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Webcomic / The Young Protectors

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"Superhero. Supervillain. It's complicated."
— Banner ad for The Young Protectors, featuring Kyle and the Annihilator

When closeted superhero-in-training Kyle, aka Red Hot, walks into his very first gay bar with a "To hell with it," little does he know how his words will come into play when he exits and runs into the dangerously sexy Annihilator...

The Young Protectors is a multi-chapter superhero webcomic by author Alex Woolfson and artists Adam DeKraker [line artist] and Veronica Gandini [colorist]. It can be found here. As of February 2020, the comic contains the following arcs:

  • Engaging the Enemy, with five chapters, two interludes, three bonus comics and an epilogue. It deals with Kyle's relationship with the Annihilator, his coming out process, his coming to terms with his powers, and how Annihilator uses Kyle to try to unleash hell on Earth.
  • Legendary, an NSFW comic made for Patreon subscribers, with two chapters, focused on the relationship between Kyle and Spooky Jones.
  • Past Sins, with one chapter, in which Spooky deals with his memories of his past lover Aanado, and faces a possibility to liberate him from hell.
  • Double Cross. While investigating hostile magic users with Spooky, Flyboy is sent in time to the past, where he must help the past version of Spooky to solve a magical mystery that seems oddly connected to the one in his own timeline. Currently on pause after the third chapter was finished.
  • Fallen. While Flyboy is sent to the past, his boyfriend Cory is sent to another dimension where nothing is what it seems. Currently ongoing on its first chapter.

A Patreon page is available for really NSFW content, as well as comic extras.

This comic contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Annihilator.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: As of Arc 4, Cory is transported to another dimension/reality inhabited by blue-skinned people with ram's horns on their heads and fluffy wings on their backs.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The way that Annihilator was first presented. One the one hand, he is a known supervillain (whose alias doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his benevolence) and didn't seem to have a problem with manipulation. On the other, his evilness was then an Informed Attribute, barely supported by the mind games he was playing. He's become less ambiguous as the action has proceeded, but surprisingly displays a conscience of sort.
    • Also, the Platinum Priestess. So far the only strikes against her is that she is on good terms with Annihilator and that Spooky Jones hasn't said anything good about her. Again, that changes radically by the end of chapter 2 with the whole "selling the Earth to the powers of hell" thing and playing Lady Macbeth when her old lover hesitates.
    • And despite the whole "bargain with hell" thing, both may be leaning back in the middle of chapter 3, as they seem to doing it to gain power to repair the walls of reality. They're willing to sacrifice billions, and they're willing to gain personal perks from the effort - but their choices seem to be limited to "actively sacrifice half the world to Hell" or "do nothing and have the whole planet swallowed by Hell". They also seem to intend to get the sacrificed half back after the deal is done ...
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Spooky to Kyle: "If you could do anything, right now, what would you do?"
    • Kyle to Duncan: Where did you get all this information about the Hell walls from? got it from her, didn't you?
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: When Annihilator is out of costume.
  • Bears Are Bad News: As of Chapter 4, page 33. Fluke throws one of Spooky's flasks in a last-ditch effort to thwart Annihilator and the Platinum Priestess. What pops out just in time to take PP's laser beam full-force? A massive, 20-foot tall bear. WITH LASER EYES.
    • To add insult to injury, it appears that PP's attack struck the bear in the ass. It is understandably displeased.
  • Big Entrance:
  • Big Red Devil: Laampros seems to be one.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Several readers have noted Laampros's shadowed crotch bears a very... intimidating, distinct outline. He IS apparently a demon, after all. Based on some Patreon artwork, this has been made canon.
  • Blackmail: Annihilator to Kyle. Averted, since he later admits he wasn't going to out Kyle as gay whether he kissed him or not.
  • Blessed with Suck:
  • Breakout Character: Spooky Jones and Flyboy first appear as supporting characters in Engaging The Enemy. Then each of them gets his own bonus comic. Then comes Spooky Jones: Past Sins, in which Kyle is a supporting character and Spooky is the protagonist, and then Double-Cross in which Flyboy and a past version of Spooky are the protagonists and Kyle barely gets a mention.
  • Bridal Carry: Here. Kyle even comments that it feels "[A] bit, uh...Lois Lane".
  • Buffy Speak: Kyle refers to the Crisis of Collided Trans-World Identities as "Calamity of Infinite Super-whatsit Thing".
  • Bury Your Gays: Averted, according to Word of God. You can read Alex's (somewhat spoilery) comments regarding the subject on this page.
  • Celibate Hero: Kyle up until recently. His fire powers are augmented by his emotions, which includes orgasm. After burning down his foster parents' home after masturbating as a kid, he swore never to experience that pleasure, even with himself, again.
  • Chainmail Bikini: The Platinum Priestess wears an armor-type one.
  • Civvie Spandex: Spooky Jones and, to a lesser extent, Flyboy.
  • Cliffhanger: This page, which just so happens to be taking place on the edge of a cliff.
    Alex: Oh, trés meta, Writer Boy. I see what you’re doing there ...
  • Compensating for Something: The Annihilator admits that his supervillain moniker sounds like he's compensating for something.
    • If Kyle's reaction to seeing Annihilator naked and aroused is any indication, though, this is pretty thoroughly averted.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Kyle, twice actually, once before he realized his powers, by his original parents for an undisclosed reason, and then after he burned down the house with his fire powers, he was abandoned by his foster parents.
  • Cool Car: Spooky Jones's red 1969 Pontiac Firebird convertible (seen here).
  • Curtains Match the Window: The Platinum Priestess has, fittingly, platinum-colored hair and eyes.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: According to the Annihilator, superheroes under the age of eighteen are off-limits to supervillains, a policy enforced by himself among others. Kyle learns this on his eighteenth birthday, and takes it as a warning that his protection has expired. He's right.
    • Later on, Spooky states that birthdays carry magical powers that can be taken advantage of using certain spells. Spooky himself was transported to Hell on his thirteenth birthday and spent a year there before he somehow managed to get out.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Kyle's backstory on the discovery of his fire powers is both tragic and humiliating.
    • Spooky spent a year in Hell. After escaping, he had no memory of his own name or who he was.
  • Dating Catwoman: Kyle enters into this with the Annihilator. It didn't work out so well.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Each arc of the webcomic so far brings to the forefront a specific character:
    • Arc 1, "Engaging the Enemy": Red Hot (Kyle) falls for a villain, unaware of the latter's true intentions; discovers his true demonic heritage on his father's side, and matures as a hero.
    • Arc 2, "Past Sins": More light is shed on Spooky's past, his tormentous time in Hell, his "light in the darkness" (a helpful demon named Anaado).
    • Arc 3, "Double Cross": Although the story begins with Spooky and Flyboy (Mitch), the latter becomes the main focus after he is catapulted to the past and interacts with past versions of his future teammates Spooky, Amanda Charleyboy (at first), then Kyle and Paul (future hero Fluke).
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Platinum Priestess and The Commander both have their moments.
  • Emotional Powers: Kyle's fire powers are linked to his emotions ... including orgasm.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even the bad guys have rules. And one of them is that no one messes with children. At least that's what Anni says.
    • But that might have been a lie, if the statement of the Platinum Priestess in Chapter 3 is ANY indication...
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humour: Of the "sick and twisted sense of humor" variety, though fairly minor. When Kyle reveals the first time he discovered he could play with fire was during a masturbation session that caused him to accidentally burn down his foster parents' house, Annihilator laughs. Quickly subverted, however, when Annihilator realizes Kyle isn't exaggerating, and in fact gravely hurt his foster sister and was abandoned by his foster parents after the incident.
  • Flat "What": The Annihilator's response to being hurled across a room into a wall hard enough to leave a small crater is just a genuinely perplexed "What?"
  • Foreshadowing: Kyle's very first line (before we know anything about him or even his name) is, "Oh, to hell with it". Then chapter two rolls around, and the statement has become literal.
  • Gay Bar: Annihilator spots Kyle in one and threatens to out him if he doesn't do what he says.
  • Gayngster: The Annihilator.
  • Graying Morality: The villains' plot is basically a Well-Intentioned Extremist goal of repairing the walls of reality. The Platinum Priestess is still selfish, but overall it's not a clean black and white situation.
  • Healing Factor: When Annihilator does take damage he can regenerate from his wounds in around ten minutes time.
  • Hidden Depths: Annihilator is hinted to have this.
  • Honey Trap: Annihilator seduced Kyle with the purpose of using him as a sacrifice to get into Laampros' realm. He mentions that if Kyle had been straight Platinum Priestess would have done the seducing instead.
  • Immortality Seeker: The Annihilator and Platinum Priestess. They opened a door into Laampros' realm in the hopes that he would grant them immortality in exchange for passage into the human world.
  • In a Single Bound: Annihilator is not quite able to make the leap to Hong Kong, but still ...
  • Incoming Ham:
    Killer: So sorry to interrupt your brunch date, but we're here to kick your ass.
  • Invisibility: When his first date with Duncan / Annihilator goes wrong, Kyle is turned invisible.
  • Invisible Streaker: As a result of the above - Kyle's invisible, but his clothes aren't. Cue him frantically shucking clothes as he escapes.
  • Instant Sedation: With magic dust thrown on Kyle's face. Only momentarily though.
  • It's All About Me: Annihilator claims this is the reason he's evil, but he doesn't seem too sure of it, and he does sort-of apologize to Kyle after using him to open a gate to Laampros' realm, saying he deserves better.
  • Jail Bait Wait: Not that Anni has to wait very long.
  • Knight Templar: Two rather violent heroes attacked the Annihilator and used brutal force on Kyle (who they thought was the Invisible Man).
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Though initially immune to Kyle's fire powers, Annihilator learns the hard way not to piss him off as Kyle's anger causes his powers to grow strong enough to severely burn his arm.
  • Love at First Sight: Kyle and Duncan's romance is very abrupt, one encounter in a shady alley and a date in Hong Kong and the Annihilator is already telling Kyle being with him makes him want to try and be a better person, and Kyle, a previously Celibate Hero, is asking Duncan to be his first the night of his eighteenth birthday. It's made clear that The Annihilator's primary interest with Kyle is Kyle's unique power, the romantic attraction comes second.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Kyle is Laampros's son.
  • May–December Romance: Annihilator (58) and Kyle (17, going on 18) seem to be heading to one of these... until Chapter 2.
  • Mundane Utility: The Platinum Priestess uses her magic to get Kyle dressed for a date.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Annihilator. So far though, he doesn't seem so bad... Though this quickly becomes a lot murkier once Chapter 2 rolls around.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Annihilator is highly durable, being immune to at least cuts (usually), explosions, and fire, as we've seen so far.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: Hunter and Killer, the vigilantes who show up to fight Annihilator in Hong Kong. They're cocky Jerkasses who don't care about collateral damage in the service of their work.
  • Occult Detective: According to Word of God, "[Spooky's] work outside of The Young Protectors does involve what are essentially 'occult investigations'." This comes to the forefront a beginning with Arc 3, "Double Cross".
  • Oh, Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us!: In an interlude chapter, the team finds out they have some very creative fans online. Tsunami is disgusted, Fluke finds it hilarious, and Spooks is offended... that he's not the one on top.
  • One-Word Title: For two of the arcs:
    • Legendary
    • Fallen
  • Painting the Medium: One is left wondering exactly how Kyle said "PLATINUM PRIESTESS" to make it appear in huge silver block letters.
    • And before that, the first time he said "THE ANNIHILATOR".
    • The prequel bonus comic ends with Spooky introducing himself: "The name is Jones. SPOOKY JONES".
      Alex: You really didn’t think only the bad guys would get special fonts for their names, did you?
  • Parental Abandonment: After his powers manifested and he accidentally burned down their home and scarred their child, Kyle's foster parents couldn't even look him in the eye anymore.
  • Playing with Fire: Kyle
  • Porn Names: Kyle, a.k.a. Red Hot, admits his superhero name is this, but in his defense he chose it when he was 12, based on his childhood nickname of 'Red' and the fact he had fire powers.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis! / Punctuated Pounding: DON'T! *Punch* BE A! *Punch* DICK! *Punch*
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Not only Annihilator can use real puppy eyes, the author ironically refers to a somewhat creepy look as this.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Platinum Priestess is over six thousand years old.
  • Secret Identity:
    • Everybody's quite liberal with them, with Kyle calling Fluke "Paul" in public and the Annihilator calling the Platinum Priestess "Sircea" in front of a hero. The Annihilator also has no problem at all revealing his name (Duncan Wells, from Brighton) to Kyle.
    • According to the Annihilator, the names of Kyle's teammates are an Open Secret to both the other heroes and villains alike.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: A very mild one; the Annihilator only demands a kiss in exchange for keeping Kyle's secret. Then we find out that he would have kept Kyle's secret anyway.
  • Scenery Censor: During his battle in the market place Kyle has somehow gotten completely naked while being invisible and fighting his enemy... all without showing his cash'n'prizes.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The Annihilator seems to have no trouble with money, seeing as he can spend over $200 a plate on his redhead dinner date. It's implied that at least some of this money came from robbing Fort Knox.
  • Sensible Heroine, Skimpy Villainess: Compare The Commander with The Platinum Priestess.
  • Shipper on Deck: It seems like the Platinum Priestess seems to ship Kyle/Annihilator. She apparently changes her mind in chapter 3 though.
    • It's also shown that The Commander apparently ships Spooks with literally everyone in the team in the Truth or Dare Chapter.
  • Shout-Out: A movie theater is showing Artifice 2, a reference to another one of Woolfson's comics.
  • Six Token Band: The Young Protectors:
    • The Commander, a Native American female
    • Spooky Jones, a Chinese male
    • Red Hot, a (closet gay) ginger Caucasian male
    • Tsunami, a Samoan male
    • Flyboy, another Caucasian male who outed himself to Kyle
    • Fluke, an African American male.
  • Stealth Pun: Kyle is gay and has fire powers, making him literally a flaming homosexual.
  • Straight Gay: Kyle, who has few of the stereotypical traits commonly associated with homosexuals (though that would make the above Stealth Pun less apropos, as "flaming" homosexuals are the Camp Gay variety.)
  • Superpower Lottery: There's a reason Annihilator is one of the most feared supervillains around:
  • Super-Reflexes: Annihilator has these, enough to throw someone several stories into the air then leap from building to building to catch them again.
  • Super-Speed: Annihilator catches a news story where Kyle and the Young Protectors are tending to an arson fire, and makes it to the scene within a few minutes. Until we find out that he actually was responsible for the fire himself.
  • Super-Strength: Annihilator has strength enough to throw someone several stories into the air.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Kyle's consent to going out on a date with Annihilator is under the pretense that Annihilator doesn't just plan to 'screw with him all night'. The Platinum Priestess is quick to jump on this, in that if that's Kyle's limitation, it sort of defeats the purpose of a date.
  • Time Travel: Arc 3, "Double Cross", throws Flyboy some years in the past, where he meets past versions of teammates Amanda Charleyboy and Spooky. His presence in the past and how he navigates knowing of future events, are a source of drama and friction between him and Spooks's past version.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kyle delivers a pretty brutal one to Annihilator in Chapter 4, pegging him as Platinum Priestess's naive, pathetic little lap dog, and Annihilator is visibly pissed off by the accusation. He does this while he and his team are utterly incapacitated and at Annihilator's mercy.
  • Visual Pun: Kyle is ginger with flame powers making him literally a "fiery redhead". He doesn't count as a true Fiery Redhead because we haven't seen him lose his temper yet.
    • Confirmed and Justified during the date in Hong Kong; Pummeling an anti-hero while yelling at him not to be a dick.
    • The 'activities' on Kyle's 18th birthday were apparently so good that it literally blew his socks off.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 2.
  • Wham Line:
    • Laampros: "My darling son."
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Complete with a Shout-Out to Disney.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: According to Spooky, Laampros would never lie about Kyle being his son. It's a matter of pride.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Kyle's flame abilities aren't a mutation, nor do they come from magic or alien interference. Turns out he's the offspring of a king of Hell.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Commander admits that she's fantasized about the guys having sex more than once.