Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Global Guardians

Back in the Justice League, I mentioned the existence of a United Nations sponsored superhero team. Well, the Global Guardians are it. In the Drewniverse, they'll be taking the role of the old Justice League International - that dimness that lets the light of the Justice League glow brighter by comparison.

Created by the United Nations in response to the formation of the Justice League, the Guardians' first mission was to serve as a counter balance. Nations who did not have members in the League, or who were worried by who the League chose to include, needed some reassurance that they were not being left behind. The United Nations, worried that a perceived "superhero gap" could start an arms race, quickly stepped in to create the Guardians. While this has reassured many nations, the arms race is still occurring, covertly.

One of the reasons that various nations are attempting their own state-sponsored hero programs is that, well, the Guardians are sort of a joke. Beggars can't be choosers, but even someone trapped in a burning building imagines themselves being saved by Superman, not Doctor Mist or the Huntsman or whomever. Combine that with the "team creation by committee" aspect of the Guardians, and you have a team that is definitely not the best at what they do, even though they've been vetted by diplomats and PR flacks.

Unlike the Justice League, who choose their own members and actually pay attention to things like tactical considerations and personal interaction, membership in the Global Guardians is decided by committee and rotations, much like the UN Security Council. Like the UNSC, there are a set of 'permanent' heroes on the team and a set of 'rotating' members. The Permanent heroes roughly correspond to their Security Council counterparts (the glaring exception being the USA) and are on the team unless the UN votes them off (which would be pretty hard to do). They are:

  • Doctor Mist (USA) - The glaring exception and the leader of the team. We've seen the Doc before in the Immortals entry. An immortal wizard-king from Africa, Doctor Mist has stepped into the world of heroes, seemingly because the US thought it would be a great PR move to give "a first round draft pick to the developing nations that need it so much" (actually, they wouldn't want to waste one of their headliners on a UN joke). Most other heroes encountering Doctor Mist in this role think him befuddled at worst, slumming it at best. Of course, the Doc is playing a long game here. His secret plans for the team will help drive some of the action of the series. His powers are of the standard Wizarding Set - illusions, gem enchantment, alchemy, etc.
  • Crimson Fox (France) - A pair of super-speedsters teaming up to fill in the same role. The nature of Constance and Vivian's power is such that only one of the two can use it at a time, so they sort of trade off. How fast they can go is proportional to the distance between them, which makes teaming up together rather impractical. Their pheromone powers are sort of wasted when it comes to Vivian, who's gay, and Constance, who's married, so they tend to not publicize that they even have them, let alone use them. Being in the team is a huge strain on their family relationships given the distance they have to establish while "at work."
  • Saint Peter (Russia) - Just because he is called a saint does not mean Peter is one. It's just a name, of course, but a much better one than the one he used to have. A cybernetic supersoldier, Peter is the team's "heavy" and provided a level of brooding danger that the PR flacks say appeals to the youth of today. Not much is said about Peter's past as it is not very well known - he's undergone so many upgrades that anyone who actually knew this relic of Cold War menace wouldn't be able to identify him now.
  • Celestial Archer (China) - When her brother, the first Celestial Archer, died protecting the city of Harbin from the Immortal Demon of Winter, his powers passed down to his younger sister Chang'e. Fresh faced and naive, she takes her great power and responsibility very seriously. However, there is a package waiting for her, another gift from her brother sent after his death. In the package is a journal detailing not only the corruption of the Chinese Super Functionaries system, but a flaw in the Mandate of Heaven that grants the Archer her powers.
  • Jack O'Lantern (United Kingdom) - Born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Jack was picked by the UK as a way of reaching out to their Irish cousins - who, of course, were very quick to point out how orange a jack o"lantern is. Jack brings strength, agility, and Irish wit to the team. His lantern, a pumpkin mounted on a staff, when lit causes those cast in its light to tell the truth (it also dispels illusions, breaks codes, and translates texts) and can shoot fire out of its mouth. It sometimes talks to Jack, but only he can hear it.
The current rotating roster is based on the regional blocs of the rotating members of the Security Council at this time. So we have Fire (Latin America), Fortune (Eastern Europe, based on Gypsy), Sandstorm (Asia and Arab Group), Freedom Beast (Africa), and Amazing Man (Africa) all kicking around as of Issue #1 of Global Guardians (#42/52).

So what do the Global Guardians spend their time doing? Not guarding much of anything, that's for sure. Photo ops, acting as 'superhero ambassadors,' and relief work seems to be their main duty, a fact that frustrates most of the team. This frustration will eventually boil over during the first story arc (after a montage of heroes being stopped from actually helping anyone) as the team tries to slip its leash and actually act like heroes. To be a Global Guardian is to be fake at best, frustrated at worst.

Of course, as team members rotate out, Doctor Mist might have a few words with them about other... opportunities... that might be available for honest men and women who want to help change the world for the better. Several previous rotating members may have already taken the old man up on his offer, so at the end of the first arc when the current crop of rotating heroes depart, our focus will follow Fire as she shifts to a more covert team of global guardians tasked with guarding the planet against its biggest threat:


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