adventure, which featured the villainous Set and his minions schooling the Guardians and laying waste to Paris. Hester says the heroes who lived through that return in the new series, which picks up the pieces from the epic battle.
The new Invincible, formerly known as Bulletproof and now standing in for the original Invincible, will be a part of the team. The invulnerable Brit, who Hester says is probably his favorite Kirkman character ever, is going to get plenty of panel time, too, as will female boxer Knockout, super-strong Monster Girl and Chinese gunslinger Best Tiger.
Nauck’s favorites include Yeti, “an abominable snowman that is technically more of an early teen in his people’s years,” and the French bulldog powerhouse Le Brusier who “loves the limelight,” the artist says.
The Guardians had started out as similar archetypes to DC Comics’ Justice League of America, but has gone far beyond that now, Hester says. Guarding the Globe will show that being a superhero can be a workaday existence, and will showcase lesser-seen characters.
Nauck finds that they can stand squarely on their own against any other superteam. “We don’t really have any strictly archetypal Superman or Wonder Woman type. I also feel that these characters are unique in their visuals.”
Hester finds the characters in Guarding have a similar freshness to Invincible. “There’s a slight sense of familiarity, at least enough to get you to the table, but also a sense of the new and unexpected that keep you coming back for more. It’s a great chance to both pay homage to superheroes and upend them a bit in way that isn’t cynical, but humanizing.”
There are so many characters, though, Hester quips that he wakes up at night with a start when he realizes he has left heroes out due to the sheer volume of the thing. But while things happening in Kirkman’s Invincible book may affect his, you don’t have to have be a devotee of the “Kirkmanverse” or be immersed in Guardians lore to enjoy it.
“Part of the challenge for me as a writer is to make the book accessible without slowing the story,” Hester explains. “That said, I don’t buy the idea that continuity scares readers away. I know when I was a kid, X-Men, The Legion of Super-Heroes, Fantastic Four and The Avengers were continuity labyrinths, but I didn’t care because the stories were good. Hell, the confusion was almost an added enticement.
“I wanted to be in on all the secrets. I wanted to get that inside information that was doled out each issue. It was interactive. That’s the key: make a good comic book and people will jump aboard the moving train and put the pieces together as we roll.”
Although he was a fan of sprawling team books as a youngster, Hester never thought he’d get a chance to tackle a proper superpowered group, other than a brief run on Gen 13.
It was a no-brainer when Kirkman approached him about jump-starting the Guardians, and Hester wants to follow his lead from Invincible to design a book that’s fast-paced but also has some emotional heft.
Nauck appreciates that the series will offer bad-guy problems and more real-world issues, too. “These heroes look to help communities worldwide and in people’s personal lives in times of trouble or disaster. I think that is a consistent aspect that sets this book apart from other comic series.”
The artist is no stranger to superheroes: Nauck is a veteran of DC Comics’ Young Justice, and also illustrated Spider-Man stories and issues full of other characters for Marvel Comics. Yet he, too, jumped at the chance to work with Kirkman and his Image imprint, Skybound.
“This superhero universe is filled with super-powered action, adventure and life drama really hitting a global scale,” Nauck says. “It’s a great roller-coaster ride and what I read comics for.”