The Guardian Line

Genesis 5

(This review was written in August 2007. Please note Steve MacDonald’s qualifications in this review. Urban Ministries, Inc has since announced that they are revamping the entire Guardian Line.)

The Guardian Line (2006-2007). Urban Ministries, Inc, [ Individual series; Code; Genesis 5; Joe & Max; Seekers- each series has four issues], 32 pp., $2.99

Individually these comics are varied.—Code is a stand alone hero like Batman, Genesis 5 has more of a New Mutants feel to it, and the other two feature younger kids thrust into larger worlds— and all are gear to an inner city audience. The ethnic makeup of the individuals more closely resembles what you’d find in a typical inner city. Thus giving a truer cultural feel than most mainstream attempts. While none of the individuals are traditional costumed superheroes (indeed, many off the primary characters are simply human, and some are teens and late pre-teens!). Some have powers derived from ‘high powers’ with at least six angelic beings among their ranks. The art in each title is well done, and very consistent throughout each issue. However, the characters, although they seem fully realized, feel as if they have been fed to the creative teams instead of flowing from them.

In Genesis 5, the story is confusing… the main character is apparently a non-Christian, but he is given the care of five teenage angels (who appear naked, in issue one anyway, with carefully placed wings making for ridiculously posed panels. I showed the panels to my wife and she immediately pointed out that they were indeed naked)- not much else is given for reference. Then the human character enrolls them in school. It just seems very silly, and nothing you’d expect after you’d reading about angelic visitations in the Bible. They each seem to have a superpower (air, water, cold, telekinesis, a sword…stuff like that), but first issue has a gruesome scene with a message literally burned into a corpse. The second has the younger main character lying to his Mom at the beginning of the issue. Lots of little faux pas makes it not very good…characters names and powers are not made clear, their actual purpose is unknown, he angels fill up on junk food and TV, a typo by the artist shows poor editorial control. This isn’t one that I’ll be showing my kids any time soon or encouraging others to buy.

Code (I’ve only seen issue #2) features a characer actually taking the Lord’s name in vain, irreverent references to God by main characters, sloppy writing andd editing, along with a faulty concept of hell- as if people (or a whole city) can be forced into it. All this gives Christians and non-Christians alike wrong information about spiritual things. This is one of the worst plotted and written comics I’ve read, and coming from an industry pro like Mike Baron (from his website: Nominated for best writer in the Kirby, Harvey and Eisner awards, and has won two Eisners for his work on Nexus) I was extremely surprised. Code isn’t listed among Mike’s works on his site, so I might be off on that one.

Joe & Max features another angel, this one a bodyguard/friend for the main character. The angel can only speak in scripture, so some of his lines are horribly out of context, and seem to strip the actual scripture of the massive spiritual weight that they should carry. A nice concept (the Guardian Angel) fused with a ridiculous concept (why would an angel be forced to speak in scripture?) makes it hard to get into. Similarly, the Seekers features younger characters, but this time they have the ability to travel through time. The first issue is all set-up, and it’s the only one I’ve seen so far, so I can’t comment too much on that one.

I’m going to have to advise readers to stay away from this comic line. I’d like to have a hard interview with the creator/writers and get some tough questions answered. But until then, these comics are just too flawed spiritually to recommend to non-Christians (no real gospel message), too convoluted to recommend to Christians (focusing on fantasy spiritual warfare and not on true spiritual things) and poorly written and plotted, for the most part (blasphemy in Code, scripture quoted out of context in Joe & Max in either laughable or cringe-worthy ways, and implied nudity in Genesis 5–are naked angels the best visual subject matter for comics ostensibly geared toward adolescent males?), to recommend to people who just want a good read. I had high hopes for this line, but its too problematic for me to share with anyone else.

Review by Steve MacDonald

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