Undiscovered Country and Protector are two comic books that are showing the world a set of possible futures that is both frightening and disheartening to consider. Comics have the power to lift hopes through the inspiring actions of iconic heroes. But they can also show readers the horrors that exist when the actions of a country or society are driven by selfish fears.
Protector is a comic book series published by Boom Studios that recently wrapped up its first six-issue arc. The story alone is a masterpiece of world building from Daniel M. Bensen and Simon Roy that uses perception and character development to challenge the readers expectations. It is matched by art from Artom Trakhanov, Hussan Otsmane-Elhaou, and Jason Wordie that is original, expressive, and filled with an energy that hums on every page.
Undiscovered Country from Image Comics feels like it is more aligned to a future that uses projections based on our current political and ecological environment. The story begins thirty years into that future. Writers Scott Snyder and Charles Soule have imagined the worst. Artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Danielle Orlandini bring the nighmare to life.
The United States of America has been walled off from the rest of the world. No one knows what is happening behind those walls until a message appears. It is an invitation for an envoy to visit and receive a cure for the deadly Sky disease killing the rest of the world.
The world of Protector is based in a post-apocalyptic power struggles played out under the subjugating gaze of alien conquerors. Competing nations like the Hudsonis and Yanquis use slaves and struggle to eke out a rugged existence along the waters and across the plains. They are subject to instructions from the ruling species. These messages are communicated through Oracles who operate like their predecessors at Delphi.
Once inside Undiscovered Country, the travelers are shown how drastically things have changed and that the mission they have undertaken is not the same as the one they were offered. But survival is paramount, and the only option they may have is diving deeper into the heartland of an America that is a twisted nightmare.
There are plenty of post-apocalyptic films about how systems survive in a broken future . But so many of those feature a hero striving to use a key to unlock a hidden paradise. Sometimes they are the warrior-escort guiding a promise that can undo the damage by restoring a lost resource.
At first, Protector appears to be a written in the vein of the hero awakened from a deep sleep to change the present. It worked for Captain America and The Avengers. But not every story is written for the lost hero to solve. In the story of Protector, inspiration and hope lead two characters to place where they can decide the fate of their people themselves. It is a not decision that requires action or violence, but diplomacy, compromise, and forgiveness.
In Undiscovered Country, the former United States are a hellish landscape. New districts reflect the embracing and cultivation of every twisted version of America, Uncle Sam, democracy, or concept associated with America. At the core is a mystery that may hold more than one answer. Can a disintegrating country be restored to its former glory or is it a like a melted snowflake that can never be restored?
A post-apocalyptic world does not have to be all doom and gloom. In fact, it is the greatest darkness or the harshest circumstances that the most powerful stories of heroism and redemption can be told. Sometimes it is the post important place for the story of a hero to be forged.
Undiscovered Country and Protector can be taken as a warning or a prophecy. But these are stories showcase how hope is still possible even when everything goes horribly wrong. Shakespeare said that the future was the undiscovered country. In these stories, even a broken future reveals heroes that are willing to continue fighting and protecting.