Comic book legend Stan Lee (no relation to the phonetically similar hockey trophy) has teamed up with the NHL to create a superhero mascot and accompanying short comic book (written by Chuck Dixon) for each of the 30 NHL teams. It’s called The Guardian Project, and the results are about as bizarre as you would expect. Seeing as 30 characters would make an unwieldy super group, let’s take a look at the six Canadian Guardians in order of least to most ridiculous.
6. The Flame
The Calgary Flame is a fairly straightforward hero with your basic fire shooting/manipulating powers. I really dig his costume, too. Black and red with yellow accents and flame decals on the gloves and boots. It says “I take my job seriously, but I like to get a bit wacky every once in a while.” His comic is pretty rad. He fights off a fleet of invading aliens that have “hijacked” the Calgary Tower. And the aliens are exclusively female. Hey, why not?
5. The Maple Leaf
Toronto’s Guardian is an anthropomorphic maple tree. He’s the biggest of the Guardians and has the power to make himself larger and shoot “sticky ‘sap’ bombs” at enemies to trap them. He can also regrow limbs and control other trees. Although not explicitly stated, I like to think that he’s an ent that wandered out of Middle Earth and made Toronto his adopted home because was a big fan of the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. In his comic he foils a gem heist and captures the multicoloured villain, Spectra.
4. The Canuck
“The Canuck is mostly human mixed with certain attributes of a Killer Whale.” Wow. Let’s hope that cannibalism isn’t in that mix. His bio lists his abilities as being able to swim very well, glide for a while, and climb trees. Uh, good for him? From his comic he appears to be sort of bullet proof and can shoot nets. And communicate with killer whales. I like the blue-on-black for his costume, but the fin is pretty doofy. In his comic he saves oil baron Sheik Hosni Ibn Mudullah from an evil mermaid named Velvet 9. Googling “velvet 9” reveals velvet9.com, a “sexy fantasies” dating site. There’s no way that’s a coincidence. Don’t these writers know that Google exists?
Hey, right now we’re 3 for 3 lady villains. That’s what happens when Canada is this late to the hockey cheerleader scene. All the super powered women with fine arts degrees who could have had legitimate entertainment careers turn to a life of crime instead.
3. The Canadien
Montreal’s Canadien has a neat design, and an interesting power set. He’s essentially Iron Man but with the added ability to assume the powers of other Guardians within a few miles of him. On a team book, that could be a pretty fun dynamic. His colour scheme lends him an unfortunate resemblance to Norman Osborne’s Iron Patriot suit. In his comic he stops a group of motorcycle riding bank robbers from ruining the Montreal Grand Prix, probably killing them in impact when they jump from a bridge onto a river that has been instantly frozen.
2. The Senator
Ottowa’s Senator is “half man, half God.” His twin blade, “the Gemini Gladius” looks nothing like an actual gladius, (or two gladiuses, for that matter) can shoot energy or something. He can also supernaturally motivate his allies and break the wills of “weaker minded foes,” and he likes to show off his rockin’ thighs in his gladiator skirt. He also has a pegasus named Artimus [sic]. I dig the cape and bracers, but I’m not a fan of his shoulder spikes. In his comic he fights Magnicore, a deranged inventor who is melting the ice at Ottowa’s Winterlude, ruining everybody’s fun. He demands that the members of the Canadian Energy Council approve his patents for renewable energy. This guy gets some great lines:
“For science!” Of course, the Senator beats him, and gets a great line of his own.
1. The Oiler
Of the Canadian Guardian concepts, the Edmonton Oiler is by far the most insane. His bio puts him at 7 feet tall and 500 pounds, and he carries a portable crude-oil refinery on his back. He can sense oil deposits underground and can tap them for energy. But he’s not all about the dirty oil dollars, his bio explicitly states that “the Oiler is the most environmentally conscious of the Guardians devoting all of his free time to cleaning up the world’s ecological disasters.” I reckon he gets on the rest of the Guardian’s cases about properly sorting recyclables. In his comic he fights a giant tar monster named “Bitumen,” and Edmonton appears to be somewhere on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. After seeing every other city get a (marginally) well depicted representation, that’s disappointing. And his costume is abysmal. They stuck a Judge Dredd helmet on a He-Man reject. At least he’s wearing CSA approved safety footwear.
“Oily Bird”? Oooooh. Too soon, Oiler. Way too soon
Apparently you can buy the collected tales of the Guardian Project at the website, along with some posters and other merch. To be 100% honest, I will buy a Calgary Flame poster on sight if they make one. I'd buy one for my dad, too.