If you think the NHL Guardian Project is lame like our Shaun Kreider does, be sure to check out the Flyers' superhero he created back in October: the Broad Street Bully.
The NHL Guardian Project is a great idea on paper. Regardless of your thoughts on it's gimmicky nature, if you like superheroes and you like hockey, it's a pretty awesome thing to combine the two -- or at least it should be, especially if it truly was 14 years in the making, as first reported.
In that amount of time you'd think that any team of designers and writers could do enough research on each NHL franchise to create for them a superhero that is worthy of defending their respective city and having their teams crest emblazed across its chest.
With the release of six of the 30 "guardians," it's apparent that the team responsible for these super-zeroes did not do their homework.
I was fine holding my tongue as one after another, lame, thoughtless designs and bios were released. However, after the release of the The Flyer as the NHL's sixth guardian, I could no longer hold my tongue with regards to the horrendous crimes perpetrated against both hockey and superheroes.
Prepare as I unleash hell after the jump.
First off, let's discuss the design of The Flyer. It's interesting; I'll give them that. He is a man-bird that wears goggles, has wings and what appear to be razor sharp talons at the end of his fingers. Now all of that, in and of itself doesn't sound too horrible.
An odd choice for a team that has never totally embraced the winged aspect of their logo? Sure. Horrible? Not quite. Not yet, anyway.
I find it hard to believe that any one, superhero or no, that has wings, would chose to put two of them on their scull, protruding from the centers of their eyebrows, but maybe that's just me. The wings, while admittedly almost badass, have some sort of weird solar paneling on the inside of them? Are we to believe that The Flyer must recharge his wings and isn't powerful enough to move them himself? That seems rather weak. I hope this is not the case.
Now, as with everything in life, looks aren't everything and they're often deceiving. I mean Roman Chechmanek looked like a creeper who would eventually let down his team and the whole organization but....oh wait, bad example.
Anyway, for each guardian released, the NHL supplied a short two-paragraph biography to go along with him. What follows is The Flyer's bio in its entirety.
The Flyer is a patriotic American who bleeds red, white and blue (and orange and black of course) but isn't blind to the inequities of the system. He lives to be a leader and loves being the driving force behind making the world a better place. Of course, like his fellow Philadelphians, he has the propensity to let his intensity get the better of him.
As one of the many "Birds" within the NHL Guardian world, the Flyer has the obvious ability of flight. His unique addition to the Guardian "Air Force" is his gift of sight. He can pinpoint objects from 30 thousand feet and is able to see through obstacles making him slightly more valuable in certain situations. He has a titanium eagle that he keeps as a pet and he can see whatever the eagle sees. The Flyer possesses the ability of suggestion meaning he can read an opponent's mind and make them do things against their will. He is the only true telekinetic Guardian, able to move with great force any object he sets his mind to.
Let's break this down. Patriotic? I'm assuming that this is because of the history defeat of the Russians in 1976, 35 years ago. Ok, so there's some history in there, albeit, it's still a stretch. A leader? Sure, as one of the original 12 teams in the league and a fairly consistent playoff presence, this works for me.
"Of course, like his fellow Philadelphians, he has the propensity to let his intensity get the better of him."
Even in a league-wide PR stunt, the Flyer(s) cannot escape the reputation of being a hothead and a zealot. I'm ok with this. It makes sense, we all know it to be true and it shows a cursory knowledge of the team and the city. That's where the thoughtfulness stops for awhile.
Apparently The Flyer is a bird. Again, I'm not seeing this in the team. There are wings in the logo but to me, it's always been more metaphorical than literal.
Getting past this, it goes on to describe the Flyer as a sniper. This shows no thought or familiarity with the team itself. In comic book terms, the Flyer should be a tank, a bruiser -- the ground force infantry man that powers and bashes his way through the enemy lines.
Titanium eagle!? What the what?! I don't understand that at all.
Finally, we come to the telekinesis. I'm actually going to defend this to an extent. Besides the fact that it gives him too many powers and doesn't fit at all with the rest of his description or feel, this speaks to the will of the Flyer(s) and the city of Philadelphia. Mentally tough and unrelenting, it makes sense that whatever the Flyer puts his mind to he can move with his mind. Honestly, it's the only power (other than flight of any kind, preferably not with solar powered wings) that he needed.
In all, the design team didn't seem to be too familiar with the Flyers or their style of play. Many of the choices made don't make sense for any superhero, let alone one based on the orange and the black.
Who knows, maybe I'm just too close to this one to see the good. Maybe I can't objectively look at the whole project by just picking apart my favorite team's superhero. Fair enough. Let's take a look at the rest of them.
The first guardian to see the light of day was "The Penguin." I'll give you 30 guesses to figure out which team he represents. Now I wasn't expecting brilliant names for these superheroes based on obscure references to things in the teams' pasts but maybe something that requires more than .08 seconds of thought would be a better way to go about this.
In terms of looks, the Penguin is nothing special. He resembles the X-Men's leader Cyclops to the extent that he has a visor and wears tights, however, all resemblance to a superhero stops there. Far be it for me to critique the art of someone obviously more talented than I, however, I must point out that his torso looks distended and his waist off center. Also, while his bio on NHL.com says that he has wings, I see no such thing in his picture. Perhaps he's hiding them?
Being a Flyers fan, it's hard for me to say anything nice about a Pittsburgh entity. Sure, I get that. Maybe I was being too harsh. Let's discuss the next four guardians then, just to make sure.
The King is a royal warrior equipped with sword and shield that looks an awful lot like an old King Arthur cartoon. The Hurricane looks like Kathy Griffin on steroids and has a vortex of swirling air for the bottom half of his body. The Blackhawk is half robot / half jet (not in a cool Transformers way) and can control the wind even though the city he defends earned the moniker "Windy City" for the windbags that lived their and not for any meteorological anomalies. Lastly, The Sabre is... I don't know what the heck The Sabre is.
I don't know what kind of research was done in this project. I don't know if the designers and the writers worked closely with point men from respective teams and Stan Lee to make sure that these were the coolest possible superheroes that they or anyone could have come up with.
What I do know is that research or understanding of the respective teams in any of the six already released designs is horribly disappointing.