The Might of Guardian Prime is a Nigerian comic book; a Comic Republic creation. The comic is centered on a Nigerian male super hero called Guardian Prime. Guardian Prime’s regular alias is Tunde Jaiye, a 25 year old fashion designer in Eko City. His father is politician and his mother a business women. Whenever a city in Nigeria – or anywhere in the world really – is in danger Guardian Prime acts as savior and always managers to save the day. He’s portrayed as a perfect man, with super human everything, speed, senses and strength. On top of that he has other gifts which include flying, intensifying his body heat and creating fires. Guardian Prime was tasked with the role of being the world’s protector from evil by Gaiya (Mother Nature) and is one of the guardians that are born to the human race very 200 years. He has the ability to access the past guardians’ thoughts, much like how Avatar Aang could access his past lives in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Our introduction to Guardian Prime isn’t very impressive, with a basic story line, mediocre drawings that make the hero look much older than his intended age of 25. The comic can be frustrating to read with Guardian Prime announcing his every thought and action rather than the artists portraying what they can with art. Guardian Prime gives of a ‘wanna be Superman’ vibe and his similar skills to the American hero. The creators simply made him Nigerian but gave him little, to no African ties, other than being proud of his heritage.
Too much is given to Guardian Prime. He’s made all too perfect, with almost no flaws. At times they attempt to suggest that he struggles with control of his powers or temper but that’s not enough to kick him off the stool of perfection. They made him a world hero but that world only seems to be Nigeria and America. The creators seem to be apprehensive to create a fully African hero. Another thing that makes the hero unrealistic is his lack of disguise. Guardian Prime wears no mask, but unlike Clarke Kent his normal persona wears no glasses either. So realistically the public should be more than capable of realizing that Tunde Jaiye is, in fact, Guardian Prime.
But throughout the first nine volumes there’s much improvement on the art of the comics. The stories are cliché with alien invasions (which have now been overdone for heroes), but the portrayal of the story improves (though more humor would have been great). We start to see more actions and fewer words in the fighting and danger scenes. Even the inclusion of America at the end was done from a more interesting angle. So the improvement does give the comic book and creators brownie points, it shows that they can improve their work and create even better comics and characters. Beyond this is also one of the best examples of persistent African passion. Too often creators look at their limitations and use that as a crutch to hold themselves back from pursuing their dreams. In the case of Comic Republic the progression in the art and storytelling of Guardian Prime from issue #1 to #9 shows that the creators did not wait until it was perfect or the best, the simply started telling their story and allowed progress to perfect their work. Today Guardian Prime is a truly pleasant read with a rich world and characters; the artwork is amongst the best in Africa and has carried the title through to becoming one of the foremost examples of great African comics.
Many have followed after Comic Republics Guardian Prime borrowing the best aspects from it and whist simultaneously inspired to try and surpass it; our only hope is that as creators take lessons from the Might of Guardian Prime they not only see the art style or engaging story telling but they also borrow from the tenacity of a small group of unrelenting creators willing to be bad before they get good.
Written by Prudence Chikaka and Tinodiwa Makoni