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Comic Book / Northguard

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Northguard the ManDes Conclusion #1
Northguard the ManDes Conclusion #2
Northguard the ManDes Conclusion #3

"My name is Phillip Wise. I'm a superhero, or so I like to think.
In reality, there's no such thing as a 'superhero.'
There are only suicidal idiots in costume playing 'let's pretend.'"
Northguard: The ManDes Conclusion #1, 1989

Northguard was a fictional superhero comic published in the mid-1980's and early 90's by the independent publishers Matrix Comics and Caliber Comics, noteworthy for being one of the few Canadian superhero comics of the late 20th century. Created by comic book writer Mark Shainblum and illustrator Gabriel Morrissette, the character first appeared in NewTriumph featuring Northguard #1 (September 1984). Four more issues were published by Matrix from 1984-86, and then the series went on hiatus until 1989, when the story arc started in issue #1 was finally concluded in the mini-series Northguard: The ManDes Conclusion published by Caliber Comics.

Published several years before Dark Knight and Watchmen, Northguard was arguably the first North American superhero series to be influenced by Alan Moore's Darker and Edgier approach to the genre, although it also owed a lot to the spy and thriller genres.

Though not as well-known as Richard Comely's earlier Canadian superhero series Captain Canuck or Marvel's contemporaneous Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight, Northguard achieved a certain degree of pop culture notoriety when Fleur-de-Lys, a supporting character, appeared on a Canadian postage stamp in 1995.

Notable characters and concepts in Northguard include:

  • Northguard (Phillip Wise), a Montreal student and comic book fan in his early 20's who becomes an Ascended Fanboy when he is chosen to wield a superweapon called the UniBand. Against the wishes of his patrons, who think he's crazy, he has a nationalistic maple leaf costume designed and uses the UniBand to become a superhero in a world largely without superheroes.
  • Fleur-de-Lys (Manon Deschamps), a Tae Kwon Do champion who befriends Phillip and eventually takes on a Quebec flag-based superhero persona on her own, initially just as a gag to counterpoint the silliness of Phillip's Northguard identity. But eventually she is armed with a fleur-de-lys shaped taser weapon, and the gag takes on a life of its own.
  • Steel Chameleon (Edward Holman), an American Vietnam veteran and freelance espionage agent, hired by PACT and given a holographic chip that allows him to change his appearance by pressing buttons on a calculator watch.
  • The PACT Corporation, an idealistic Canadian research firm which has taken on the role of combatting ManDes when the authorities refuse to believe it exists.
  • ManDes, or Manifest Destiny, an extreme right-wing terrorist conspiracy which wants to overthrow democracy in North America and replace it with a racist, totalitarian theocracy. They have targetted Canada first because it's the weaker target, and because they believe it that it was created by the devil to deprive the USA of a portion of the American continent.

This book contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Steel Chameleon.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Averted. Not only is Phillip Wise unambiguously Jewish, but he's also the adult child of Holocaust survivors. This provides a major element of the series' subtext, as Northguard identifies ManDes and their white-supremacist agenda with the Nazis who murdered his grandparents. Not entirely correctly, to be sure, since ManDes are also Christian Identity theocrats.
  • Angst: And lots of it.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Comic book fan who invents his own superhero identity. Everyone else thinks he's crazy.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Reverend Tyler, the leader of ManDes and its front, the Ultra Corporation.
  • Darker and Edgier: One of the earliest superhero series to attempt this trope, well before Dark Knight and Watchmen.
  • Peace & Love Incorporated: Averted. PACT really IS all about peace, love and putting profits second.