The optimistic potential of a superhero passion project is a process of going through growing pains. Depending on how things turn out, the UK could have their own superhero niche.

GUARDIAN #1 – Tom Carter’s Superhero Sneak Preview

Guardian #1 is a superhero indie comic by UK filmmaker Tom Carter, available via Comixology. This passion project has been in the works since his college days.

Zack West, who just graduated returns home spending time with his family and girlfriend living his normal life ever day life until a mysterious alien symbiotic crash lands on earth; it fuses with Zack and together they become Guardian, the newest superhero and defender of earth.

Guardian #1 Introduction

Tom Carter’s Guardian #1 wastes no time introducing his title character… characters? The way Carter works with artist and letterer Jang Haryadi for introductions is pretty clever. Readers assume it’s the civilian identity of Zack West until later some context from the beginning reveal that it’s him and a symbiote. Think if Venom was more technological. What’s more, Zack is an everyman who surrounds himself with quirky yet down-to-earth characters like Guardian and his family. When you get down to everything, this is the ideal viewpoint of the reader to a new universe. Empathetic enough for a reader to latch onto, but not sympathetic enough to the point of pity. That’s certainly the way for Guardian who learns through Zack that there are already superheroes about.

Building Up Future Stories

With the universe building in the background, this generates interest for more content. However, the way Guardian #1 sets up future stories can be kind of lackluster. Their archenemy Mars The Destroyer and his presence combined with the disappearance of Zack’s family friend Sean Hunter advertises itself as a mystery. But to readers who pay attention, it’s actually pretty on the nose. Guardian’s conflict with the crime lord Maverick seems more interesting, especially with his skull-masked helper.

Guardian #1 Artwork

Meet Blue... uh.. Guardian. No not Blue Guardian just Guardian.
How popular is Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) in the UK?

Jang Haryadi does a very good job with how he handles penciling, inking, and lettering. The designs of his characters in Guardian #1 are diverse enough for readers to tell everyone apart. But it’s the designs of the heroes and villains that are the most praiseworthy. Guardian’s simple design not only makes it notable, but the trunks it features are a tribute to Silver Age superheroes. Villains like Mars, Maverick, and Skull all feature designs that fit their personalities. Mars is an over-the-top supervillain with a cape who ironically watches from the shadows, while Maverick is a large intimidating man in a suit. Skull’s mask with eyes that occasionally glow purple imply a mystical nature, all while dressing in a fedora and trench coat. This is a display of Maverick trying to cover all areas of superheroics including the more fantastical aspects that have yet to show up.

Lettering problem in Guardian #1
This looks better if you see the panels above this picture.

However, when it comes to Haryadi’s lettering, they range from being creative to chaotic. The captions, as mentioned earlier on Guardian’s introduction is some of the best in Guardian #1. Unfortunately, some of the word balloons and captions can be out of place. When Zack is speaking with his girlfriend Amy, her opening dialogue looks like it should be in one panel or happens too late. Otherwise, Zack’s apology looks awkward when reading from just the panel it takes place in.

Coloring by Papillon Studio seems to vary. They range from relatively simple like most of the series where Zack goes about the day to highly detailed where Guardian makes his debut. The background however doesn’t get much detail unless there are trees. Otherwise, the urban architecture looks kind of dull.

The First Step Of The Carterverse

Guardian #1 is far from perfect, but it has the potential to grow into something greater. You have characters who serve as the gateway into a bigger world of superheroes instead of being the first of an epic. Sure, Guardian’s building superhero career looks lackluster, but maybe Zack’s family can be a treat. Where else can you find superhero stories that can be fun and be a means of figuring out what to do with your life? Anybody trying to find their way can relate to that. Maybe you just need to wait and see where this all goes.

What do you all think? Is this series just another attempt at reinventing the superhero wheel? Or could something come out of this? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Jake Palermo
Jake Palermo
Greeting panel readers, My name is Jake but I never replace anyone or anything; I merely follow and fill in the gaps. I write stories and articles that help people piece together anything that helps them understand subjects like culture, the people who write their favorite stories, and how it affects other people.
The optimistic potential of a superhero passion project is a process of going through growing pains. Depending on how things turn out, the UK could have their own superhero niche.GUARDIAN #1 - Tom Carter's Superhero Sneak Preview